On wednesday we had a webinar with Clark Quinn, a specialist in the field of mobile learning, He has written a blogpost upfront to get us all thinking about the power of mobile learning, which you can still read here. We asked participants how do you use your mobile phone? The answered ranged from twittering, sharing on facebook, checking the yammer community for my courses, mailing, playing games, taking pictures, looking for information, sending sms, talking on whatapp, finding my car on the parking, taking pictures of flipsheets after brainstorms.. and also calling :).
What do we understand by the term mobile learning?
Mobile can “Augment our brains wherever we are“. Clark’s main concern is about effective learning and the difference between formal and informal learning. Courses are good for novices, but for practitioners there is more value in informal methods (see the slide)
. We should increase the reach of informal methods to support practitioners and this is where mobile fits in. As one participant remarks: “Learning by phone would be great when i’m bored or waiting”. Mobile learning is then about how to use your mobile devices to make yourself smarter when you’re out and about. Our brains are good at pattern detection, mobile devices are good for remembering, yet not for sense-making. Via mobile we can augment our brains wherever we go. People underestimate the power of text messages. It is about performance – how can mobile devices make people more effective.
What mobile devices do we consider? ipod? Or phone?
I don’t separate smart phones from other devices like PDA, but I’m talking about pocketable devices. Devices that fit a purse. My tablet goes many places, but not as many places as my smart phone.
So is there no role for mobile in formal learning?
There is also a role for mobile in formal learning – to augment it. It is hard to have a fully mobile course, but mobile can augment the course. It has been proven that when we gain knowledge over time sticks beter then gaining all at once. Use mobile to revisit and contextualize. You can use reapplication to solve problems. You can share a picture of something you are working on and ask for input. It is like an augmented reality game. For instance, we worked on a course on negotiation- wanted to augment it and build a little quiz. The course had 10 scenarios – stories with situations where you had to make a decision, so we had 10 reminders on negotiation. It could also be used BEFORE a training to get the right mindset.
For what type of processes can we use it?
Mobile is a generic platform. It may be difficult to make complex graphics on mobiles, but other than that it can do almost anything. We can distinguish the four C’s for the power of mobile.
Content – share content
Compute – do computations based on where we are
Communicate – finding the right persons
Capture – capture information and store for later use.
What about the small screen size?
Attention and retention may be seriously affected by small screen size. Mobile is particularly suited to meet needs in the moment, it can give you small tasks over time. You can not just transfer a course, you have to mobilize and sequence your course. Be concerned about attention and for retention
And what to do if people don’t want to use their mobile phones?
Some feel their phone is for private life, this is a bigger problem in Europe. You should make it attractive for people. if you want to be more successful you have to use mobile learning. The company may provide a device, then people have less arguments for using their own phones.
What does it require from people to use mobile device for performance support?
It requires a willingness to start thinking about mobile as personal mentors. Understand that you can customize for your own development. That’s a change.
When an organisation want to start with mobile learning where should they start?
You should get a mobile initiative going, find something that you can do. Your content development from now on should be mobile accessible. Videos etc should be mobile accessible. Get a portal where people can get it. After that start developing a mobile strategy. Mobile is a platform, not a simple tool. How do you want to take advantage of the fact that people are using their mobiles for anything anywhere? If you have an LMS: is it mobile enabled? Google is already designing for mobile first and desktops as an afterthought.
How to seduce an organisation to start with mobile?
You have to be creative. One CEO got an ipad and suddently thought everybody needs to have one. When you ask the question of how people use smartphones they get inspiration to use it too, they can copy from one another. Help them make the transition. The first answer may be that they make call, but in second thought they may realize the rich ways they use their mobile phones. Show them how mobile is transforming society. Shops realized patterns of shopping had changed. One woman was going in alone to fit cloths and taking longer. The woman was snapping pictures and sending it to friends. That’s a huge change in behaviour.
Should we as educational institute facilitate the phones or iphones in courses or can we expect our participants to have that with them when following our course? can we expect that from our participants?
That depends. You have to do research what kind of devices do they have. What is their appetite? If they find value they will do it!
What are the trends on mobile learning for the next 5 years?
One trend is geometric growth, another one is augmented and alternate realities.
And ending on a very practical note: are there any tools that we should try?
Start exploring Yelp (US – based), a Facebook app. Look for Apps for productivity and play with them, search for flashcard apps search in the app store. Look at arisgames.org. You can find a lot of resources here at designingmlearning and at learnlets. Or follow Clark’s blog at Quinnovation. And have a look at the float learning primer and the ADL mobile’s guide. Finally there is Jenni Parker’s mobile learning toolkit full of ideas on how to augment a formal training experience with mobile exercises.