Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might have heard by now that mobile learning is no longer the next big thing – it IS the big thing. In the past, smart phones and tablets were something only the “trend setters” had, but now that they are more affordable and accessible than ever (with Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 5 earlier this month, the iPhone 4S price has dropped to $99) it’s no wonder mLearning has taken off. Here is a quick breakdown of the mobile learning trends you need to be watching. All of these trends saw significant uptake in 2012… and look to continue.
1. mLearning in the classroom…and in the workplace.
Yes, teachers are now encouraging students to bring their smart phones and tablets to class and some schools are even providing them. There are thousands of apps available for the classroom that teach math, language, and even handwriting, and text message polls that encourage class participation. The best part? Research shows that it’s actually working. A study funded by the Department of Education showed vocabulary improvement by up to 31% in Title I elementary school students after just two weeks of using a particular educational gaming app. With such fantastic results in the K – 12 sphere, it’s no wonder mobile learning is seeing such rapid uptake in the workplace, too.
2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Many companies and schools are adopting this policy as it is more cost effective and encourages people to keep working even after they go home for the day…or at least, that’s what the buzz is about. Reality is not always matching up so far. IBM was one of the first companies to implement this policy, and so far the results have been, well, nightmare-ish. Ideally BYOD would save companies money, but according to IBM CIO Jeanette Horan, it hasn’t. Instead it’s been a headache for IT and caused all sorts of security risks. We’re grateful IBM volunteered itself to be the BYOD guinea pig because once these issues get sorted out it’s bound to be a beautiful thing.
3. “Snack learning”
Just like it sounds, snack learning is “bite-sized” tidbits of information you can grab on the go. Meant to be consumed in a couple of minutes, snack learning is convenient when you have a five-minute break between meetings or need a quick tutorial on how to run a software program. It’s great for brushing up on an old topic or learning the basics of a new one and caters to all types learners, from those of us with short attention spans to the knowledge-hungry learners. Learning “snacks” are perfect for additional reinforcement, quick tutorials, and the immediate assistance that the workplace demands.
4. Tin Can API
Tin Can API is SCORM’s smart and attractive younger sibling. By using the “Noun, verb, object” statements it’s able to track the important stuff, like what is actually being learned or done. Rather than the old system of recording pass/fail data, Tin Can provides trainers with useful information that can help personalize learning. Unlike SCORM, Tin Can API is also easy to implement and major players like Articulate, Lectora, and Blackboard have already adopted Tin Can. We are big believers in Tin Can at BLP, so much so that we have developed the first Tin Can API compliant learning game engine – The Knowledge Guru. It’s launching at DevLearn 2012. Tin Can API is currently at version .95, but will be at 1.0 soon.
5. Location-based integration and workplace training
You may have already seen location-based integration in museums, colleges or other places where tours are common, but we know it can go further. Whether it provides auditory, visual or textual information or directions, we predict this will become a great resource for employers as they train new employees and welcome customers into their companies. With smart phone use on the rise, businesses would be absurd not to use this to their advantage. Getting creative with training, like recording podcasts for sales reps who spend most of their days on the road, is an efficient use of time and can boost productivity.
6. Cloud computing
It’s inexpensive (or free), easy to use and provides a central location for large amounts of information that need to be shared – what’s not to love? At BLP we use Dropbox to share files, but I also use it at home to share family photos with family and friends. Most companies offer free storage up to a certain amount, then charge incrementally. The convenience of cloud computing will leave users on cloud nine as it wipes out the hassle of attaching files via e-mail or uploading them to a thumb drive and creates a simple way to collect and distribute information. It’s already changing the way we learn and work… and is only going to grow.
Mobile learning is exciting, the trends are important, but effective learning experiences still come down to rock-solid instructional design. Use these technologies, enjoy them, but always make sure decisions are driven by the ways people learn — and what motivates them.