Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mobile Learning in a Consumer Driven Market

By Danielle Slatinsky

Stacey Harris, VP of Research for Brandon Hall Group, and Mark Hellinger, President and CEO of Xyleme, led a webinar called “Let's Get Mobile: Changing Your Concept of Mobile Content Design and Delivery” on February 21, 2012. Brandon Hall Group, a research based analyst and advisory firm, hosted the webinar.

Mark and Stacey started out the presentation by explaining that many people struggle with getting Mobile Learning, or m-Learning, set up. Creating a Mobile Learning environment is a big process that consists of more than simply transferring e-Learning content over to mobile devices.

Stacey commented on how m-Learning has been a major topic of discussion since 2002, and the use of m-Learning is pretty low considering that it has been talked about at conferences for about 10 years. She stated that m-Learning is not only an issue of technology, but it correlates with the changes taking place in the economy. There has been a shift in how people view learning and what their expectations are.

According to Stacey, a shift is taking place as we move from the Information Age to a Social or Communication Age. Mark and Stacey continued the presentation by showing how people need to shift learning formats in this Social or Communication Age.

Transitioning to m-Learning

Many changes need to be made in the way learning programs are developed. Mark stated that a very fundamental shift needs to take place in organizations as they make extreme changes. Content development needs to move away from large annual courses to agile quarterly courses.

Some difficulties arise when organizations switch over to m-Learning. Mark explained how it can be hard to implement m-Learning because the tools that were used for e-Learning are not easy to transfer to mobile and multiple delivery options. Mark said that this change is inevitable though because learners need to access the content they need in a format they want.

Learner requirements need different design considerations. Stacey explained how consumers are currently looking for easy to use and intuitive learning environments. Mark supported this by saying how the focus has shifted from what is easy for the content creator to what is easy for consumers. Currently, social learning on mobile devices is what is easy for consumers.

Social Learning on Mobile Devices

Learning has morphed from classroom to e-Learning and now to m-Learning. Mark commented on how learning is now focused around m-Learning and social networking. People need to be connected to a community that can help them learn, and mobile and social learning are converging together to accomplish this.

Stacey explained how learning is now relationship centered, as opposed to teaching or learner centered, and that this style of learning focuses on relationships, people, work, and content. Social learning is larger than individual learning: it is made effective by the act of learning in a group and forming relationships.

Social learning needs to connect with social living, or social environment. People desire to interact in social learning in the same way they interact in social living, which can consist of Facebook, Twitter, etc. Stacey showed how social living mostly takes place in a mobile environment.

Stacey and Mark continued the presentation by discussing tablets and smartphones. Stacey commented on how there is a huge interest in tablets, especially since the Kindle Fire came out. Mark explained how tablets are excellent learning devices, and smartphones are great performance support devices. M-Learning offers the ability to serve different audiences for a variety of purposes. Mark reiterated the importance of building content that can reach different audiences because simply building content is not enough.

Stacey concluded the presentation by explaining how imperative it is to meet consumer driven expectations. M-Learning needs to be optimal not only in content but also in screen resolutions, touch screen, audio, etc. An understanding of tools and applications is very important in addition to content strategy. One of the most important aspects to remember when designing m-Learning is that in this new market people want to be a part of the dialogue and a community of learners.

Have you started to switch from e-Learning to m-Learning in your organization?

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