In the June issue of ASTD’s T+D magazine, there’s an article by John Coné titled “Look Before You Leap Into Mobile Learning.” He asserts organizations shouldn’t jump into m-learning simply because it’s the next shiny thing or because it seems like everybody else and her mother are doing it. Rather, think about whether mobile learning makes sense for the organization and for the particular context.
Pretty solid advice.
The Four Major Rationales for Mobile Learning
Coné lists four arguments for m-learning that he typically hears.
- The disintermediation argument says learners are increasingly getting education via mobile devices, and you have to go mobile to avoid being irrelevant or obsolete.
- The distribution argument considers mobile as only a delivery mechanism—one more way to get content out, not all that different from other delivery mechanisms (classrooms, conferences, other types of e-learning, etc.).
- The financial argument claims mobile is cheaper than the way you do learning now. I think this argument is more likely to apply to corporate staff training scenarios, where, it’s true, providing mobile devices to learners is cheaper than providing desktops or laptops; I don’t think this argument applies as well in the association sphere, where members and other learners typically provide their own technology for accessing learning.
- The effectiveness play says mobile learning can actually make your education products better than they are now or make new products that are good because they make use of the unique benefits of mobile technology—for example, taking advantage of m-learning’s ability to support in situ learning really well because learners can have and use their mobile devices when and where they need to learn.
With a concrete context in mind, think about why you’re considering m-learning, and your reason is likely to fall into one of these four broad categories.
The Experiment Imperative
After you’ve thought through what you hope to achieve with a learning event or product, and if you’ve determined mobile seems to be a good fit, then run a test, an experiment.
But keep in mind that experiments should be done with a hypothesis in mind—e.g., delivering this content as m-learning will be more effective, or delivering this as m-learning will prevent us from losing market share. Have your hypothesis in mind from the beginning, and identify how you will measure the validity of that hypothesis during your experiment.
Interested in More on Mobile Learning?
If m-learning is something your organization is considering or even dabbling in already, then you join us next Thursday, July 25, at 1 pm Eastern, for our free Webinar “How Mobile Technology Impacts Your Organization’s Learning and Marketing of Learning,” sponsored by Meridian Knowledge Solutions.