Every few years it seems that there’s some hot new trend in the world of training. Right now it appears that mobile learning is all the rage. The world of mobile gadgets is converging with an always available wifi network. This gives us instant access to all sorts of information which fits in well with on-demand training.
Since this part of the industry is so new to many of you, I thought it might be best to hook up with an expert in the industry to learn more. So I called one of my mentors and a real pioneer in the elearning industry, Dr. Werner Oppelbaumer, to pick his brain. I asked for his thoughts on mobile learning and where he thinks we should be focusing our attention.
It seems that every year or two the training industry hypes some sort of technology or trend. Currently, it appears that mobile learning (or m-learning) is the hot thing. However, we tend to over-promise and under-deliver. Is this just a fad or is there more to it than that?
M-learning is not a fad. We have been doing some very detailed studies and have discovered that many people are mobile. In fact, every three seconds there is someone on this planet that is moving from one place to the next.
We’re not quite sure how long this trend will last, but it definitely presents some opportunities and challenges for the industry. At the same time, there is always an element of hype that surrounds these newly discovered trends.
So, considering that mobile learning is not a fad, how do we separate the hype from what’s of real value?
Good question. We find that most people are distracted by the sexy technology and lose sight of how ineffective it actually is. Take something like the iPhone for example. Considering that the world’s population is approaching 7 billion people, only selling 17 million units can hardly be called a success.
In fact, their sales dropped 24% in the last quarter. The way I see it, the iPhone is just a fad. My guess is that this time next year we’ll be talking about some other gadget and the iPhone will probably go the way of the CB radio.
We feel the key is to get the most out of all of these technologies without focusing on any one specific one. For example, all of the mobile devices have things in common, one of which is a small screen. This presents a problem when trying to push out effective m-learning.
With the small screens you are limited to just a few bullet points. To remedy this, we’ve developed the m-Goggle which will allow you to magnify the screen’s resolution. It’s something we’ve been working on since the 1920’s. We’ve had the solution for years, but had to be patient and let the rest of the industry catch up to us.
These goggles give you the best of both worlds. You can leverage the mobile devices that everyone has and still have room for the bullet points that are so critical for effective elearning. Our studies have also indicated an additional side benefit. We found that when men wear these goggles while traveling it is much easier for them to communicate to woman that they are single.
What advice would you give someone interested in learning more about this industry and m-learning?
I always advocate caution. Don’t get caught up in the fads. Instead focus on what’s important. The best way to sort the important stuff from that which is trivial is to look for a letter before the word “learning.”
My motto is, “With a letter, learning’s better!”
For example, “e-learning” means it is important. The same with “m-learning.” Remember, if it has no letter, then it’s most likely a waste of time and not worth your energy.
If you can’t find a letter, then the next step is to look for a number. Something like m-learning 2.0 is really important. It has a letter and a number. Be cautious of trends without numbers. That means they’re not evolving.
As far as the future of mobile learning, I put together a simple presentation of some of our forward thinking mobile learning technologies. You are free to share them with the blog readers. I am excited about where the industry is going and the opportunities it will present to all of us.
I want to thank Dr. Oppelbaumer for his insight and sharing his time. He agreed to monitor this blog post and answer any questions. Feel free to share comments and questions for Dr. Oppelbaumer in the comments section. Have a wonderful day!
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