Mobile in San Jose
Stuart Jones reports on his visit to mLearnCon 2012 in Silicon Valley
The main conference took place over three days and we were able to attend a number of seminars and key note speeches. In this post we will look at some of the highlights and key messages we took home.
The overall theme was very much that mobile is here and it is not going away. Mobile penetration has now reach saturation levels in Western countries with a number of people owning multiple mobile devices and the rest of the world continues to rise exponentially.
The first important thing to understand about mobile learning is there are two fairly different common form factors: smart phones and tablet PCs. The former is an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy style phone which fits into your pocket but typically has a fairly small screen, and the latter relates to the touch-screen slabs like the iPad and Galaxy Tab. The key difference in screen size can mean quite different navigation and interactions from each other and to their big screen PC cousin.
The always in your pocket nature of a mobile phone also lends itself very well to just in time performance support or knowledge. The ability to pull out your phone to settle a pub debate via Wikipedia or IMDB is a fun example of this but this can be leveraged in professional environments as well.
Mobile learning has long been touted as the next big thing in the eLearning world. Vendors have been showcasing tools for quite long time but it is now clear that a number of organisations have been successfully deploying mobile learning and demand is growing.
There are some interesting reasons for why mobile learning is starting to be quite successful.
Another key lesson is the completion rates of mLearning has been higher than typical traditional eLearning. This has also been attributed to the fact the learning is available anytime, anywhere which is particularly important for busy managers and executives.
There is a growing momentum in the software industry that we should start designing for mobile first and then adapting for PCs rather than the other way round. This sentiment was echoed at the conference by number of speakers who recommended techniques such as responsive design to make content adapt for different devices. Ensure content is kept small and bite size and take any limitations of mobile devices into consideration when designing learning.