mLearning : It’s Not About Delivering Content to Mobile Phones
mLearning, it’s one of those terms you see bandied about quite a lot nowadays but have you ever wondered what it could mean? Okay, so the ‘m’ in mLearning stands for ‘mobile’, just like the ‘e’ in eLearning stands for …. whatever.
So it’s easy to establish that mLearning is about using mobile devices, not just mobile phones but tablets and other handheld devices, for learning. So the first problem facing an education company is that they have all these electronic resources for learning available on the web, on old-fashioned DVD or CD or, even, on paper, all of which need to be re-purposed and packaged for delivery to mobile devices.
It seems a number of companies think that this is the first hurdle. I have come across a slew of seminars, conferences, webinars etc. which aim or claim to tackle the issues of delivering content to mobile devices. To my mind the problem is not how to deliver existing content to mobile devices because once you have overcome that problem, you are offering nothing new!
The problem with the approach is that it overlooks the features of mobile devices, features which the learner can use to aid their learning. The approach sees the learner as a passive end user to whom ‘stuff’ is delivered via their mobile device. I doing this, companies overlook the fact that most mobile devices can take pictures, record sound, capture text, create video and, of course, make phone calls … many can even locate themselves geographically. Not only can they do these things but they can also share and communicate them with other devices.
It is the existence of these features in the hands of the learner which is the real challenge of mLearning. They create new possibilities for learning and new opportunities for the learners, not just in a narrow geographic location, such as a school or a neighbourhood but nationally and even internationally.
If you think about it, the original mobile learning device was probably the book but with that you could only read and, possibly, make notes in the margin. Modern mobile devices are so much more versatile and offer the learner so much more. So why are we at danger of losing or overlooking this?