Please join Reni Gorman and I at mLearnCon 2011 in San Jose, CA from June 20-23. Reni and I will be speaking on June 21; our topic is “Mobile Learning is SO 10 Minutes Ago… Mobile Performance is NOW!” Here’s a summary of our session; we hope to see you there!
Imagine going out and buying a shiny new sports car. Now imagine hitching up a horse to it, and having the horse drag your car to work every day.
Sound crazy? Sure it does. So why are people still using mobile devices to deliver e-learning courses?
Years ago, Nicholas Negroponte insisted that in the not-too-distant future, we would all be wearing our computers. He was envisioning complex eyepieces and finger sensors with wires running up your sleeves. He had the right idea but the wrong form factor; he didn’t foresee that we’d be carrying our computers in our pockets and calling them “phones.”
Mobile learning is on everybody’s to-do list, and why not? Who wouldn’t want learning that could follow an employee no matter where she went? But like so many emerging technologies, we need to look past the gloss of the possible to the reality of the useful. Today’s smart phones have nearly as many capabilities as our desktop computers, but that doesn’t mean we use them the same way. And when we try to deliver learning to a mobile device the same way we deliver it to a desktop computer, we miss the point of having a mobile device to begin with.
When it became clear mobile learning was a reality, the first thing many organizations did was look at “re-chunking” their current content. If something made sense as a 30-minute e-learning program, they reasoned, it could be broken down cleanly into, say, 5 bite-sized e-learning programs for a mobile device. There’s a bit of tortured logic going on there; if something is brief and bite-sized, people will be happy to use it on their phones. And while there’s some truth to that, it misses the point. Mobile applications aren’t just about brevity, they’re about applicability. People “learn” from their mobile devices all the time, they just don’t call it training. Whether they’re pulling sports scores, GPS-ing the next leg of their trip, or sending some quick texts, people use their mobile devices to gain knowledge. So as learning professionals, why would we think they should get little e-learning courses? Why not leverage the methods they’re already using?
The re-chunking people weren’t really wrong, they just sort of missed the point. Rather than creating mini-courses for mobile devices, we need to design learning for each venue in a method that fits it best. People tend to use mobile devices:
- In short intense bursts
- When they need information right away
- In down-time, such as between appointments
- To retrieve information that may not be at their fingertips, or
- To get information that may be so current or time-sensitive, there’s no other way to get it other than right now
So when we look at how our audience performs, we need to ask not what can we teach people on a mobile device, but rather how can we use mobile devices to provide information to help them perform better.
This session will debunk the myth of “mobile learning” and explore how and why organizations are getting it so wrong. We’ll then focus on how to effectively use mobile technologies to drive real performance. The session will cover:
- How mobile devices have changed our culture—and why we need a new learning culture
- How mobile content can drive performance by contextualizing learning and providing learners with the information they need right now
- How mobile devices essentially become knowledge management tools, allowing every expert to share their knowledge, and every individual to have immediate access to expertise
- The difference between mobile learning and mobile performance—and why we need to change the way we think about them.
- The reality of how people use their mobile devices—and how that pattern of use must drive the way we design performance tools
- Why our old learning paradigms have caused us to create mobile learning that simply doesn’t work—and why we need a new paradigm to succeed.
- New models for designing mobile performance—models that you can begin using today.