I’ve been following the so-called Mobile Learning revolution for some time now. The reality is, Mobile Learning was something that a lot of people talked about, few people did, and even fewer did well. There are a number of reasons for that, including the fact that most folks were repurposing e-learning courses to tiny smartphone screens without acknowledging that mobile was a new paradigm that required new rules.
But the reality is, not many companies even go that far. You know why? Because their mobile learning initiative ended at their IT department. Few organization issued smartphones to their employees. There were a laundry list of issues, from cost to security to platform choices. Never before in history has American business been so concerned that a bit of technology might be left behind in a bar.
Some organizations had a “bring your own device” policy, but due to a lack of interoperability, confusion over LMs issues, and the dramatic chasm in capabilities between the newest and oldest smartphone platforms, any sort of comprehensive mobile learning strategy usually withered on the vine.
I’m writing this during the 2012 Summer Olympics, so I’ll use an Olympic metaphor. While a lot of people were focused on whether Michael Phelps would break the record for most medals won, Ryan Lochte quietly came in and ate Phelps’ lunch, then drank his Thermos of milk for good measure. (edit: Okay, Phelps proved me wrong on that one. So sue me.) Similarly, while a lot of us focused on the smartphone wars, the iPad came in made that conversation dramatically less relevant. The iPad is now making Mobile Learning a reality.