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Archive for the ‘Mobile Learning’ Category

by Rich Mesch

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.

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Simple Steps to Help you Think Like a Genius by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”   –   John Muir (1838 –1914) – Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States.

Not too long ago, I watched the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the famous detective and Jude Law as his faithful side-kick, Dr. John Watson. Before I saw the movie, I watched the trailers and commercials that preceded its release. They portrayed an action-packed film loaded with fights and explosions. I was quite relieved – when I finally saw the film – that the one thing I found most interesting about the Holmes mythos, the power of deduction, was firmly in place with this re-telling. Sherlock’s ability to implement his keen senses, harness his formidable knowledge and compose a logical conclusion from seemingly unrelated data has always fascinated me. Holmes is a master of Connessione (connections); one of the “Seven Da Vincian Principles”.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation marks the beginning of the familiar genre of crime solving via clue collection. Today, the theme is played out on a high-tech frontier on popular shows such as “CSI.”. While the time, tools and techniques have changed, the basic premise of discovering clues and making connections remains intact. The essence lies in opening yourself up to the relations of all things in our world. When we open our mind to the possibilities, the connections present themselves.

Da Vinci was very aware of the interconnections between everything in his world. How shape, form and structure were affiliated on a micro and macro level. Da Vinci’s principle of Connessione is really “system thinking;” appreciating and recognizing the alliance of all things and phenomena.

By tapping into the possibilities of connections, I’ve been able to improve my day-to-day operations in the office. (more…)

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by Rich Mesch

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. (more…)

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by Reni Gorman

We all intuitively think in a linear fashion because the brain can only really focus on one thing at a time, then another, and another. Therefore, even when we think we are jumping around in our thoughts, we are still thinking one thing after another. Perhaps as a result of this, many of us also write in a linear fashion. Therefore, it is not surprising that many instructional designers create course content linearly; it is difficult to think of a course or a story any other way.. However, when people use newer technologies, they tend to be very non-linear, be it surfing the web, using mobile devices or (especially) performance support systems. You never know where learners are coming from when they land on your web page—or your module. You also don’t know how much they already know. So, how do you to anticipate all of this when creating content, and, ideally, create content that addresses multiple learner types who arrive there from any place without any pre-existing knowledge?

When the web first went commercial (.com), I teamed up online magazine web producers with instructional designers and together they were able to create very interactive, instructionally sound, non-linear content. However, that was in the 90s, the stone age of interactive technology. In today’s world, we need to run as lean as we can. So let me share some of the techniques that worked for me when teaching how to design non-linear content; which, remember, is totally counterintuitive to what many instructional designers have been doing for years.

Ask your instructional designers to create a storyboard with modules that are truly context independent (in other words, that can be accessed from any path with any existing knowledge and will still make sense). Tell them to try to create the smallest possible modules; think online magazine publishing: one article is usually one page. Once they come back with their storyboards, pull out a module from the middle and see if it makes sense out of context. Does it indicate where you can go to “backtrack” and catch up?  What would happen if a learner would go into just this piece of content without the benefit of the previous content? Then, think about modifying the content in a way that makes it easy for anyone with links to go backwards in the content for explanation (if needed), and links to get more deep/advanced. This is commonly referred to as a layered design—once again, very non-linear. You will not know who the learner is when you design; she may be the target audience or a manager of the target audience or an assistant. No matter who the learner is, the content should make sense, and guide the learner to other content where they can catch up or explore further.

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by Dave Darrow

No, it’s not an attempt to throw as many buzzwords into a title as possible, mobile augmented reality training is a new concept that a confluence of technologies has made possible. The idea of augmented reality applications is not new. The basic concept is that some type of display technology allows a computer-generated image to overlay a current view of the world. Here are some examples of how this can be implemented:

  1. A head-mounted display that is either semi-transparent or covers only 1 eye shows computer-generated images or text over a persons vision.
  2. A head-mounted display that completely obstructs a viewers vision displays a composite of computer-generated information with a live video feed of the viewers surroundings from a head-mounted camera.
  3. A combination of a camera and display in one unit (like a smartphone) that combines computer-generated information with the live feed coming from the units camera.

Additionally, these systems may have GPS, compass, and/or accelerometer technologies inside in order to track orientation and position. The exciting part is that more and more consumers are buying compatible systems of the third type without even realizing it: smartphones.

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by Jean Marie Tenlen

Fifty-five percent of the time iPhone users are on their phones, they are not talking to someone. So, what are they doing? One of those activities is shopping – but as you’ll see, shopping with these apps (which are also available for some other phones) is not just shopping. It also means that you can compare prices, local/on-line availability, nutrition, and how the manufacturer rates for eco-friendliness. In addition to all this info, you’ll be able to share your findings through email that you link to within the app, thereby impressing and wowing your friends and neighbors (or at least your teenage sons).

Last weekend, my husband and I, in our never-ending quest to be more handy, decided to buy a powerwasher. While in line at Home Depot, I used the Redlaser app on my iPhone to scan the powerwasher’s UPC code. The results showed me that the same product was available online – for $30 less. HomeDepot matched the online price, and I saved the thirty bucks.

Apps like Redlaser and Shopsavvy use a scanning technology that will give you information about pricing – both online and locally. They pull from the location services on your phone to list the stores near you that have that item in stock. If you want to get it online, just click – you’re redirected to the website. Or if you prefer a local retailer’s price, you can link to the store’s phone number, get directions, email the results to someone else (or yourself), or go to the store’s website. Redlaser will also give you allergen and nutrition information on food products – and you can set price alerts on Shopsavvy.

And, if that isn’t cool enough –– if the product you’re scanning is a book, you can also see if the book is available at one of your local libraries. (Full disclosure: I haven’t been able to get mine to show me this. Since my library fines usually end up higher than the actual cost of purchasing the book , I haven’t really investigated it.)

Another app is made by GoodGuide. It also uses a scanning technology. But instead of pricing and availability, GoodGuide provides you with a rating of the product and the company who produces it. GoodGuide gives you an overall health hazard, environmental impact, and social impact assessment. You can search their recommended product list, scan a product, key in a upc number, or search by name or ingredient. GoodGuide seems to have a very sound process for arriving at these ratings. GoodGuide will even give you alternatives, if your product’s ratings are low (Similar to my mother when I was dating, but that is another blog post).

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by Rich Mesch

I remember years ago, sitting in a presentation by Nicholas Negroponte, where he 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?

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