This week, I’m going to talk a bit about M-Learning. Why? Because it’s pretty popular – heck – I wouldn’t be surprised if my dog had a smartphone!
M-Learning – Say Whaaaat?
M-Learning (or Mobile Learning) refers to learning through means deployed by mobile devices. Really – it’s a pretty brilliant thing! In a world that is constantly on-the-go, what could be more convenient than being able to learn on the go? Mobile learning allows for this flexibility. With all of the devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets, MP3 players, digital books, etc.) learning has expanded its reach, and it’s up to us as Instructional Designers to work to develop solutions that are deployable through these devices. It’s a very exciting time!
One of my favourite aspects of M-Learning is the portability. I love that you can design training solutions or learning aids that professionals can take into the field and learn from on an need-to-know basis (similar to just-in-time training). Working within the Defence sector, I worked on many programs designed for aircraft maintenance technicians to be able to carry to the maintenance environment to consult during a procedure. Often these involved 3D demonstrations of part removal/installation. Alternatively, medics can use portable devices to access information as a sort of encyclopaedia, therefore M-Learning holds great capabilities – how many times can you say that something is capable of saving a life?!
You can also look at benefits of M-Learning from an efficiency standpoint. While mobile devices may be costly, it is a lot more cost efficient than having a school upgrade technology or purchase curriculum-based reading materials every other year. Our kids are growing up in a world where their backs no longer need to ache from carrying around all of the heavy books (I distinctly remember kicking myself in the butt for taking Biology, Physics, and Chemistry on the same day one semester…)!
I’m sold – are there really any limitations to M-Learning?
As with any technology-based approach to learning, there are limitations that range from the technology side of things (e.g. battery life) to the academic side of things (e.g. ensuring appropriate assessment and preparation for standardized testing) to the accessibility side of things (e.g. not everyone can afford or can access mobile devices). However, solutions are forthcoming! I read an article last week about a start-up organization who are launching public charging stations (free of charge!) – this would be fantastic in schools! There are many programs that provide mobile devices to students enrolled at academic institutions, and there are plenty of amazing instructional designers out there who are working hard to ensure students are being properly assessed.
In a digital age, it’s important to embrace changes in technology; now I’m not saying right away, but with proper research, I’m fairly certain you’ll understand that M-Learning is going to be a huge part of our future!