Where is Mobile Learning Headed?

Years ago mLearning was limited, consisting mostly of existing courses that were converted to be accessible via a mobile device. As more designers became comfortable with designing for mobile, we saw more experiences designed with mobile in mind. More and more mobile experiences are taking advantage of the unique affordances of mobile technologies instead of simply pushing existing “read and click next” courses onto a mobile device.

phonesMobile learning continues to evolve year after year. I believe 2014 is an important year for mobile learning, as a number of milestones have been reached that will change the landscape of mobile learning in the future.

An Expanded Definition of Mobile

When most people think about mobile technology, they think of mobile phones. Smart phones continue to evolve at a rapid pace, and each new iteration brings new features that expand the definition of what mobile is. But in 2014 the definition of mobile is expanding beyond the phone paradigm.

Wearable technology is going to be a very big deal in 2014 and beyond. Technologies like Google Glass, Samsung’s Smart Watch, and Nike’s Fuel Band are rapidly becoming more popular. These technologies collect performance data in new ways, provide contextual information on demand, and streamline user experiences in ways that mobile phones do not. Wearable technology is in it’s infancy, but I expect it to change the way we look at and define mobile technology quickly.

The Flattening of Design

As organizations started to explore mobile learning, the question that they often started with was “How do we do mobile learning?” It’s the same basic question learning professionals have asked themselves any time a new technology is introduced. Designing for any one technology is becoming an outdated strategy in a world where individuals consume content on multiple types of devices each day.

We no longer can afford multiple design learning strategies that exist separate from one another. Organizations are starting to see the value of a single enterprise learning strategy that includes all technology options. It’s no longer a question of “How do we DO mobile learning?”; it’s a question of “How do we INCORPORATE MOBILE into our overall strategy?”

The flattening of mLearning, eLearning, face-to-face, and all other delivery channels into a single learning strategy is going to change the way we look at the mobile piece going forward.

The Proven Path of Mobile

Any time a new technology is introduced, there are two primary groups of users. There are early adopters that jump on the technology right away, exploring the unknown and discovering possibilities. Then there are the late adopters, who want to see use cases and examples before jumping in themselves.

Only a few short years ago mLearning was mostly theory, with only a few organizations actually producing mLearning solutions. Over the years, a slowly increasing number of organizations started developing mobile learning solutions.

At last year’s mLearnCon Conference and Expo, we held the first mLearning DemoFest – an event in which members of The eLearning Guild community brought their mLearning projects together for an evening of sharing and reflection. It reflected the increased number of organizations that are actually working in the mLearning space.

The are enough professionals working on mobile learning to develop a shared knowledge of what is required. Mobile is no longer an unknown; the organizations have taken the journey have worn a proven path that other organizations can follow. Organizations no longer need to wait for mobile; mLearning has matured to the point that there is a proven path for organizations to replicate in order to start incorporating mobile into their own strategy.

Join the Conversation

These are just three of the possibilities for the future of mobile; there are many others. Whether you are an early adopter or someone just considering exploring mLearning, I invite you to join us at the 2014 mLearnCon Conference and Expo, taking place this June in San Diego, California. It’s the only place where you can stay on top of the expanding definition of mobile technologies AND find a proven path to mobile.

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