9 Questions for which #mLearnCon has the Answers

This week we welcome Gary Woodill, Ed.D. and Senior Analyst for Float Mobile Learning as a Guest Writer to TWIST to share his thoughts on the upcoming mLearn Conference and Expo

Conferences are a conwoodill_150x200centration of expertise, and therefore a great place to get answers. But of course, the answers you get from attending a conference will depend very much on the questions that you ask as you attend the conference.

mLearnCon is the premier conference in the world on mobile learning in corporate settings, with a fantastic concentration of experts, experienced users, and solid vendors offering their services. In fact, there is so much available that one of the problems is knowing what to choose from among the myriad options of keynotes, workshops, sessions, and exhibitors. So, in an effort to help you sort out what to pay attention to at mLearnCon, here are 9 questions that can be answered by attending the conference.

I am new to mobile learning – where do I start?

If this is your first time at mLearnCon, and you are new to the field of mobile learning, there are a number of optional workshops and sessions provided just for you. My advice – attend all the keynotes, go to the sessions in the Getting Started track, and check out the Mobile Foundations listing of sessions. You can also speak to any of the many experienced vendors in the exhibition area; some have been in the mobile learning business for over a dozen years.

How can mobile learning impact the business side of my organization?

We all know that our mobile learning strategy should follow from the business objectives of the organization we work for. Most of the sessions on this topic can be found in the Management track of the conference. As well, business objectives of mobile learning should be part of any strategy document that you develop for your company.

How do I create a mobile learning strategy?

Planning for mobile learning starts with developing a comprehensive strategy and roadmap for your organization. Strategy includes many topics, including overall business objectives, needs of stakeholders, content strategy, technology strategy, a design and development plan, and a project plan for implementation. There are many decisions to be made along the way, and sessions in the Strategy track, and the optional workshop by Brenda Enders will help answer your questions.

How do I design for mobile learning?

phonesGood design is critical to success in the development of mobile learning. Only by understanding the many capabilities of mobile devices can you figure out what problems you can solve by using mobile. You can start with an optional workshop on the basics of mobile interface design by Jim Ferolo and Chad Udell, and attend my session on “design thinking” for mobile learning, as well as sessions by Steven Hoober, Cammy Bean or Nick Floro.

How do I build effective mobile learning content?

The answer to this question depends on your ideas on what constitutes mobile learning content. I see it in the broadest terms, from presentation of materials to live experiences where mobile devices augment a learner’s interaction with the local environment in which they are operating. In our writing, Chad Udell and I have identified five kinds of mobile learning content, each requiring a different approach to development. Your can find sessions on building content in both the Development track and the Tools track at the conference.

How can I use mobile learning for performance support?

While there are many different ways to deploy mobile learning, I think that one of the smartest ways to use it is for performance support. Instead of just presenting materials in the traditional way (“push”), mobile learning works best when users ask for specific information when they need it (“pull”). Pull requires a new way of thinking for training departments, in terms of information architecture and availability. The sessions that reinforce the possibilities of pull are listed in the Performance Support track of the program.

Where is mobile learning going in the future?

No one can predict the future with certainty, but some of the most experienced people at the conference have sessions that point to trends over the next few years. Check out the keynote by Larry Irving, sessions by Geoff Stead, Buck Bard, or Robert Gadd, and a panel of experienced mobile learning pros hosted by David Kelly near the end of the conference for a glimpse of the future of mobile learning.

Where can I hang out with other techies like me?

Some sessions at mLearnCon are more technical that others, which will attract fellow programmers and developers. If you like tech talk, and want to delve into code and operating systems, there are lots of technical sessions for you by Chad Udell, Tim Martin, Jason Haag, or Jeff Batt, among many others. Even if you are not technically-minded, you will pick up lots of new ideas from these advanced developers.

Where is the really cool stuff?

I don’t mean to imply that other sessions are not cool, but this conference features some of the newest ideas and technologies for mobile learning emerging today. If you want leading edge thinking on mobile learning, then search concurrent sessions using Titles and Descriptions for these topics:

  • Games and gamification
  • Augmented reality
  • Multi-device learning
  • Wearable computing
  • Digital badges
  • Cloud computing
  • Immersive learning
  • xAPI applications
  • Big Data

Of course, these are not all the sources of information to answer your questions at mLearnCon 2014. There are also two stages of brief sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday, and many knowledgeable vendors who are more than willing to answer your questions about mobile learning. I look forward to meeting you at the conference. (For a more detailed version of this post with printable session listings, please go to the Float Mobile Learning blog.)

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