Making Mobile Learning Work – LearnX 2013 Panel Discussion Summary

Posted on : September 16th, 2013
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It will be stating the obvious when I say that there is huge amount of interest in mobile learning across the globe. Technological shifts like movement away from Flash to HTML, and rapid adoption of tablet devices are shaking up how learning content is designed, and how learners access them. While the L&D teams and learning solution providers are quickly adapting themselves to these changes, most of have many questions around how to make best use of mobile learning.

website-banner-blogThis is what the topic of discussion was in one of the panel discussions in this year’s LearnX conference (held last week in Sydney, Australia), where I was invited as one of the panelists along with Connor O’ Keefe (DEEWR), Nicole White (Senior Learning Designer), and Mark Fenna-Roberts (ITC Learning). Panel was moderated by Anna Barlett-Brag (Ripple Effect Group).

Here is summary of topics that were discussed and key points that I took away from the discussion –

What is m-Learning? Majority agreed that just porting of content to mobile devices is not m-learning. To deliver a true mobile learning experience, we should explore how we can support learners with Just In Time (JIT) learning content, and performance support tools so at to really use the power that mobile devices offer.

What are the barriers to adopt m-Learning? Anne shared a survey result which pointed out main reasons for organizations not adopting mobile learning were –

  • Gap in knowledge on technology
  • Learner Interest
  • Distractions while using mobile devices
  • Evolving technology

Members of audience also added couple of reasons, such as business case not being strong enough (learners using desktop outnumbered those in the field), and IT restrictions dues to security reasons.

Another interesting barrier discussed was a need for learner literacy – do we need to train learner to use mobile devices properly to get the best out of them? While some presented a point of view that there indeed is a need for such training, majority view was that rather learning platform and content design should evolve so that there is no need for training learner of any profile (age or occupation).

What’s the stance on BYOD? This question was first thrown to the audience and about 8-10% of audience members said their organizations have BYOD policy. Panel agreed that BYOD movement will gain momentum as it makes sense for a company’s board to leverage devices people have without investing in them. However for that to happen IT departments would need to sort out application and security issues, which they eventually would have to under pressure from the management.

Web apps or native apps? Security of content was talked about while considering the decision to go one way or the other. Another interesting point was raised that even with native apps – most learning apps don’t use native functionalities of devices, such as swipe, pinch-zoom etc making the experience not that smooth.

I am of firm opinion that web apps are much more future compatible than native apps and had written a post earlier :  m-Learning Evolution – From Native to Web Apps

What will we be talking about next year? On this my response was that we should have moved away from wondering if mobile learning would can work for us to figuring out how to best support performance and how can we start looking at ROI.

What’s your take on the topics raised above, and where do you think we would be in a year’s time? Would love to read your responses.

manishg@gc-solutions.net'

Manish Gupta

Manish is CEO, G-Cube. Over last 13 years Manish has led G-Cube from a startup stage to its current stature as one of India's and the world's leading e-learning organization.

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