Mobile learning is confusing. In theory it sounds great, in
practice it’s often misattributed hype. Different devices have different
patterns of use. The fact that you make ‘responsive’ e-learning simply means
that it can be delivered on different devices NOT that it will be used on
different devices. M-learning is, therefore, often more fiction than fact.
1. DON’T expect
people to play tennis in a cupboard
People don’t do long e-learning courses on mobile phones.
It’s a device for short, episodic activity, not long, deep, reflective learning
experiences. Large e-learning courses on mobiles are a waste of time. It’s like
playing tennis in a cupboard.
2. DO use for
Formal stuff is hard on mobiles, so focus on informal, such
as fast facts, flashcards, quick quizzes, comms and support for students, social
media and so on. People use mobiles informally, so deliver informal learning.
3. DO think about social media
Mobiles have become the primary means for accessing social media. Twitter has become a great form of CPD for all sorts of professionals. Indeed, all forms of social media have some relevance in learning. So thing about this aspect of informal learning.
Long used for gathering material and evidence for assessment
in vocational learning. Mobiles are great at gathering data, whether notes,
images, audio or video. It gives impetus to learning by doing.
5. DO use for
OK, you’re stuck and only have a mobile to hand. That’s when
you need the right answer to a question or solution to a problem. This is
short, sharp and useful. Learning at the point of need.
6. DO use for spaced
The most ignored piece of theory in the psychology of
learning is the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve – we forget most of what people suppose we
learn – fact. The solution is spaced practice and mobiles are powerful,
portable and personal devices in our pockets, so we can deliver spaced practice
by delivering cues from any learning experience across a defined time.
7. DO use for assisted learning
Do use for useful apps that assist learning. A good exampel is the AI app, Photomaths. Teachers hate it, learners love it. You point your camera at the maths problem and it gives you the answer. Not only that, it gives you the breakdown of the steps between the question and answer. That's useful.
8. DO think about context
One of the advantages of mobile is the fact that it is personal, powerul and portable. Think about recommending its use in context, In the store in retail, in the ward in medicine and so on. With the Internet of Things we may even see Beacon driven learning, where learning is triggered by beacons in the workplace.
9. DON’T expect
people to pay
Yes, non-wifi use costs money. Don’t expect learners to pay
unless they have agreed to this approach. This sounds obvious but it’s a fact
that is too often forgotten in designing m-learning.
10. DON’T cheat on mobile
First, there’s confusion about what ‘mobile’ devices are, a
confusion that is confusing the hell out of everyone. When I say “he’s using a
mobile”, I don’t mean he’s using a ‘tablet’. Otherwise, I’d say “he’s using a
Yet people are reporting mobile
use as phones plus tablets. If the answer is, tablets are taken around by
people and used as second screens, then those two criteria also apply to my
laptop. This is sleight of hand. Don’t cheat on mobile metrics
In the same way that tablets have been hyped in schools, as
they are limited in terms of complex learning tasks such as long-form writing,
coding, tools etc., mobiles are hyped in formal learning. Don’t treat all
devices as delivery devices. Different devices have different learning