The fact is that i rarely read documents on my mobile phone. Why? Because it’s too small. It’s not really the right platform for the job. I do it when i need to do it, but it’s not my preference. I do use my phone a lot for Facebook, Twitter, checking email and finding out train times, checking directions, searching for pizza, Googling trivia and taking photographs of books to buy later as well as Shazamming music, making notes, accessing Soundcloud and, on occasion, making actual phone calls. I use it for those things that it’s suitable for. Some things that it’s exceptionally good at.
There is great potential for using mobile learning for performance support, for reactive, speedy interventions where we just need to learn something or remind ourselves of something rapidly. But most of the solutions that i see being developed now are simply e-learning modules that are being ported to mobile. It’s like taking a good book and reprinting it with smaller text on pages a quarter of the size.
A good piece of learning will affect change: change in skills, behaviours, outcomes. To be good, we need great content, powerful stories told with clarity and intent and the chance to explore and reflect on the subject. We need great learning design. And we need great technology, the infrastructure to design, build and distribute it seamlessly, allowing me to worry about my ignorance of the subject matter, not my ignorance of the technology.
Many mobile solutions currently under development miss this. The drive (and budgets) for mobile learning are all too often about opening up the channel by porting across content. Sure, this ticks a box, but don’t just do this.
This is the time for experimentation, to be bold, to fail and to spectacularly succeed. In the old world we could spend half a million pounds and spend ten months designing a programme. In the new world we should spend six weeks and thirty thousand doing something and learning what works. Then do it again and learn something else new. Then do it again and fail. Then learn from that failure. Then share what went right and wrong with other people and learn how they failed and succeeded. Then do it again and make a new mistake. Then do something brilliant. Then share it.
If you have to, spend 90% of your time and budget doing the old things that won’t work, but spend 10% taking chances and learning. Be proud to say that you are creating spaces for experimentation. We understand the methodology for creating learning in traditional spaces, for e-learning, but we need to develop our methodology for mobile. We need to inspire and reward people to taking chances and learning.