What does the iPad mini mean for mobile learning?

The cost of a corporate hotel, train ticked and food for a day is not far off the cost of an iPad Mini, the new ‘lightweight’ tablet on sale today from Apple. And that’s pretty much all you need to know: the technology isn’t disposable, but it’s certainly close to break even with running traditional face to face events.

It’s not uncommon today to see high end conference events or presentations where you get given an iPad: with a budget offering, we will start to see training events where you leave with the Mini, or where you get one in the post to complete the course on.

I wouldn’t particularly say that cost has been a significant barrier to adoption in many businesses, certainly i’ve worked with a number who have bought large fleets, but the cost of the Mini is significantly cheaper, cheaper to the point where it compares to the magical investment level of bringing people together for a day. It’s this ‘event’ cost that sticks in people’s minds, so hitting that gives real options.

In terms of functionality, it’s probably safe to categorise the difference between the full fat and semi skimmed versions are ‘production’ and ‘consumption’. For me, the iPad replaced the laptop: i have written three books on it, do all my email, indeed, i spend far more time producing that consuming. With it’s smaller screen size, the Mini is more of a consumption device: books, films, Apps, games, websites, learning, it’s all there.

Certainly it’s being marketed as a compact iPad, not a giant iPhone, which is important. The phone is great, but navigation concepts that work on websites don’t work on small screens. They do work on iPad though. So if they still work on the mini, meaning that you still only need to develop to iPad format, it will be a winner. If you need to develop separate concepts for the Mini (different menus etc) then it will lose. My bet is that it will be a clear and easy winner.

Some of the key areas that we are seeing interest in mobile learning is are around performance support, bringing relevant and compact learning directly to people in the workplace, geolocated to match where they are. With it’s pocket format, the iPad Mini is likely to enhance what we can do in this space.

The size also compares favourably against the eBook readers, meaning that it removes the clear distinction between Kindle and iPad: sure, there is a significant cost difference, and the different technologies of the ‘ink’ that let you read a kindle in daylight, but the market is less clear cut than it was. Certainly you can’t watch movies on the Kindle.

I don’t think the iPad mini is a game changer, but it’s an amplifier: for organisations that were hovering, it’s a push over the edge, for individuals who were cautious, it’s a clear offering. For strategists, it lets us consider more seriously enabling whole populations with tablets. It will certainly open up the way for further mobile learning.

As for me, yes, i’ll be one of the people queueing up today. After all, there’s no fun in being a nerd if you can’t get excited on days like this.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in 'Just in time' learning, Apps, Business Case, E-Learning, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, Learning, Learning Technology, Performance and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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