The ecosystem of mobile learning is in constant flux: advances in technology being rivalled by creative methods of applying it in the real world. Sometimes a technology creates possibilities, sometimes inventive minds find creative ways of applying old technologies, and occasionally something unforeseen happens that nobody was expecting.
I’m coming to the end of my time in Singapore, where i’ve been at the Mobile Learn Asia conference, bringing together sixty thought leaders and practitioners from around the world. It’s been a fascinating exploration of the state of play today and even now, less than a year since i wrote my book on ‘Mindset for Mobile Learning‘, so much has changed.
Certainly we have seen a lot of work around using mobile technology for distribution: in the formal environment, the use of mobile by organisations to distribute courses and materials and to coordinate learning events, in the informal space through the emergence and frenzy of the MOOCs as they move into the media spotlight. This is good, although of more interest to me is where we see truly innovative learning methodologies being exploited: mobile as an infrastructure for viewing content is to miss the point. A true mindset for mobile learning means that we exploit it to do things that simply couldn’t be done any other way, out of the classroom and anchored in your everyday reality.
The disruptive potential of technology was a central theme to the event: both in formal and informal spaces, both to disrupt systems and to disrupt mindsets. For the first time, the validity of traditional education models was being widely and openly challenged in mainstream conversation and one can sense that the Universities will need to accelerate their rate of adaptation to maintain position.
In the Social Age, as the relationship between organisation and employee changes, as the very nature of work evolves, so too does the way we access the information that we need. In my own NET Model of social leadership, ‘curation‘ and ‘sharing‘ of information are central, and the power to do this through mobile technology is central. Whatever form factor we settle on, the fact is that mobile technology is with us wherever we are. Several speakers noted how our devices increasingly feel like an extension of our selves and, from a neurological perspective, that’s what they become: tools that we use, like a pen or a car, that simply work.
I have long viewed technology as facilitating other things to happen, rather than being the end in itself, and the role of technology to facilitate communities, on a global scale, is coming to the fore: be that personal learning networks, communities of practice or discussion forums, the technology makes these conversations and communities more synchronous and, frankly, more immediately useful.
So technology is disrupting the ways we work, the ways we learn, the ways we communicate and share, the ways we think: paralleled with the social dynamics at play, the evolving nature of work and the move to a reputation based economy, we are in a state of revolution.
Not all of these individual technologies will succeed: we see devices thrown into the marketplace that drive thinking but may not be commercially successful, and that’s fine: the nature of the Social Age is that the healthy will thrive.
The conference last week was a fascinating glimpse into the divergent applications and thinking that are taking place right now: by next year, i expect the field to have evolved even further. Gamification, MOOCs, open education models, sensor technologies, all are evolving incredibly rapidly.
This is the time to be bold, the experiment, to play. We are not in a time limited stage of change: the Social Age is about constant change, where agility is the key to survive and thrive. I can’t think of a more exciting place to be!