This is becoming a question I get asked frequently, and I also see it asked quite a bit to other people. I happen to think this is a very valid question, especially as people begin to participate in conferences and conversations on the topic of using mobile for learning.
To me there are good arguments for answering yes and no. Let me explain.
The Answer is Yes
I think we can easily make an argument for simplifying how we refer to learning based on different definitions and the usage of technology and devices that goes along with the experience. The questions here is why not call it Learning, instead of e-Learning (electronic), m-Learning (mobile) t-Learning (Tablet), u-Learning (ubiquitous), etc. After all, our ultimate goal as learning professionals is to design learning experiences for learners by any means necessary, no?
For those frequent readers of this blog, you may have noticed that whenever possible I use phrases like “designing learning experiences” and “the next generation of learning” in an attempt to gradually steer the conversation toward thinking about designing learning for the new multiscreen world we live in, where the desktop is just one of many screens.
The Answer is No
However, I still see lots of benefits of keeping some of these specific references separate, especially eLearning and mLearning. I think mobile learning is in its nascent stage, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s going to be possible with mobile. Most learning professionals are still struggling to see the big deal about using mobile devices for delivering learning experiences to their learners.
I think there’s quite a bit of confusion out regarding the differences between eLearning and mobile learning and why people should care about mLearning.
Case in point, I was looking at the winners in this year’s Reader’s Choice Awards for the 2012 “Best of Elearning!Awards” and because of my focus on mobile authoring, I noticed the winner in the best mobile authoring solution category and couldn’t help to think just how misinformed we are in mLearning when we vote Adobe Captivate as the best tool in this category. Don’t get me wrong, Captivate is an excellente eLearning development tool, but to even consider it in this category, because of a new feature called HTML5 export, just means we have a long ways to go in understanding what mLearning really is and the types of tools that are required to create truly amazing mobile experience that delight users.
I’m also very optimistic because I realized there’s much work to be done in mobile learning to make sure that as an Industry, we don’t miss this amazing opportunity we have in front of us, and don’t simply dismiss mobile as merely an extension of eLearning, and something we can simply check off by converting our existing desktop eLearning to HTML5.
For mobile learning to be a success, what we need is a revolution, a new way of thinking, and not simply an evolution of eLearning.
Keeping eLearning separate from mLearning at this point will help us educate newcomers to mLearning about the differences between developing for the desktop and the fact that there is an ever-growing number of mobile devices out there that connected learns want to use to Learn.
What do you think, is it time to remove the ‘e’ and ‘m’ from Learning?