The Promise of True mLearning is a Tough Sell
For the last few weeks, I have been busy delivering webinars and workshops on the topic of mobile learning, and throughout, the one question I hear constantly has to do with people asking me for mLearning examples.
This got me thinking about the true meaning of that very popular question. In other words, I was thinking about what most people really expect to see as mLearning examples?
In my experience, most people who ask to see mLearning examples are going to only be fully satisfied if they see the same old traditional eLearning courses (that we know and love) running on a tablet, for example, the iPad.
If you show people something much simpler, without all the flying text and animations, you will often hear ‘but that’s too simple, where’s the rest of the text and everything else?’ if you show people something a bit more complex, people ask ‘yeah but does it support SCORM tracking?’ if you show them prototypes that prioritize content over navigation, they will invariable ask how they can incorporate more buttons and more navigation and everything else they currently have on the desktop PC?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to show at this point that is uniquely mobile, most examples today are basically eLearning courses converted to HTML5 and shrunk to fit the smaller screen.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having these expectations. Mobile in general requires a new mindset and change is something we are not very comfortable with. For the most part, when presented with uncertainty we often retreat to our comfort zone.
The more I think about mLearning, interact with clients and deliver mLearning workshops, the more I’m convinced that mobile technology and the inherent constraints of dealing with multiple screens isn’t our biggest challenge on the way to the promise mLearning land, but rather the real challenge is embracing change in order to reimagine the future of learning, rather than simply retrofitting what we have today on the desktop into the small screen.
Because of this epiphany, I spend quite a bit of time during the mLearning workshops I have been delivering to companies, doing several hands-on exercises, that help learning designers reimagine their current eLearning for the new multiscreen world. Furthermore, I also have my students go through several sketching exercises using various templates for smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs.
The goal in all of this is to wean participants off old PC design habits and begin adopting new mobile design principals. Initially most people end up sketching out smaller versions of what they already have on the desktop, however with some practice people tell me later that these exercises have helped them think different about designing for this new mobile shift.
In closing, I leave you with the same advice I give my students, namely to be open-minded and don’t be too quick at dismissing something you aren’t comfortable with. Mobile changes everything and for all of us to be successful, it’s going to require a new mindset and the sooner we realize this and embrace change, the more successful we will be!