The Single Biggest Myth about Mobile Learning [#mLearning]

"Inspiration Exists but it has to find you working." - Pablo Picasso

“Inspiration Exists but it has to Find You Working” – Pablo Picasso

There are many great blog posts out there about Mobile Learning Myths and not a single one mentions what I think is the biggest misconception about Mobile Learning.

The majority of the myths mentioned out there include things like:

  • You cannot condense real learning into the smaller screens.
  • Mobile Devices are too distracting for providing effective learning.
  • Mobile Learning is just the same eLearning shrunk down to fit on smartphone and tablets.
  • Learning isn’t secured enough on mobile devices.
  • etc.

These are all valid misconceptions about mobile learning, that get the advantages of mLearning across. However in this short post, I would like to share what I think is the biggest misunderstanding we need to correct in order to have a successful learning design strategy.

Single Biggest Myth: Mobile Learning is ONLY About Mobile Devices

There it is!

To me, the single biggest myth that we must correct is thinking that Mobile Learning is only about learning via mobile devices.

It makes sense to think that Mobile Learning is only about Mobile but to me this is essentially the opposite of what is true.

The term mobile learning has served us well up to this point, primarily because it highlights the importance mobile plays in our lives.  Furthermore, all the talk about mLearning has helped raise awareness and has answered the question, ‘why should I care about mobile?’

Now that mobile has achieved a decent level of maturity, is time to move to phase two, and begin answering the question, ‘how do I design true mobile learning?’

The key to this next phase is to adopt a broader mindset about learning design and it starts by thinking well beyond just mobile devices.

The death of the PC has been hugely exaggerated

I love what Ethan Marcotte said about this in his book, Responsive Web Design:

“Responsive design is NOT about designing for mobile. And it’s NOT about designing for the desktop, either. Rather, it’s about adopting a more flexible, device-agnostic approach to designing for the web.”

To paraphrase Ethan, here’s how I think this applies to us in Learning Design:

Mobile Learning design is NOT about designing learning for mobile. And it’s NOT about designing learning for the desktop, either. Rather Mobile Learning is about adopting a more flexible, device-agnostic approach to designing ‘learning’ for the web.

In other words, mobile learning is an opportunity to hit the reset button and start fresh. It’s not about designing learning only for a smartphone, or only for a tablet, and certainly not about designing only for the desktop, mobile learning is about designing for ALL devices, ideally using a single project that gets published and delivered through a single URL.

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of designing e-Learning for the desktop and m-Learning for mobile devices. Rather, think about embracing strategies and tools that can enable you to design flexible and device-agnostic learning that is accessible anytime, anywhere and on any screen.

And this is what I think is the single biggest myth about Mobile Learning.

, ,

  • mark2741

    I think it’s a mistake to directly correlate the definition of ‘Responsive’ web design with reponsive learning. A website is a completely different animal. Ensuring that text and images and videos and other assets respond to the device’s viewport for a website is, for the most part, a technical exercise that has been dealt with easily by all CMS’s, design tools, etc. Responsive web sites, with *very* few exceptions, are providing the same content yet tailored to different viewports + touch. They are not truly designing different experiences.

    ‘Responsive’ design for mobile is a different animal as it requires a completely different design to be effective. mLearning/responsive learning is responding to the learner’s needs while knowing the inherent strengths and/or limitations of the device they are presently using. Big difference. And, in my opinion, requires two separate designs – one that works for the ‘big screens’ of desktops and tablets, and another that works for the ‘small’ screens of phones. So a ‘learning’ experience when accessed by a desktop/tablet might be the traditional one we’ve come to expect, but that same experience when accessed via phone needs to be differentiated to be useful. This may be as simple as pairing it down to essential checklists, videos, job-aids, etc.

    • Mark, I can’t pare mine down, as every portion of my lessons for struggling readers is based on progressive concepts, and must be included. Do you think using Responsive Adobe Captivate won’t allow me to do this effectively? I’m not an evangelist! I’m honestly asking. 🙂

      • mark2741

        Can’t you just use scalable HTML output? In other words, ditch the ‘responsive design’ project and just publish your content to HTML5. Unless the mobile version needs to be presented differently…but sounds like that is not the case.

    • I’ve always thought of mobile devices and tablets being best for consuming information (and some basic input such as commenting) and desktops/laptops are more for creating (such as creating lesson plans, doing homework etc.).

  • Jeff Kortenbosch

    Nice post RJ. I agree the next phase is to rethink the way we design our courses to make them mobile friendly and still work pleasantly on laptops and desktops. Traditional corporations are probably at a point where they need to start thinking about offering more than just desktop learning and redesign their programs to work accross devices.

  • Thanks for the post, I found your way of
    thinking interesting. I’m wondering what do you think: will in fact there be some
    device-agnostic solution or rather not?

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes