Archive for the ‘instructional design’ Tag
As an advocate for corporate mobile learning, I’m always encouraged when I hear about a company that takes it seriously. Lots of companies have experimented with podcasts and some have even produced html based learning content for their customers or employees, but it has yet to win broad acceptance in the corporate training community. However, there are a few exceptions, companies that have taken the plunge and they are realizing the benefits of their investment in mobile learning.
In an earlier post, I wrote about Mobile Learning at Merrill Lynch, where they’ve adopted m-Learning as a serious option for training their employees. In another, similar success story, Accenture (a large consulting firm) has embraced mobile learning for their employees and their senior executives in particular. Here’s a link to an article in Training Magazine where they discuss the mobile learning program at Accenture.
Accenture chose to use mobile learning as an augmentation to it’s normal e-Learning platform, specifically for compliance training on a number of topics. Results from their internal surveys indicate that learners liked the new mobile training modality and they plan to offer more of it in the future. Highlights from their internal survey of learners include the following observations:
- more than 1000 completions of 7 courses
- overall satisfaction rating of 4.4 out of 5, compared to 4.0 out of 5 for traditional e-Learning
- 92% of those surveyed would like to use their mobile device for training
- most executives who took the training would prefer their mobile learning in chunks of 10-15 minutes
- over half of the respondents would prefer an option to download their courses so they could take them when not connected to the Internet
An important thing to note here is the fact that some of the findings reinforce many of the guidelines we’ve been given when designing mobile learning assets. Those guidelines include keeping your mobile learning assets between 5-15 minutes (small chunks) and the suggestion that you consider the fact that the learner may not have a good connection/or any connection to the Internet. It’s good to see that the designers in this case took the time to consider these guidelines when designing their courses. You can read the whole article (here), make sure you read the “Quick Tips” section for some valuable insight into their design process, perhaps it can help you with your own designs. I really liked the idea of bookmarking all the pages, that makes a lot of sense for a mobile learner who may be intermittently engaged in your training.
Thanks to Training Magazine and author Sarah Boehle for this article.
I keep reading and hearing more and more about how location and location based services will be the the next big wave in mobility. Many devices already come equipped with GPS antennas and others are able to approximate the user’s current location through triangulation (measuring distance by calculating signal strength from multiple cell towers or WiFi hot spots). And with companies like Garmin teaming up with Asus to deliver smartphones, you know the industry is getting very serious about leveraging the location of mobile users.
For a moment, let’s put aside the privacy issues associated with using one’s location (there are many issues there, but industry sentiment is moving toward a model where the user determines whether he or she wants to be “found” at a particular moment). Let’s focus on how we can use location in our training and education.
There are already a number of training examples involving learner location and mobile devices. One example that comes to mind is MIT Environmental detectives. There are also a number of tour-like applications for museums and galleries where location is used to inform learners about exhibits, etc. But I think location will be used in new and different ways. For example, we can take an employee’s location and provide him or her with active directions during an orientation period. We could provide an individualized map to each learner to help them find the people and places they need to visit.
We could also use location services to alert a coach to a learner’s location, so the coach could actively engage the learner as they enter a relevant physical space. Think about this scenario: You are a new employee at an auto plant. You are learning a new job and as you come into the space where you will learn your new job, an expert (coach) notices your location and contacts you immediately easing your apprehensive state of mind and providing you with a series of video tips about the job delivered to your mobile device. The coach informs you that you can reach out to her at any point in the process for feedback.
I’m sure you will have other ideas, this is just one scenario that comes to mind for me. Just think about how you may use location as a teacher or trainer in the future. The trends point to a market filled with location aware devices in the next few years.
Google and Apple appear to have different outlooks on mobile application development, and those differences will certainly have an impact on how we consume mobile content. According to this BusinessWeek.com article, Two Mobile Software Visions, each company is preparing to leverage their strengths with a distribution model that corresponds with those strengths.
Apple is very strong in the native app market, where it’s App Store is a marketplace for all sorts of applications. Users download the applications to the iPhone and take advantage of that native functionality, storage and performance that comes with being on the device itself.
Google is very strong in the web-based application market and it domintates the search advertising that goes along with it’s web focus. Google is betting that Web-based applications that use the strength of networks and servers will be the future of mobile content consumption.
But both companies overlap in certain places. iPhone applications often link out to external services and resources and Google’s Android applications are native on the Android open source operating system (Google also has an Android market place, much like the Apple App Store). Google plans to push Web-based applications in the months and years to come and Apple will probably continue to push it’s App Store applications. Ultimately, it comes down to money. Apple makes approx 30% on each application it sells from the App Store and Google makes billions of dollars with it’s ad revenue from search and Google Ads.
As mobile consumers, we will have to make choices about how we want to consume our content. In the world of education, much of the content resides on the Web. Most of our Learning Management Systems are web-based and offer limited functionality offline. However, it can be argued that eLearning really got of the starting blocks with CD roms, which are more representative of the native-app model in my opinion. If the evolution of eLearning has been from native pc applications (CDs and disk based) to Web based applications, the question is, will that be the way that mobile learning goes? If so, you might say that Apple is re-hashing the hold model and Google is pushing the new model. BUT, I don’t think it’s that simple.
I think that Apple is leveraging the strengths of an on-device application in an age where connectivity to mobile networks is still spotty in many places, while allowing for connectivity when and where applicable and desired. Apple is also selling the iPhone as a platform and pushing too much to “the cloud” would be somewhat self-defeating. Google is setting itself in a position of strength in the Web-based market because that’s where it’s strengths are and it doesn’t produce hardware, so a physical platform is not attractive to Google.
We will see mobile learning in a variety of forms, some will be native applications and others will be Web applications. If I had to bet though, I would favor the Web-based model because it’s the most natural fit for the current eLearning architecture. Re-purposing your Web-based LMS courses to run on a mobile browser will be an easier transition for companies and learning institutions. There are also more developers with the skill sets required to build mobile Web applications since those skills are in many ways a subset of traditional Web development. More developers along with ease of transition will make the Web-based application the winner in my opinion. Both the iPhone OS and Google’s Android have good Web experiences on their respective mobile devices, so both should continue to be platforms that we will target for mobile learning. Overall, I think most content will be Web-based.
Recent stats from Juniper, ComScore and others point to the rise in data usage with mobile devices. Most industry leaders have been predicting this shift from voice to data from some time. Basically, this means that more people are using their mobile devices to gain access to the web and do things that they used to do from their PC or in many cases, they are doing things they have never done before because they are accessing the web when they are mobile. The new data was sent to me in an email from Mofuse.
“Worldwide, Juniper predicts there will be 1.7 billion mobile web users by 2013. In the US alone, there are 63 million mobile Web users today. Add a projected growth rate of 60% over the next two years, and well, the mobile web is very, very big.
In May comScore released a study that showed mobile users (in the US) are accessing the Mobile web 35.3% of the time, compared to 37% for voice and 27.7% for SMS.
Just this month, IPG’s Universal McCann and AOL released some compelling new data based on their poll of 1,800 mobile users between October 2008 and March 2009. The data reinforces how smart-phone users are using their devices. Here are some interesting data points:
1 out of every 7 minutes of media consumption takes place via mobile device
19 MM mobile web users access the internet on a weekly basis. This represents about 1/3 of all mobile web users.
73% of all mobile web users search for maps and directions “
The third point about maps and directions is key because that’s one time where you can be sure that the users are mobile.
So how does this impact mobile learning? Well, in a broad way we can see that the more people are using their mobile devices to access the web, the more comfortable they are getting with using those devices to access important information (and sometimes not so important information). We also see that the devices are continuing to advance in capability and features. But beyond that we can take a look at how mobile users are using thier devices. Mobile users are turning to their devices to solve problems, take the maps and directions data as an example. When a mobile user needs to find directions (i.e. solve the problem of being lost or not knowing their next destination), they turn to the trusty device to solve that problem. As users find that they can get that information while mobile, they become more likely to turn to that device for other problems. There is nothing stopping the user from turning to their device to get information to solve a work related problem. Users will start to look to the mobile device for references, coaching, performance support, etc. We just need to make sure there’s something to find when they get there.
Thanks to Judy Brown for her Hotlist where I found a new book titled, “Mobile Learning Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training” edited by Mohamed Ally – Athabasca University in Canada. The book is quite long and covers several topics. I haven’t had a chance to read a lot of it yet, but what I did read was insightful. I immediately went to the 2nd section in the 1st chapter because of its’ title “A Model For Framing Mobile Learning”. Anytime I see the word model I gravitate toward it. I think the reason for this is that when we start creating models, that reflects a deeper understanding of the concepts behind mobile learning. We continue to show lots of excitement about mobile learning, but models really help us put that excitement into practice. I urge those who are excited about m-Learning to look at the models in this new book and other books to see if they work for their projects. Here is a Venn diagram representing part of the FRAME model presented in the book.