So it goes, the game world paves the way

It’s not hard to imagine that mobile games would out-pace the development of mobile learning. After all, games are fun, addictive and interactive, just to name a few of the characteristics that make gaming so attractive to us. Many people spend a lot of time gaming on their mobile devices. About 17.4 million people in America downloaded mobile games in the last quarter of 2006 (March 5, Telephia report), and that grew 45% from the same quarter a year before.

Ok, so learning is not as sexy as gaming, we all know that. However, as instructional designers and course developers aim to bring gaming conventions to e-Learning courses, we can expect that down the road these conventions will make it to m-Learning… there’s only one problem with that… NO ONE IS DOING M-LEARNING!!!I caveat that by saying that no one in the US is really doing it. M-learning has some presence in Europe and Asia, which isn’t surprising since they have long been trend-setters in the area of mobile device use.  But I don’t know of many companies or organizations that are really doing it here in the US. I’m sure there are some companies that are leveraging mobile devices for learning. Most of those companies are doing podcasts or perhaps some type of training or reference program on a PDA or smart phone. I must also acknowledge that the medical industry and some in the engineering and industrial space have been using specialized mobile devices for years. Those industries are also leveraging off the shelf business devices such as PDA’s, smart phones and the like. There is also a nascent movement in academia, with the use of text message based assessments and some other interesting uses of mobile devices as a gateway to references.

But my point here is not to highlight who is using mobile devices for learning, performance support, workflow learning, etc. My point is to bring attention to who is not using these devices for learning. The data indicates that we have plenty of people willing to download content or view content over their mobile Web browser. Mobile learning is no more difficult to deliver than e-Learning. Setting up a WAP server and building some small xHTML modules is no harder than setting up a regular Web server. Most mobile devices also support Java (J2ME), and more devices are coming with Flash Lite from Adobe (link to Flash Lite page). As a Flash developer, I’ve already created a course development tool for Flash Lite, more on that in an upcoming blog. HotLava Software’s Learning Mobile Author (LMA) already has an authoring suite and provides a server to help you build and deliver content. Check out Hot Lava’s site, they have a bunch of courses that you can download and play.

The tools are here, and the impact can be great. We just need to get started. Jump on it.


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