Archive for the ‘mobile learning market’ Category

Wearable Tech – The New Frontier for Learning


(This editor from the motley fool sums up how I see the current state of wearables.)

I started learning about mobile technology in 2006 and I really saw the potential for learning. Now we are starting to see some great implementations in the way of mobile technology employed as a learning tool. From the more advanced technology of augmented reality applications to simple text messaging (SMS), people are learning and learning to use their mobile phones and tablets for learning in the moment of need.

Wearable technology is an extension of mobile technology, beyond the smartphone and tablet. We are at the beginning and wearable technology will advance and find it’s way to our clothing and our accessories (watches, bracelets, glasses, shoes, gloves, etc.). There are a number of accessories available already:

Google glass: Glass is a very compelling learning platform. There are even some simple things you can do right now to create Google glass content with the Mirror Api, which allows you to create content in HTML, video, rich media and text, so it’s not a big leap for many of those with some basic technical skills. I like the format of the Mirror API because it’s a card style layout and that has worked really well with mobile learning products.

Smart watches (Galaxy Gear, Pebble to name a couple): Right now, these watches are seeming to fit a real nitch in the way that they provide notifications, which is unique compared to smartphones. Smartphones can typically provide you with an audible notification that something has happened (example, a sound when a text message arrives), but they require you to remove the phone from your pocket to check the notification and that interrupts the flow of what you’re doing. A smartwatch can provide that same notification and you can react by simply looking at your wrist. If you don’t need to act, then you don’t need to interrupt your flow. A passive indicator can be helpful in retaining attention and focus, which we know is key in learning. There’s lots more to think about when it comes to how smartwatches can be useful to the world of technology enhanced learning, so we’re just getting started.

There will be a lot to come on this topic and how we can further leverage wearable technology for learning purposes. In the meantime, check out this podcast and the article below to gain a perspective on wearables.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/12/wearable-computers/

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Enterprise Mobility and Mobile Learning

Enterprise Mobility

Many predictions for 2013 include the rise of enterprise mobility. I know that my company is pursuing an enterprise-level plan and they are not alone. Many companies and organizations from small private companies to large government agencies are beginning the move to enterprise mobility and most have long ago abandoned the notion that it’s a bad thing. This is all good for us as mobile learning technologists, designers and developers. My current focus is on building an enterprise application for my company. I like the idea of working on internal applications for a number of reasons. First, enterprise applications can really allow you to focus on the problems you see on an every day basis within your organization. You can build an application that facilitates better communication or connectivity between employees or departments and you can boost overall collaboration by doing so. You can build an application that provides quick information for employees who need to do specific tasks. For example, your department may rely on up-t0-the-minute metrics in order to make decisions so you could build an application that shows that information at any time. And since employees are most likely to have their mobile device with them at all times, their situational awareness would be improved by using your application on their device.

If you’re an instructional person and you’re reading this, you may be struck by how much these examples and ideas sound more like performance support and productivity applications than learning applications and you would be right. Most of the thinking I do about mobile learning applications seems to come back to information delivered at the point of need or learning content that helps someone do a job. I used to think of learning and performance support as two different things. Now, I think about learning as a huge, broad container that includes performance support and all the other things that we traditionally include when we think about learning. I think there’s space for all of it with mobile learning. I find myself learning with my mobile devices out of boredom and curiosity as well as for an immediate performance-driven need. However, I seem to hear some in the instructional design community who don’t think performance support is learning. Personally, I don’t think that is an important argument to have because we should really be owning all learning and not simply what we have traditionally owned. As an employee of a company that continues to implement a mobile enterprise strategy, I will continue to think about all ways to help out, whether it’s performance support applications, informational applications or other training applications because they all help our employees do a better job and when people do a good job, they are happy. Overall, let’s own the mobile learning space, including performance support because I think we as instructional designers/developers are better equipped to do that than most others!

A great new app, Coach’s Eye, knows how to use its senses

Coach's Eye App on Sale

Yesterday, I posted about mobile learning and using the sensors on the device in your learning design. Tomorrow a great app will launch in Apple’s App Store, called Coach’s Eye, from TechSmith. Coach’s Eye is an app designed to help coaches, parents and teammates evaluate an athelete’s performance and provide feedback through video. Think about it as if you’re the commentator watching the game with the magic pen that writes on the screen. I had a chance to preview this application and I can tell you that it’s easy to use and provides something I haven’t seen in any other apps, the ability to review and slow down video so you can provide feedback in a structured way. The end product is a video that you, the coach, produce with your feedback.

Among other things, Coach’s Eye allows you to slow down video to highlight certain places for improvement. You can highlight by drawing a box, a circle or lines and the best part is that you can comment on the video to give verbal feedback. You can then send the video to the person you’re coaching so they can concentrate on areas to improve.

Once you take a look at this app, you’ll immediately see how useful it can be for an athlete. I personally used it already to start working on some improvements to my baseball swing. I intend to keep using the application for that purpose. However, I think this app can easily be used in the broader training world. Think about a scenario where you or a coworker are charged with performing a task. A simple example would be the use of a specific piece of equipment like a printer or even a piece of software. Coach’s Eye would be beneficial because you could record a procedure and highlight certain things along the way while also providing verbal direction to the user.

The best thing about Coach’s Eye is that the designers and developers took the approach of using the device’s sensors. They realized that a mobile device has both added functionality and limitations when compared to a desktop or laptop computer. And since a mobile device has a camera and can easily be manipulated to provide good video in any environment, why not leverage that strength to allow the user to do something other than consume the content of others… you actually create your own learning content with their application!

I give kudos to the developers at TechSmith for building a focused, easy to use application. Like a lot of good applications, they stuck to a simple, intuitive design and they make it fun with a colorful interface.

Disclosure: I do not work for TechSmith, and I don’t have any official affiliation with their company. I was able to get on a list of testers for Coach’s Eye. I believe the app and the concept of coaching through the use of mobile devices are both heading in the right direction.

The Concept of Immediacy in Mobile Learning

 

Harris Interactive recently did a poll for Ask.com (article provided by Mobile Marketer) to reveal answers to questions about how mobile users really use their devices to find information. One thing that stuck out was that users really want their information fast and they are often searching for specific answers to specific questions rather than large macro-level topics.

Some interesting facts from the poll:

  • “66 percent of mobile users said they are more likely to ask timely questions when they are not in front of their computer”
  • 81% of 1500 respondents said they expect information immediately
  • “30 percent—of smartphone users leverage their mobile phones to access the Web more than they use their computer to access the same information”
  • “Forty percent of smartphone users indicated that they are more influenced by users’ opinions given within the last day than users’ opinions that were given a month or so ago.” – That number goes to 67% for 18-24 year olds

Polls like this indicate that we are dealing with a very different learner in many cases than the learner we educate on the desktop or in the classroom. This learner is often not looking to learn “how to ride a bicycle”, rather the learner wants to know “how to push the pedals” (I know the analogy could be better, but I hope you get the point).

It’s tempting for us as instructional designers and developers to want to provide more context to our learners so they have a broader and deeper understanding of subject matter. I think that we are taking the right approach by leaning toward giving our learners knowledge and depth rather than tiny granular pieces. However, if we do that we may also show a lack of respect for our learner’s needs at the time. Mobile learning should be about giving the learner the content they need in a timely fashion so they can get the job done, we should not be making decisions for our learners.

BUT… we also know that learners often want to learn more about a subject if that information is easily accessible. We can give them what they need, while also providing them with what they want in the form of greater context. Think about how the immediacy of information can drive your learners to your learning application, but also how you can take advantage of the fact they are there. Take a look at a few mobile sites on your device and see how they do it.  Some recent mobile learning sites recommended to me are:

Target: http://sites.target.com/site/en/spot/mobile.jsp

Toyota: http://touch.toyota.com/index.html

American Express: https://online.americanexpress.com/myca/mobl/us/login.do

These sites are not perfect by any means and they are not learning sites, but they may lend some ideas to you for your next mobile learning application. A

How m-Learning Can Effect Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality Image

I haven’t posted in awhile,  but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been paying attention to the mobile world. And one thing I’ve noticed is the nervousness building in the mobile community regarding net neutrality and what some companies are accused of wanting to do to block net neutrality. This post from engadget attempts to explain how Google and Verizon are trying to deal with net neutrality. Overall, one major fear is that companies will try to limit access to certain content by providing a tiered system of access to the networks, charging higher prices for faster Internet access, network speed, and access to content. Companies could block certain content and allow favorable exposure to consumers if a company pays to have that exposure. Some liken this to the television world, where companies pay to advertise and gain exposure to a consumer base and content is censored.

You may be asking yourself, how does this effect mobile learning? Well, I can see it playing out in several different ways. First of all, learning content is something that we all want and learning content can really help to level the playing field for those who may normally lack access to good educational content in their local communities. And educational content can come in many forms, i.e. tutorials, manuals, courseware, web-based college courses, standard operating procedures, videos, forum/blog posts, etc.

Some net neutrality advocates (and I think we all are advocates of freedom and access, at least to some extent) fear that mobile access to content of all kinds will be the first to go if the battle for net neutrality takes a turn for the worse. The worry is that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will apply the lessons learned from the wired Internet (i.e. they just provide all access at a standard price and speed, but they could make more money if they had multiple tiered systems like they do for cable television) to the mobile and wireless Internet and the services that go along with that. They worry that ISPs will find a way to selectively provide content to consumers based on the price those consumers pay and the plans they choose. This means that my wireless Internet provider, Verizon Wireless, could charge me the highest monthly price to receive the fastest access with the most content. If I paid less, I would get less access to content or slower connection speeds or both.

It seems to me that we as consumers could combat the possible move to restrict access and speed by insisting that the mobile/wireless Internet allow for learning content to be accessed by all consumers at all price levels. As I stated earlier, learning content comes in all sorts of forms and sorting those forms out from other forms of content would be extremely difficult service providers. Learning content can come from academic institutions, corporate knowledge bases, consumers etc. So insisting that all learning content be accessible to all could allow for a fairly large classification of content to be free and unrestricted for all consumers.

This may seem like a stretch or may even seem irrelevant to some, but I would love to live in a world where all those who have a connection to the mobile Web also have unrestricted access to learning content of all kinds. To limit the access of any learning content to only those who pay high prices for unrestricted access would be a real step backwards and a disservice to all.

This is probably one of the more opinion oriented posts I’ve written, but it seems important to a lot of people that we have access to learning content on the mobile web. I think that if we can convince the powers that be that we should allow learning content to be a special unrestricted category for all subscribers to the mobile/wireless Internet, we will continue a tradition where the Web provides a real service to all who consume information from it. Otherwise, it may just become another commodity where the haves are separated from the have-nots, and it could also prevent learning content providers from serving their audience.