How will advances in the use of mobile technology change the way we learn and work? As technology advances at an ever alarming rate, the opportunities it presents for learning professionals is always exciting to me. Mobile or m-learning (got to have a cool L and D term for it) is a hot topic right now. Let's take a look at how the (near) future may look in terms of m-learning.
Context is still king
In learning circles we often talk about context being important for learning. This involves showing why it's important for someone to learn a new skill or apply a new piece of information. Mobile technology now means that context also includes literally where and when a person is.
Remember how Tom Cruise was shown personalised advertising in Minority Report? The artificial intelligence in the stores and bill boards he passed knew who he was, his purchase history, interests, etc. and presented relevant offers.
How will this kind of technology impact learning?
Imagine walking up to the printer and being offered help with common tasks like using the manual feed tray, switching to A3 or fixing a paper jam were available on your phone? Or if you're visiting head office, your phone could offer directions to the board room for your meeting. Or you're on your way to a sales call and you are shown info about the client's business, your connections on LinkedIn who work there, and comments, feedback and ratings the client's employees have given about your or your competitor's product.
Basically, information about most things and people is out there, and your mobile device can bring it to you. This is made possible by the wonder of the Internet, and the fact that your phone or tablet can tell where you are, what other objects or people you are near and who you're meeting with (from your calendar).
The author of your own (mobile) fate
When the Web was invented, it was a way to connect with people and information using the Internet. Computer scientists used to be the only ones who could build pages on the Web. Today anyone, including you, can build a web page using the computer in front of you with a few clicks. The same has happened with digital video and music production and of course 'rapid' e-learning. The lesson - eventually technology becomes accessible to everyday people, to the point that most people can not only use it, but create with it without lots of technical expertise.
In the very near future, it will be the same with context-aware mobile technology. There will be authoring tools that will allow you to create just-in-time learning based on a person's location that can be used by you and I. Very little technical knowledge required.
This post by Clark Quinn describes some new tools that can help you take advantage of mobile technology. As the saying goes, "The future will be televised", on your mobile device that is.
Assuming for a moment that anything is possible (and let's face it, that's becoming more true), how and when could you use a mobile device that can display content based on where you are and what you're doing? Got a use or crazy idea? Please share a comment.