When Mobility Meets Learning

No matter where we are, we are surrounded by and connected to people. Some are talking on the phone, while others are checking e-mail, tweeting or text messaging. No matter their age, gender, national identity or socio-economic status, being connected is clearly an expectation of life, as we know it today.
As consumers embrace each new development on the mobile network, equipment and services fronts with growing enthusiasm, the value of deploying these same mobile networks, equipment and service in support of learning, training and performance support is increasingly obvious and self-evident.
The growth of mobile phone subscribers is a worldwide phenomenon. Last year, the International Telecommunications Union estimated approximately 4.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions in 2009, up from 1 billion in the Earth’s current population of approximately 6.8 billion people, this suggests that more than 60 percent of the world’s population is carrying a cell phone!
ComScore, Inc. recently reported on key trends in the U.S. mobile phone industry for October 2009 to January 2010. During this period, 234 million Americans were mobile subscribers. It noted that 42.7 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones, up 18 percent from the previous three months.
Because mobile telephones are already ingrained in today’s social practice, mobile learning is the anticipated “next big thing” in technology-mediated learning. Unlike most other technologies used to support enterprise learning, there is very little extra effort required to get people to adopt user-friendly mobile technologies such as iPods, mobile phones and e-book readers. Giving people more things to do with these devices to which they are already attached and with which they are already reasonably competent promises to jump-start the rate of mobile learning adoption. And the more that people depend upon the convenience of their phones and portable storage devices, the more they are wondering what else could be done with these connected applications, if only there were a little more power, a little more screen real estate, a few more productivity tools.
With online learning and e-learning, we’ve discovered how to extend the boundaries of the enterprise and the institution. We’ve found ways to take advantage of connectivity, connections and content- distribution capabilities to give learners alternatives for pursuing their professional development ambitions via online courses and programs.
We’ve seen great possibilities for customization and personalization of learning experiences. In some quarters, mobile wireless devices are described as “tools of mass disruption” that are going to help spark a period of innovation for learning technology stakeholders of all kinds.
Our challenge as learning professionals is to make mobile learning so compelling that stakeholders continue to see possibilities, not problems.

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