Access On The Go

12th Sep 2013

I’m pretty sure that in each of the last ten years that I’ve worked in the elearning industry, at least one person has told me that it would be the year that mobile learning would take off. Well, I think we can be sure that mobile is now here and that it doesn’t look very much like we imagined it would ten years ago. For a start, it isn’t about content, or at least not just about content. The vision that most people had ten years ago was that they would be able to take desktop content, shrink it, and push it out to smaller screens. This was tried many times and rarely worked.

When it is about content the devices themselves are more powerful and capable than anyone would have imagined. We didn’t even think about phones that look like they do today, and our vision was fixed to the idea of a tiny screen and a physical keyboard. Sat on the desk next to me as I write this is a smartphone with a touchscreen that has the same 1080p HD resolution as the 42” TV in my living room.

These tiny screens have become a fully fledged channel for the consumption of media; whether that’s professional content from established providers like the BBC or new players like Netflix, or user generated content coming through YouTube or Vimeo. Our expectations have changed accordingly. We expect content that is high quality, useful to us and easily accessible.

Those last two requirements - useful to us and easily accessible - have partly come about due to the ubiquitous connectivity of the devices themselves, but also because of the way the web has changed as well (after all it’s the web that connects devices and their owners to the content - and to each other). It has become the main source of information and knowledge for most people.

So what does this mean for L&D and what role does the LMS play?

  • Learner expectations have changed, and we have to deliver content that makes the most of the devices on which it is delivered.
  • We mustn’t forget the blend. Mobile is not a complete solution any more than elearning or the classroom. We need to find smart ways to combine and connect our classroom and desktop content with our mobile learners.
  • Used properly the LMS has the potential to be at the heart of all of this. The platform itself needs to be accessible to mobile devices and act as an easily searchable hub for content, in the same way as Wikipedia, YouTube or iMDB.
  • The LMS should be the glue that connects classroom activity, traditional desktop content and learners on the go. They don’t just want access to content at the time of delivery, but also afterwards for reference when they are in the workplace.

As is so often the case, we have the opportunity to use the available tools to do something new and innovative, if we choose to do so.

About the author
Barry Samson

Barry Sampson is a consultant focusing on the use of technology to improve workplace performance. In 2009 he co-founded Onlignment, a consultancy specialising in organisational communication and learning. Previously he worked in a range of delivery and management roles in HR and Learning & Development before becoming Learning Technology Manager at B&Q where he led a number of award-winning elearning and blended learning programmes.

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