Over the last four years, the frequency at which clients have asked Innovative Learning Group to design and develop mobile learning solutions has steadily increased; it's clear to us that mobile learning is here to stay. We've seen a wide variety of approaches to mobile learning and noticed some critical elements to consider at the outset.
The first element is clarifying whether or not mobile is an appropriate solution for your learning or performance need. While I'm not focusing on this in today's blog, there's information available to help you make that decision in Part 3: The Mobile Choice of our Mobile Line Series: Mobile or Not... Here it Comes! as well as via our mLearning Decision Maker app.
What I'm going to focus on today is another critical element — clearly defining what is meant by the term "mobile learning devices" with respect to a specific project. It's easy to assume that mobile learning device means JUST smartphones or tablets running iOS or Android operating systems. But that's not always the case. Let's take a look at other devices and operating systems that are on the horizon since all of these could be used for learning solutions.
Windows 8 Tablets — The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has received mixed reviews. Some of the most frequent complaints are related to overall cost, or the fact that the keyboard isn't included in the base cost. However, for people who are already comfortable using
Windows 8 on a laptop, there can be a real advantage to having the same platform available in a form that can be used as both a laptop and a tablet. One of our project managers recently had her "standard" laptop replaced with this tablet and can't rave about it enough: "I love, love, love the Surface Pro 3! It's so light, easy, and very comfortable to travel with and use."
My own observations with these tablets are:
- It's a big advantage to be able to run things developed in Flash without having to convert them to another format.
- Being able to connect a mouse and/or a stylus provides a lot of advantages when doing serious document editing.
- It's nice to be able to use the standard version of Microsoft Office for Windows on this tablet.
Smart Watches — I've been using a Pebble Smart Watch for approximately two months now and am really enjoying some of its features. I've posted more details about my experiences with my Pebble on the Future of Wearables. But the Pebble isn't the only smart watch available. You can read reviews of other smart watch options at SmartWatchNews.org.
Google Glass — I attended a very good session on Google Glass conducted by David Kelly at mLearnCon 2014 (#mLearnCon2014). The items he covered in the session are listed here. If you aren't a member of The eLearning Guild (@eLearningGuild), you can learn about some of these things yourself at the Google Glass website by making choices from the top menu.
Tizen — Not everyone is ready to concede that the operating systems for future mobile devices have already been decided. Tizen is an operating system based on Linux that aims to offer a consistent user experience across devices. You can learn more at the Wikipedia article on Tizen or at www.tizen.org.
Of course, there are many other mobile developments in progress and coming in the near future. You may be wondering why it's worth considering using these for mobile learning when we haven't yet taken full advantage of what traditional tablets and smartphones have to offer. The key takeaway is that each platform has its own set of pros and cons, and that the optimal solution for your learning and performance needs might include more than just traditional tablets and smartphones.