the mobile learning concoction

while doing some research on mobile learning, i was excited to find the m-learning consortium, a collaborative effort of educators and technology vendors to discover ways of enhancing learning with  mobile technology. unfortunately, i think they missed their mark by offering pdas to first year college students back in 2002, and athabasca university and university of toronto mississauga also did some testing in 2006 on college-aged students (pdf). today, first year college students are much more savvy with handheld devices, and are rarely without at least one or two devices anyway.

however, i can’t help but wonder what sort of opportunity there is for adult learning with mobile devices. with the successful launch of the iphone and ipod touch, and the fact that executives without blackberries seem to be a rare find, the market for m-learning for adults is surely coming into play, slowly but surely. just a few weeks ago jenna sweeney blogged about the slow birth of m-learning, suggesting that in order for m-learning to be effective, it must start with enterprise acceptance.

We must begin with enterprise acceptance, including executives and IT professionals willing to support a mobile infrastructure. These individuals have already seen the value of being “unplugged” as desktop computers have converted to laptops and notebook computers. Mobility has already become a focus for IT departments. Adoption of enterprise mobility is all about increasing workforce productivity – certainly not a hard sell.

companies such as toolbook, trainer1, and giunti labs have already successfully marketed m-learning in europe and the uk. in canada at least, the cost of data plans may be prohibitive to ensure the success of m-learning. a year ago thomas purves reported that international cost comparison to canadian data carriers looked like this:

i’d be interested to see an updated graph now that the iphone is on the canadian market. the combination of products available and carriers to offer the data packages alone isn’t the key to how successful m-learning for adult learning can be in canada, but also how the mobile web technology is adapted for the devices and who can be quick to market with architectually beautiful innovation. finding the balance within this concoction will be key.


6 Responses to “the mobile learning concoction”

  1. This is an interesting if not new view to the eLearming Market going mobile.

    We all knew that M learning was too early when we tried to deliver via the PDA, istill believe we may even be a little early now.

    The iPhone (being used to look at and reply to this blog) will change the way we do things. Many do not realise this is much more than a PDA but a full unix computer in the hand. When the App Market for iPhone settles down, we will see some great learning tools become available. We however need to shift our expectation of what eLearming is from a degree online to just in time, in your hand, always available informal learning delivered in very small sessions.

    We are working and experimenting with a push learning system to be released shortly, based on thecold addage of ‘tip of the day’.

    We will call it. ‘learning in the moment’

    Neil Lasher
    Managing Director Trainer1

  2. to prove a point that ‘m’ can still be limiting

    The typos in my response above were not intentional.

    But on the iPhone I had no way to scroll and correct them using your blog

    Although ‘m’ may be here, the technology can still frustrate. We do have some way to go


  3. @neil: thanks for your comments. i was careful to say that your company and the other companies listed have successfully marketed (not rolled out) m-learning in your respective countries.

    i think this is an exciting time to be a developer or vendor for m-learning, though, and i believe the iphone will make a greater impact on learning than anything else has in the last 10yrs. combine that with social networks, enhanced video, podcasts, etc, and we’re about to see something big. i love being aware of how this is all unfolding before me.

  4. I was really happy to find your blog this morning and would like to subscribe. I’m the Guide to Continuing Education at, a New York Times company. We have similar interests, and I’d love to link to you in an article I’m writing on gadgets for adult students.

    Do you have a website? Anything else I can help you promote?


  5. @deb, thanks for the offer to link to my article. link away!

    my company website is, and i do business consulting, event planning, communications, project management, and develop learning strategies.

  6. […] after much disdain that twitter has stopped outbound sms to canada, and with the rising costs of canadian data plans, and the general state of the economy, i’m wondering how the mobile industry will proceed and […]

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