It’s been almost a year since we made available our new on-demand mobile learning native application for iPad and Android tablets on the AppStore and Google Play. It’s called NetDimensions Talent Slate and I think it provides a fresh an innovative approach to how our clients are approaching mobile learning. Of course, the market will tell us at the end if we have been right or not.
What I can say though is that for some time now we have been thinking very hard about what mobile means to learning, employee enablement, and talent development. And allow me to concentrate on tablets here. Because with the advent of the iPad, never before have we experienced a single device on which we can check email, browse the internet, deliver a presentation, do our expense report, read a book, listen to music, watch a movie, play a game, place a video call, and share with our kids. All on the same device.
So, although some describe mobile learning as yet another “channel” or another “modality” of learning, I disagree. I think mobile learning is a paradigm shift, similar to what e-learning was for classroom training. And tablets are the forefront of this paradigm shift.
Nevertheless, most of the early efforts we have been witnessing in mobile learning were all about trying to get e-learning to work on mobile devices. Hence the prevailing question: “how can I get my flash courses to run on the iPad?” I argue that this is not even the right question to ask now, is it? If mobile learning is a paradigm shift, it requires a new wave of innovation for designing, delivering, and tracking learning.
Some of the things we have been working on (and we are still working on) when it comes to our approach on innovating on tablets are:
- Cruising – navigating on a tablet is not the same as navigating on a PC or a laptop. NetDimensions Talent Slate features an intuitive navigation concept based on federated search.
- Context – context in learning has always been important, but never so much as in mobile learning. My job role and task at hand, my geo location, who (and what) is around me, what I have been doing, the type of device I am using, all provide context that can be extremely relevant to my learning experience.
- Connectivity – can it be taken for granted? Is connectivity really ubiquitous globally? We have made NetDimensions Talent Slate operate both online and offline with smart synchronization logic when internet connectivity is available.
- Collaboration – a mobile device is used to communicate, so there is the expectation that the application will allow me to locate and connect to other users, share own-generated content, and contribute to the overall knowledge base.
- Co-operation – the ability to easily integrate and play well with other systems in the mobile ecosystem is now an even more obvious requirement. Interfaces like the TinCan API will help systems & content speak to each other so that organizations can collect all the learning experiences of their users from across multiple systems into one place.
- Content – This will require a different instructional design approach, more tailored to the mobile user and taking better advantage of the unique affordances a mobile device like a tablet offers to users. If we can’t get interactivity or personalized content nuggets on a tablet, where else will we get it?
We have a long way to go still, but now is the time of innovation in the industry, innovation both from technology and content providers and from organizations deploying mobile learning solutions.
And in closing, here’s a product briefing report from the Brandon Hall Group about NetDimensions Talent Slate.