Tuesday, June 24, 2014

M-learning is about empathy

I believe that the most valuable experience for any learning professional is watching how people learn. Conferences are the best places for these observations. Just a bit of attention and you can see when everyone is engaged, what makes them bored, when they are writing and what questions are answered or ignored. A day at mLearnCon gave me one more portion of proof of concept for active learning - when people are not engaged enough in the process they get bored and they get lost. No, I don't want to say that the conference was boring, not at all. Just some moments, some speakers, some long talks show this even brighter than we can picture. And we can once again see the real  evidence of how engagement matters.

When talking about mobile learning engagement becomes crucial. From what we were talking about today I can see two types of m-learning:
- courses and apps for learning that are designed to work on tablets and are still e-learning in their core;
- supports systems that work for immediate learning needs.

In the first type the engagement is crucial - even for a second we can't think that learner will hold that rich and very engaging device in her hands just to see another TT-course (text+test). If we look at people using their tablets or smartphones we see - they all are in the process of active interaction with it. They swipe and tap and turn and more. Maybe the only passive activity is reading. But lets' put the reading aside - this is a separate story with strongly developed habits. Now when we want people to learn on their mobile devices we have to engage them. And not occasionally. They have to type, tap, swipe and more.

M-learning will have its' own instructional design. We are witnessing the birth of it now. It will be a lot a like good e-learning ID but will be even more activity focused. And at the same time for second type of m-learning, for support systems, we may less talk about the context inside the learning but about context outside of it. We will have to go even more deeply into every usecase of the solution we develop to get it right for learners needs.

M-learning is about the learner deciding to learn. Compared to e-learning it is even more dependent on internal motivation and on personal desire to get new knowledge. So we will have to know more about our learners and do more needs assessment and understand the moment of need for learning. Everything we do in ID process now has to be done more deeply.

All of what we will do in m-learning is even more about people. Knowing what they do, what problems they have, how they feel and when. So I feel that m-leaning is about empathy. To do a good m-learning empathy is the most necessary skill we have to develop.

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