Mobile platforms will become the dominant choice for delivering learning by the
year 2015. This projection is based upon trend data from many sources. Morgan Stanley Research pinned Q4 of 2010 as the “inflection point” where the number of shipments of smartphones and tablets combined to equal the total number of PCs shipped. By 2015, mobile devices will ship at five times the rate of total PCs, and it’s projected that in the 2nd quarter of 2013, we will have reached the projected “inflection point” where smartphones and tablets exceed the installed base of PCs.
But there are more “influencers” at work behind the mobile learning prediction. Land lines peaked in 2006 at 1.3 billion after 125 years, but mobile subscriptions passed that mark in 2002 and have continued to explode to reach nearly six billion globally. In fact, land lines have now slipped back to just under 1.2 billion.
Next is advertisingand its projected exponential growth. Mobile monetization has grown from $700 million to $19 billion dollars in the four-year period from 2008 to 2012, according to Gartner, eMarketer, and Strategy Analytics. Why is that important? Advertising spend follows the users and, in turn, fuels the proliferation of new and more innovative mobile devices.
Next on the influence scale is the re-imagination of how we can conduct learning and knowledge gathering when all of these new devices become available. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, stated in a letter to potential shareholders in May 2012, “We hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information.” That’s significant, because Facebook has trained nearly everyone on the planet in the use of its graphical interface, which continues to be the most downloaded app for mobile devices at the time of this writing.
At our 2011 ELCE show, we presented Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy. Sal basically moved the traditional classroom to an online, interactive, 24-7, anywhere, anytime flow of learning for anyone who wanted it. And now Codecademy and Coursera are doing the same at the college level. And even in traditional colleges, they’ve flipped the classrooms, so that students are viewing lecture materials in their dorms on mobile devices while using the classroom time for discussions.
Even mobile devices are changing. That change will impact how they are used for learning. First there were laptops and notebooks, and then cell phones matured into smartphones, and then tablets came on the scene. Sales rocketed. But if we step out of the smartphone and tablet paradigms, we see other possibilities. We introduced Bina48 at ELCE 2012. Bina48 is a social robot being trained to understand you as a learner, or companion, while remaining connected to the vast resources available in the Internet cloud.
Bruce Duncan, manager for the Bina48 project, shocked our audiences with the projection that a walking version of Bina48 will be available in electronic stores in five years for around $500. That’s about the same price as today’s top-end tablets — and we haven’t even begun to discuss the other mobile devices that could be in our apparel and wardrobe accessories, or worn as glasses.
Bing Gordon, Interactive Arts Hall-of-Famer and a Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB) partner, was quoted in a company briefing as saying that we are moving “from learning by listening to learning by doing … [and] education and learning will become as much fun as video games. We call it ‘full body learning.’” At ELCE 2013, we will introduce some of the early movers in this arena, from electronic toy makers to the venture capitalists that fund these endeavors.
In February 2012, we summarized the top 20 uses for mobile learning on our blog (http:// blogs.2elearning.com). They were categorized into eight different areas:
1. Learning modules
2. Performance support
3. Access to information, education and references
6. Innovative approaches
7. User-generated content
Then within those areas we showed the top 20 uses of mobile learning:
>> On-the-job support
>> Just-in-time learning
>> Manuals and references
>> Conferences and webinars
>> Augmented reality
>> Note-taking and data capture
>> Social networking and collaboration
>> Audio and video content
>> Audio and video capture
>> Real-time updates
>> Field guides
>> Certification and tests
>> Surveys and polls
>> Mentoring and coaching
>> Job aids
>> Location-specific content
So what remains now, is not whether mobile learning will continue to grow exponentially. Instead, we need to adapt our curriculum strategies to take advantage of these ubiquitous mobile technologies. Perhaps learning will move from a passive quest for knowledge, to a morning greeting by a technology enabled device that simply says, “And what would you like to learn today?”