Is Mobile Learning the Next Big Thing in Education Technology?

Over one billion people around the world now carry in their pocket a powerful and completely mobile computer. This could present a tremendous opportunity for educators and innovators, especially those who are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and think outside the box.

Smartphones today are more capable than the most powerful consumer desktop less than a decade ago. They are powerful tools, and Brandon Hall writes at Chief Learning Officer that those interested in making a splash in education need to realize this and take steps to utilize the power of mobile technology right now.

Based on the data, Hall argues that it's impossible to deny that mobile is the future of computing in this world in general — and education in particular. Delaying action and not putting in the time and resources to developing education tools for the mobile platform means risking being left behind to peck at the crumbs dropped by true innovators.

If you are hesitating now with mobile, in wait-and-see mode or too busy with today's demands, then it is time to take deliberate action and get started. Assign your team to research the tools and find examples. Study what works, brainstorm uses and run a demo. Once you live with the possibilities for a while, you will see the significant business opportunity to develop your strategy and become a hero.

A number of companies have already taken the plunge and are internalizing the idea that mobile will not be about learning per-se, but about about delivering personalized and instantaneous support to educators and students alike. To see how far the pioneers have already taken the idea and how effectively they have put mobile technology to use, it's best to look at examples outside of the education technology sector.

Sonic – of the roller-skating waitresses and ubiquitous commercials – recently deployed a mobile learning app for their store managers. Sonic restaurants rotate their menu on a monthly basis, which means crew members undergo training continuously. While most of the training is done on PCs, for on-the-spot solutions to problems that creep up here and there, the mobile app is invaluable. It allows managers to look up information specific to a problem, review steps with crew members and even look at videos right then and there.

Lowe's: The most common question in a hardware store is "Where can I find …?" Lowe's is providing retail associates with iPhones at 1,700 stores for instant access to location information, product details and communications to better serve customers. Those customers can create a MyLowe's account at home, add improvement plans, make shopping lists and keep track of last year's paint color. In the store, Wi-Fi allows customers to access it on their mobile.

From school and classroom management to individualized student learning, the potential for mobile technology in education appears to be promising.

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