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iPad heralds new era of mobile learning

17th Jun 2010
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The launch of the iPad will come to be seen as a 'tipping point' for mobile learning, claims Skill-Pill's Richard Castle.

The recent launch of the Apple iPad has likely pushed the mobile learning market into a new phase of wide-scale acceptance and growth.

With the arrival of smartphones, mobile learning has been winning new converts, with professional training and development; business, sales and finance identified by US analyst Ambient Insight as being the top target markets for content.

Mobile learning takes advantage of portable devices to improve users' productivity by giving the user just enough information, at just the right time, anywhere they choose to work. The impact of the mobile device and its learning content depends on the user; or to be more precise, the user's task at hand and their frame of mind.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of user for mobile learning – the considered and the trigger user. The considered user will download and watch learning material on their regular commute for example, in the same way they would read a business book or listen to a motivational podcast. They actively contemplate the material and adopt a reflective frame of mind in order to take a close look at their job.
The trigger user responds to contextual situations that require the user to take action. Trigger users tend to be pressed for time - they check and send emails as they walk down the corridor in between meetings. The mobile device is both the symptom as well as the potential cure for this type of user.

For the considered user, mobile learning retrieves information from their semantic memory; within an organisation these 'know-what' memories might include policies on change, branding, leadership or innovation. Mobile devices can retrieve these core principles and values, which are very important for the worker, but can be neglected without the right stimulus. In this case mobile learning is best used as a refresher following a period of face-to-face training.

After a large chunk of training, your head is filled with information. A mobile device is a smart way of retrieving what you have learnt, especially close to the time when you need to apply it. Mobile learning can reinforce key learning points to help the user recall deep-level semantic memories.
For trigger users the mobile device can act as a retriever for procedural memory or 'know-how' skills. These processes and techniques are needed to drive business forward – what to do, what not to do, the attitudes and behaviours that are expected. Examples include skills such as running a creative meeting or how to induct an employee properly. They can also include more complex skills such as managing change and restructuring teams.

This change in how we can use mobile devices to access training on the go is no different to the rapid way organisations have shifted from hard-drive computing to Cloud Computing. We no longer need all the applications loaded on our hard drive. Instead we can use the mobile device to call down the content as and when we need it.
The mobile learning market has reached its tipping point with robust technology, services and delivery platforms. But the real driver to sustained growth is content. We need useful content available in accessible short bursts that are tailored to their purpose.
Mobile learning won't ever replace face-to-face training, but the technology and know-how exists to make it so much more effective.

About the author
Richard Castle works for Skill-Pill M-Learning which is releasing a MobileMBA for iPads and iPhones in association with Pearson at the end of this year. A longer version of this article first appeared on our sister site,


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By User deleted
17th Jun 2010 12:21

Great in theory but ...
Very dangerous in practice

Apple's draconian approach as to what can be run on their systems means that the version of history/learning presented may well be the only the one approved by Apple

We have all seen/heard the US version in films about the war etc. where Hollywood substitutes reality with fiction - so what is to stop Apple following suite - i.e. refusing to publish the fact that one of their far eastern factories has a high incidence of suicides amongst thir labourers

Especially as no-one else can get a look in with Apple apps unless approved by the company

All this is quite apart from the real agenda of Apple with the likes of iPad. Yes selling the hardware is primary but influencing the user on a whole range of subjects is a very close second; even to the extent that it could be regarded as the primary goal with iPad sales purely the enabler

So the real question is:

Do you want the vulnerable elements of society to be subject to the influence of any corporate let alone one that has already demonstrated censorship with its applications

Welcome to AppleWorld your approved history/learning provider!

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