The year 2013 will see more companies embrace mobile applications, a wider uptake in mobile learning among the general public, and shifts in what kinds of content and how that content will be delivered to mobile devices.
So says our crystal ball, at least.
As we do every January, we gathered several of our mobile learning experts together to get a better sense of what the coming year will look like for mobile learning and the mobile industry as a whole. This panel includes Chad Udell, Float’s managing director and author of Learning Everywhere; Scott McCormick, vice president of development; Jim Ferolo, vice president of marketing; and Gary Woodill, senior analyst.
Scott McCormick thinks that more and more companies will include a new budget line item labeled “Mobile Applications.” No longer seen as the quirky cousin of eLearning, mobile learning will come into its own in enterprise learning strategies and blended learning approaches. The “cool factor” of mobile will take a backseat to the fact that it is a viable and necessary method of helping employees do their jobs better.
In addition to employees, Jim Ferolo says businesses will begin creating more robust learning channels for consumers that are seeking real information and communities centered around the things they buy and use on a daily basis.
Jim continues, that as a result, older demographics will become key users of mobile learning in the public space as performance support and on-demand learning tools become more widely available in the public area.
One possible way for older demographics to take part in mobile learning is MOOCs or massive online open courses. Though our experts are divided on whether MOOCs will get over, it’s certain they will be a part of the conversation in 2013.
“We will see greater integration of mobile learning and MOOCs and a formalization of the delivery mechanisms for these types of large online learning environments,” says Jim in his final prediction for 2013.
Scott, however, disagrees.
“The MOOC frenzy will be looked upon with skepticism by big business and not catch fire,” he says. “Although seeing growth in the education arena, companies will be very hesitant to make much of their information available outside of their own enterprise audience. Creative business instances may emerge but don’t expect a 2013 groundswell of MOOC adoption.”
Gary posits that mobile devices will increasingly become the faucet for drinking filtered information from the ocean of big data. Programs are being developed now to filter information from big data sources for predictive analysis (Serrano, Adenyo, Medio, Peay Mobile), sentiment analysis (Sentiment Metrics, Mobenzi, Adeven, Viralheat), and instant polling (Poll Everywhere, Pollroll, Polltogo, Mentimeter).
Quantified self-becomes “mainstream,” according to Chad. Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Ultra are all out and widely available. They haven’t, however, made into the mainstream consciousness. These cool life trackers are still very much an early-adopter tech-geek toy or novelty. One of these devices will emerge in 2013 as a real winner here. It may be a combination of pricing, integration with devices or software, or perhaps just a really slick marketing campaign, but one of these devices or a new one will become a “must have” accessory for fitness-minded individuals. Some opportunities for partnerships with healthcare payers or maybe weight loss programs could also help propel this type of personal gamification into everyday space.
Gary’s written quite a bit about mobile health, and he’s thinking that mobile health will shift from creating lots of data from sensors to more patient-centric apps based on a user-controlled inquiry to solve specific health problems. We saw lots of sensors at the mHealth Summit in 2011, but mHealth Summit 2012 was about patient control and customization of information based on their specific needs.
Companies that dive head-first into Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) will find out it is often BYOH (Build Your Own Headache – credit Scott for that zinger). As IT departments try to support a long list of mobile devices, and learners/employees want more explicit partitioning of a company and personal information on their mobile devices, enterprises will realize they do not see the cost savings that were projected and that the advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages as much as hoped.
Chad continues his long-running hope that a mobile learning development tool will be released that takes advantage of the affordances of mobile devices, whether it be through sensors, multitouch/gestural input, and so on. Many eLearning tool vendors say they support mobile learning output, but honestly, they mostly just mean they come with a channel to get the output onto a mobile device via HTML or maybe a set of mobile-optimized templates. Someone in 2013 will change that. If you are working on such a tool and looking for alpha testers, please contact us.
Speaking of uniquely mobile experiences, Gary believes responsive Web design will continue to be a major trend for 2013, moving into learning and mobile learning more specifically. There are already books out on responsive design and nice examples of working websites that shift the arrangement of information based on device form factors and capabilities.
Mobile learning design will drop its orientation to competency-based learning for a tasked-based performance support approach. Instructional designers will consult successful “design patterns” from case studies in developing their learning apps. There are new books out on learning design patterns (see links below) which will be applied to mobile learning in 2013. Sounds like a good place to go, Gary… Let’s help take it there.
- Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology
- Technology-Enhanced Learning: Design Patterns and Pattern Languages
- Mobile Design Pattern Gallery
Chad thinks it’s a no-brainer that the iPad will continue to be the best-selling tablet. Android will certainly continue to grow, and the tablet market as a whole is set to explode, but no single tablet will overtake the iPad regarding overall sales. The iPad Mini’s release has made it clear that Apple knew a gap in its product offering was providing far too much ground in the sales battle arena due to pricing and size/form factors. Other tablet makers such as Amazon and Samsung are coming on strong, but the iPad’s cache and easy enterprise-friendly distribution make this pretty tough to overcome. Windows tablets will be the big wildcard here, but until Microsoft’s enterprise distribution and provisioning strategy become crystallized, they will continue to lag in the medium- and large-business deployment.
Home sales of PCs (Mac or Windows) collapse. The days of using a basic family computing device in the kitchen or the den are numbered according to Chad. Tablets and smartphones offer the primary use cases (browsing, social media, email) that most people need already and are rapidly gaining in photos (iPhoto, Snapseed, Instagram) and other creative applications (GarageBand, Figure, Beatport, Scrapped, CraftStudio). Home office workers, mobile creative professionals or serious hobbyists, scientists, gamers and college students may end up being the only ones that need a true computer in their home. Bottom line: tablets will outsell home computers.
Finally, more iconic magazines will stop releasing a print version of their publication (most recently Sporting News; see also Newsweek and Spin) and go completely digital on online and mobile platforms. Scott prognosticates that enterprises will take note of the trend and begin to evaluate their print media assets and see if there are any that no longer need to be distributed on paper. It’s bad news for printers, but good news for trees everywhere.
Updates: RabbleBrowser, Sandbox, Float Mobile Learning Primer
Toward the end of December, a number of our mobile learning apps received updates.
Most notably, RabbleBrowser is now available in French, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. Support has been added for the new Dropbox API, and some bug fixes have been implemented. View RabbleBrowser 2.6 press release>>
Float Team Members Headed To ASTD TechKnowledge
The Float team is headed to San Jose, Calif., for TechKnowledge toward the end of January.
On Jan. 28-29, Chad Udell hosts the Mobile Learning Certificate workshop. Additionally, Chad will also be hosting two creation stations. “Creating Your First mLearning Prototype Using Web-Based Tools” takes place Wednesday, Jan. 30, from 2:45-4:15 p.m., and Friday, Feb. 1, from 8-9 a.m.
Chad will also be joined in booth 515 in the Expo hall Jan. 30-31 by Float’s vice president of development, Scott McCormick, and Adam Bockler.
You’ve Decided to Go Mobile… What’s Next?
Chad asks (and answers) this question in the cover article of the latest issue of InterBusiness Issues.
Choosing to adopt mobile in an organization can be daunting. Once you get past the initial decision, the cold, harsh reality of what you have set out to do starts to set in, and questions begin to arise. What now? How will I do this? Should I just convert my existing content, platforms or applications to mobile? Is that even possible? Who on my team can help? What exactly am I going to produce for these new devices? When will we know we are ready to launch? How will this impact my business?
The questions go on and on. While you may have answers to some of them, it’s rare that an organization has the ability to answer most, let alone all, at the outset of implementing a comprehensive mobile strategy. In order to begin answering these questions, it’s crucial that you first affirm your understanding of the many uses of mobile and what it can do for your organization.
After deciding on a mobile strategy, the next logical step is likely to strategize and implement a prototype. Chad discusses the value of a prototype in the cover issue of this month’s T+D Magazine. “The bottom line is that prototypes save time and money,” he writes. “Everyone can agree that that is a good thing.”