Why Should Mobile Learning Be on Your Mind?

May 1, 2012

I read the article Here’s Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years”  and, coupled with some research on mobile video I’m doing, paused because I suddenly felt like I was missing something. It was one of those “wait – what?” moments that I sometimes get as an analyst because you know, I have to know this stuff.

Anyway, the author of the article, Eric Jackson, shares two schools of thought – first, the outsized influence management teams have on organizational outcomes and second, the idea that managers don’t really matter all that much because organizational outcomes have more to do with industry effects. He admits to not thinking much of the latter (which comes from organizational ecology research) until recently. He believes that…

“More and more in tech, it seems that your long-term viability as a company is dependent on when you were born.”

In the tech world, Jackson identifies 3 generations: Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and Mobile and suggests that prior generations of organizations can’t quite see the subtle changes between generations. He goes on to say that social companies born since 2010 (i.e. Instagram), view mobile as the primary (often exclusive) platform for their application.

[Those companies born since 2010] “don’t even think of launching via a web site.  They assume, over time, people will use their mobile applications almost entirely instead of websites.”

There’s an interesting tidbit in the article that comes from Tim Cook (CEO, Apple) about the speed of change…

“…through the last quarter [Q2 2012], I should say, which is just 2 years after we shipped the initial iPad, we’ve sold 67 million. And to put that in some context, it took us 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years for that many iPods and over 3 years for that many iPhones.”

We don’t know the reason(s) why Facebook bought Instagram (born after 2010) for $1 Billion. Plenty of folks have opinions about it. Perhaps it’s because Instagram’s mobile  app doesn’t blow. Perhaps it’s Facebook’s mobile strategy in action. That’s my take FWIW.

What does this mean for L&D? We  have e-Learning 1.0 and e-Learning 2.0 and now have mobile learning -but are we just taking the 1.0 and 2.0 elements and putting them in mobile form? It seems we have to make sure our mobile learning can stand alone…you know, not totally blow.

(NOTE TO SELF: Change  personal website name  to Flushing the Social Web)

  • Pingback: Why Should Mobile Learning Be on Your Mind? — Janet Clarey via @Quinnovator « juandon. Innovación y conocimiento()

  • Gary Woodill

    Hi Janet,

    I think that mobile learning is a fundamental shift, with at least three differences from e-learning or classroom learning. One is that it puts us back into real world contexts – both classrooms and e-learning put you in front of an expert or presentation, out of context for what you are supposedly learning. They immobilize you. In many ways, mobile is a liberating technology. It certainly shifts power – as a response to surveillance, mobile introduces the possibility of “sousveillance” and instant organizing of purposeful swarms.

    Second, always on connectivity means that you can supplement or augment the experience of being in the real world again with information readily at hand. Learning is changing from being “competency based” to being “task based” – just-in-time information is delivered to us for the task at hand, rather than being learned “just in case” we might need it.

    Third, mobile delivers the possibility of real emotional connections to other people – even a sense of community. That is why it is so hard to get people to turn off their phone or leave it at home – they then feel disconnected, a condition that has been dubed “nomophobia”. The British Post Office even did a study on it, so it must be real.

    These and other effects mean that mobile is already having an immense impact on organizations – one writer, Michael Malone, in The Future Arrived Yesterday, talks about the “protean corporation”. I know from my own experience that my work is now taking place in a bird’s nest like network of supportive and supporting relationships with only ad hoc structures. My organizational chart is now improvised and revised for each new gig. I think that this is the way of the future for those who are willing and able to be agile and keep running.



  • Amit Garg

    Thanks for sharing this
    I believe the future of workplace learning is Mobile. It would probably mask itself as performance support more often.
    Best, Amit

  • http://janetclarey.com/ jclarey

    Always nice to get a thoughtful reply from a mobile learning thought leader. I couldn’t agree more with the need to be agile. And thanks for the new words… “sousveillance”and “nomophobia.”.

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  • Darryl Prinz

    You don’t have to worry about creating a mobile learning for your 1.0 and 2.0 e-Learning. I’m sure a lot of people still prefer a human professor that will teach them. But, you can still create one for those people who wants to experience an “agile learning”, just in case some people would look for it.

    Darryl Prinz

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