According to Wikipedia, mobile learning – or m-learning – is a method to mainly support existing classroom trainings, e-learning or blended learning models. In most cases mobile learning is no “stand alone” knowledge transfer approach. One well established mobile learning concept seems to be very old: the book! It’s highly portable and enables the learner to read and learn almost everywhere and the book-user can easily decide when to learn what. But times have changed and the hardware as well. Today we are able to have access to a whole library of books on one single device and the whole Internet on top. Multimedia with video, audio, animations and pictures can smoothly be replayed by those devices as well.
But when talking about devices and mobile learning, what does this exactly mean? A modern laptop is a portable device and enables the owner to access a lot of content almost everywhere… but not while driving a car… or even riding a bicycle. When traveling by airplane, a tablet seems to be the better choice.
So first, we could distinguish between situations where we prefer to use portable devices with a large screen and keyboard and others where we only want to listen to audio. The figure below gives an overview on different types of devices supporting the learner in different situations at different places. This shall illustrate how diverse mobile learning really is. Here we only considered situations applying for our working situations at SAP. Therefore we asked a sample of SAP consultants and sales colleagues being representative for our most mobile user groups.
And mobile learning could be even more than only an appropriate learning solution in e special situation. It could support mainly two more scenarios:
1) Learning follows learner
The learner might want to be totally independent from learning in a predefined situation such as sitting at the desk in front of the computer and going through an e-learning. He might want to distribute the learning task over different situations in which learning time is available.
- Starting a learning at the desktop computer during work
- Resuming the same learning in the train while travelling home using a smart phone
- Resuming the same learning at home on a tablet
This means the learning would be offered in different situations on the appropriate devices.
In such a scenario, the time slots for being concentrated might be very different. So the content needs to be chunked up in short pieces, for example 3 minutes videos / animations and explanations with a quick self test at the end. This makes it easy to use short time slots and even being successful and to recap later is easy as well.
2) Supporting Blended Learning
The other scenario would integrate mobile learning in an overall blended learning concept.
Here different topics could be separated in short video-based chunks of knowledge as well.
In case the blended learning would include a learner community, mobile access to it makes it possible to ask questions from wherever the learner wants to ask and the answer is available instantly as well.
So – what is the nature of mobile learning? It provides more flexibility and freedom for the learner, makes important knowledge accessible anytime at any place and opens communication channels right into the community of other learners working on the same topics.
And last but not least, the learning experience a tablet device like the iPad can provide much more engaging and appealing learning applications.
If you are interested in the m-learning topic or have any specific question about SAP and m-learning – please feel invited to discuss this in the Has Mobile Learning a Potential for Transferring SAP Knowledge?.