Designing for learning

Rapid development of mobile devices: A learning design challenge

I’m scanning journal pieces on mobile learning at the moment, part of the inevitable literature review process for the last big piece of assessment in my Masters.

There’s a recurring theme in those papers, and it is this: the mobile devices market is evolving and developing at such a speed that it is difficult to develop a m-learning product. No sooner is one designed and pushed to market, that the device it has been designed for becomes yesterday’s news, replaced by a new, shinier thing.

This presents quite the challenge for the educational designer. How do you design mobile learning, if the devices themselves are evolving at such a rate that whatever you develop becomes dated within the product cycle period?

This has all sorts of implications:

  • What kind of learning products are possible within the incredibly short time frame of use (before it comes dated?’
  • What kind of design and development cycles, and how many, should be in place?
  • What kind of investment should organisations have in place if this is the case? Should organisations be prepared to have medium to long term investment for mobile learning?
  • Are we sure that mobile learning is the answer to whatever the learning problem is?

It’s a conundrum, made particularly confusing because I’ve been reading both industry and academic papers. I’m vacillating between the practical and the theoretical aspects of the field, pondering the pros and cons.

I haven’t come to a decision about any of the above. But in the process of trying to make sense of this aspect of the field, as I consider and either accept or discard each piece of information, I’m constructing my knowledge. Isn’t that a fine thing?

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