August 18, 2009

Mobile and iPhone Learning? or Just iHype?

It sounds like elearning and training on mobile devices is gaining popularity every day. Is it really valuable? I can imaging certain circumstances where it would be nice to have portable training, but with the capability of today's graphics software, and the cost of large monitors and laptops so low, why restrict your learning to a device with a 2" screen?

Granted, my company has mobile training application... it is geared toward task-based training. It basically works by replacing a clipboard or other printed task list. You go out into the field and your supervisor verifies that you can perform certain actions or procedures. It can also take attendance for classroom training or meetings. Our device also has a barcode scanner which we use for a variety of things including equipment identification and maintenance routes. Those activities are then uploaded to an LMS and voila, electronic records for a bunch of things that used to be stored in a file cabinet somewhere.

Back to training though. I loosely consider our use of the device as "mobile training". I can't imaging watching safety training, such as confined space, MSHA Part 46, or paper machine operator training on a mobile screen. The training we produce uses 3D virtual environments and lots of animation to teach and describe the training material. I just can't imagine how an iPhone would be used effectively to deliver training. Why is the user not infront of a computer? or even a laptop? For less than $500, you can purchase a really nice laptop that can connect to any web-based LMS, it could even run an LMS. It could install a free desktop-based LMS (mini or personal LMS).

It just seems like there is no excuse for forcing learners to squint and strain to see micro-sized versions of real training. Am I wrong? I would love to hear from people who have great ideas on how a mobile device can be used for training. What problems are out there that an iPhone will really solve in the training world? Please comment or drop me an email and help me understand!

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