Today was the last day of the conference. I have three more reports of sessions I attended and my personal wrap-up of the conference. I had some positive response on the mind maps, so I decided to stick with them.
As you can see Maslo is an open source authoring and publication platform for mLearning. It’s just version 1.0 and that shows. It is very very basic. What I like most about it that they deliver the code for an app that you can use to publish in an app store, really cool, although you still have to partially code it. What I don’t like is the fact that it is just for mobile. I do think mobile should be a part of your whole e-learning suite and you should not use a separate program for it. Interesting initiative though and one of the very few open source ones.
Again an open source tool, but on the other side of the range. Xpert is a very mature tool, developed over the past 5 years with substantial government funding. And that shows. They have really cool stuff in there. At the heart of the concept is reuse of content. All content is stored in forms (which I don’t really like) but the real problem is that you can reuse forms. They are smart so you can adapt them for a certain publication on a certain platform. But I see two problems with that. First it get’s very complicated to manage, but more importantly I believe you actually have to redesign for each publication and platform. Reuse of content is possible but not on the form level they have, it should be on the elements on the form (text, image, video). A simplified e-Learning course does not create a good PowerPoint or PDF for an instructor led training or a learning experience on a mobile device.
The intended speaker was not available (due to a car accident), so this was an improvised panel session. There were no eye openers in this session, but the topics that where covered gave a nice recap of the conference. I tried to capture all questions and answers.
My conclusion of the conference
There were over 800 attendees at the conference. Based on conversations I had I estimate that maybe 1/3 is now deploying mLearning, often in pilots. The claim that mLearning is happening right now might be a bit strong, I think it is about to happen.
People are aware that mLearning is not about porting old courses to smartphones. So they are really looking for a strategy and an overall structure. It is clear that smartphones and tablets can be used to present information in context and the most valuable applications will be for job aid/task aid/location aid. There is a similarity with online help, that offers context too, but very few have been able to integrate or connect online help and eLearning.
There is a clear difference between mLearning on tablets (can also be courses) and smart phones. Adding these devices with their very specific strengths and weaknesses make the learning landscape even more complex.
Effective use of mobile technology for learning requires a design of a ‘Learning landscape’ and an integration of learning, development and user support. You should know what you want to do and then pick the proper solution (or combination of solutions). Lack of this oversight is holding people back, more than technical issues. This means that mLearning (especially for smart phones) will be mostly pilots or ‘isolated’ projects. It will take a while before it will become a standard element of the learning and support strategy.
That was it. I will try to have some fun in San Jose this afternoon and will be returning home tomorrow.