Last week, I promised I'd share a little about the conference I attended in Las Vegas, and as we find ourselves planted in the final week of the course, I thought now would be a perfect time. The conference, Fusion, was hosted by D2L, a Canadian-based learning management system provider whose history, mission statement, and philosophies rival that of a Silicon Valley company much more than a standard LMS organization. The university I work for uses D2L, and the more I build in it, the more I like it. Their goals are lofty, and they seem to spare no expense when it comes to research & development and training, and that alone is enough to make me want to support them. Considering they also rented out Omnia nightclub for us in Vegas, they also know how to throw one heck of a party.
I was fortunate enough to be a participant on two panels, and presenting at conferences is one of my favorite ways to build my network. I am also one of those people who refuses to miss a breakout session. Ok, I may have skipped one this time - I mean, when a company rents a club, you go. At every conference, a theme emerges, something that didn't necessarily take center stage, but seems to be dominating the breakout sessions and the coffee chats. At Fusion, it was mobile learning. Everyone, including my team, was talking about the necessity of placing learning, quite literally, in the palms of our hands.
Now, at this point, I feel like I should admit something. I love innovation, and once I'm given an idea, I can easily adopt a clear vision and make it come to life. I like to think creatively, and leading brainstorming sessions is something I consider a strength. However, I have absolutely no ability to predict, with any level of success, what the next big "thing" will be. Remember when texting was first made available? Yeah, I thought, no one will ever use this. Kindles? Who wants to read on a screen? So, needless to say, I'm not sure what the future or our hands will hold when it comes to mobile learning.
I see a lot of potential for AR and learning, and much of AR happens now with aid of our mobile devices. And when we consider the incredible possibilities of feedback and participation with Web 2.0, our mobile devices seem to be personalized learning hubs. I'd even argue that they are already where we do most of our informal learning.
At the conference, one of the big reveals was the new mobile platform that D2L has created, and it is beautiful. As far as design theory and UX, they've done everything right. But I'm still unsure as to what role mobile learning will have in the big picture of higher ed, or formal learning in general. What type of learning will take place? Will it still be supplemental? When we look at the 21st Century learner, where do we place mobile learning?