Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Different levels of "m"

Week 2 of mobiMOOC is underway - and there's been a ton of discussion during week 1! (much more than I expected actually).  It's amazing to me than mLearning has become synonymous (these days) with smartphones, apps on those smartphones and mobile data.  One doesn't have to go too far back in the research literature to find mLearning to be something that was based on regular phones, using regular SMS and MMS messages, and even voice communications!

In the shuffle in the developed world we seem to have lost that simplicity of just voice and SMS/MMS and we've gone with things that require expensive handsets and expensive data plans.  Even if you get a sort of cheap Android phone (certainly cheaper and an iPhone) you still have to pay for a data plan.  I don't know how data rates are in countries other than the US, but until recently (recent being 3 years of fewer) data on a phone cost a lot and you just didn't get that much of it!

I know it's tempting to go the App route, or mobile-web route, but what about lean mLearning? Back in the days computers had limited availability of things like RAM and hard drive space. This made developers THINK about how they would best implement their program so that they can get the most out of it on limited hardware.  I think that THIS is the mindset that designers of mLearning and designers of mLearning applications need to be in to NOT just think of those of us who are privileged in our position to be able to afford a smartphone and a data plan, but also those who have access to voice and SMS only.
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