I was in a video conference today with the Chicagoland Learning Leaders, and out of my mouth came the following sentence (I’m paraphrasing):

"The m-Learning tsunami is coming."

I know where this phrasing came from. It came from a research report I wrote on e-learning a number of years ago. Here’s what I wrote back in 2002:

E-learning is churning the learning-and-performance field like a great tsunami hovering high above, a dark blue wave threatening everything that has come before. As those on the shore—trainers, instructional designers, performance consultants—run furiously in all directions, everybody wants to know:

1. Can this e-learning stuff work?
2. For what uses is e-learning most appropriate?
3. Will e-learning replace traditional learning approaches?
4. How can e-learning be designed to be effective?

Replace the "e" with an "m" and the same questions still apply.

The point I made today in the video conference was that m-learning is on its way, that its going to become its own force of nature and that we’re going to feel a lot of pressure to ride the wave.

Just like all learning technologies, we need to remember the fundamentals. Especially relevant:

  1. First determine the learning outcomes you hope for (ignoring the m-learning technology).
  2. Then determine the best way to reach those goals (considering m-learning as one of a hundred options).
  3. When implementing a new learning technology, rapidly develop some prototypes.
  4. Remember to base all your designs so that the learning intervention aligns with the human learning system. Utilize research-based instructional design.
  5. Test your rapid prototypes in a meaningful way (measure learners ability to make decision, measure changes in job performance, measure business results).
  6. Keep what works, rolling it out in a bigger way. Keep testing to see if the roll-out works as well.
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Yes, it’s obvious. The m-Learning Tsunami is coming.

  • The installed base of MP3 players is growing exponentially
  • Cell phones are becoming usable for learning
  • PDA’s and small Tablet PC’s are being deployed
  • m-Learning is one of the hottest conference sessions right now
  • Vendors are investing in R&D, and more vendors are focusing on m-Learning.

And yes, we’ll all be swept up in it. Many of us will drown. Some of us will have the ride of our lives.

Most of us will do best to remember the fundamentals.

m-Learning is a bunch of different tools. We have to learn when and how to use them—and when not to use them.

We need to pay attention to WHAT’S NEW, but remember WHAT’S TRUE.