Wednesday, June 23, 2010

micro-mobile vs. macro-mobile: mLearning Impacting Your eLearning Design

I was just responding to a comment on LinkedIn and I used the term micro and macro to describe my personal use-case for digital mobility...connectedness.  I have a MacBookPro, an iPad, and an iPhone.  Most likely many of your learners are not in this situation, but it feels like our digital lives are heading in this direction more and more.  With the iPad in hand, I can now very easily define my mobility as within my house - micro, and within the world - macro.

The Main Machine - Desktops and Laptops
I use my laptop more like a desktop these days.  Basically, it sits on my desk all day.  So, I'm actually thinking about going back to an iMac because you get more bang for your buck.  The only time I find myself truly NEEDING my laptop is when I give an event, or corporate presentation.  I like having a "clicker" in my hand and so swiping through my presentation on my iPad is just not an option for me.  Everything else revolves around this main machine and in regards to this blog post the distance from this machine.

Micro-mobility - iPads and Tablet PCs
Since I work out of my home, micro-mobility is easily define within my house.  But more generically, I would define it as within walking distance of your main computer.  The iPad, or any new tablet, fits nicely into this mobile space.  It turns on quickly.  You can pick it up and go.  This micro-mobility is great for times when your job calls for lots of reading.  You don't want to do it at your desk and so you grab the iPad and move to a comfy chair near better natural lighting...for example.

Macro-mobility - Smartphones, and other small devices
Some may not like this use of micro and macro because I'm not using it to refer to the size of the device.  They would be right, I'm not.  I'm always thinking about the learner.  The smaller the device the more likely it is to be used for MACRO-mobility: long distances away from the main machine.  Since my iPhone fits nicely in my pocket, I know I have all I need when I leave the house.  If I plan ahead and know that I will be sitting for a long period of time or I'm meeting a business colleague then the iPad comes along for the ride...just in case.  But honestly, taking the iPad anywhere is still very counterproductive since I ALWAYS get asked by strangers how I like it.

So, are we thinking about micro v. macro mobility when we talk about designing mLearning?  Despite the shiny newness of mobile devices we are still needing to design with the LEARNER in mind first, device second.  This is where e-Learning development needs to catch up.  We need to be considering the learning environment as existing on a main machine, accessible from the web(any machine), and accessible on a mobile device.  And NO, that does not mean that you create ONE eLearning course and demand that it plays exactly the same way on an iMac, an iPad, and an iPhone.  It means that as designers we MUST start designing experiences around content that are uniquely created for each CONTEXT.  Its time to start being creative and re-thinking our design options.

 DevLearn 2010 Conference and Expo - November - San Francisco, CA
Post a Comment