From ADL Team Member… Kent Weeks: For mobile learning, E = mc2
I think Einstein would approve: Education for the 21st Century Learner is E = mc2
The Next Generation Learner
About ten years ago I finally purchased my very first mobile phone, not seeing the real necessity in owning such a device. At that time, I remember friends and colleagues would often discuss topics for which they had no answer and would say that they wished they could have instant access to all potential networks for the gathering of information. Wishful thinking back then!
Prior to working at ADL, I was developing and administering courses for the Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency (AFCESA) at Tyndall AFB. My colleagues and I would chat about how education could be improved. Naturally, the conversations would navigate towards sound instructional design but would sometimes migrate to future technologies such as virtual worlds, gaming and other environments.
In the last eight to nine years of being in the eLearning community I have witnessed advancements that are changing the future of Education in a dramatic fashion. It is my mobile device and my observations on the use of socially collaborative interactions which led me to write this blog post about the Next Generation Learner.
Combined effects of mobile and social networks
The next generation learner's access to education will be much different in the near future. Set class schedules will be replaced by educational resources provided by smartphones and other mobile platforms that will allow for anytime, anywhere access to information and make knowledge transfer instantaneous for the learner. For the first time ever, quarterly smartphone sales outpaced PC sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the 23 February 2012 article written by Matt Rouseff in the Business Insider. With the rise in the number of smartphones, and the tremendous increase in mobile capabilities, the world is being introduced to pedagogical uses that will enhance the learning experience for the next generation learner.
In addition, social networking, and the inherent collaboration among peers in relation to learning, further enables the potential for revolutionary changes in education. Social collaboration, through the advent of mobile technologies, allows maximizing learning potential. Whether in the workplace, at home, or within academia, these advances in mobile technology and social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype have allowed for increased emphasis on collaboration. Whether learning individually or in collaboration with others, the instantaneous access to information, peers, and mentors through mobile technology and through social media emphasizes the potential for technologies that can enhance all learning environments for the next generation learners. The Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL) is researching technologies and best practices for the next generation learner to obtain knowledge and have better application of what they have learned.
E = mc2
So why is E = mc2 the title of this blog and a metaphor for the future of eLearning? I believe the next generation learner will increasingly take advantage of the instantaneous access to educational resources provided by mobile technologies and will continue to increase the use of social media to enhance his or her education. If "E" represents Education, "m" represents mobile, and "c-squared" represents collaboration, then the potential magnitude of the impact on learning accessibility due to the exponential effect of social collaboration should be recognized.
Would you agree? If not, what do you see as the core set of tools and capabilities needed for the Next Generation Learner?