Dear Presidents, Provosts, CIOs, and Directors:
Are you giving your learning and technology teams goals that are big and audacious enough for 2015?
Have you committed to lead rather than follow?
To be out-in-front of the next wave of higher education, rather than jumping on whatever bandwagon happens to roll by next?
A good place to start with a big goal might be mobile learning.
What would happen if you decreed (or maybe strongly suggested - we don't really decree in higher ed), that by 2015 that mobile will be the primary platform that our students will interact with digital curriculum and learning platforms.
That every student will have a tablet or smart phone, and that not everyone will own (or be expected to have access) to a laptop.
That parity will be required between mobile and browser based platforms. That every learning technology, library database, and curricular piece of content will need to be equally accessible and usable from a tablet or smart phone as it is from a computer and a browser.
What would be the advantages of making this "mobile first" edict?
1. Mobile Education Is Coming: Spend some time with Mary Meeker's 2013 Internet Trends Report and one trend that jumps out is the rapid accession of the mobile web. Meeker describes the trends in mobile as "aggressive momentum". Everything from search to shopping to music to games to news is moving quickly from the computer and browser to the smart phone and tablet. Education services through the laptop and browser may not disappear, but they will certainly be complemented by mobile.
2. The Need to Prepare Today for Tomorrow: Ben Franklin once said that "“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” If we wait to prepare for a future where our students expect the same mobile access for their education materials and platforms as they get for their banking, news, gaming, and entertainment platforms then we will not be ready when that future arrives.
3. A BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) Motivates Teams: We need goals that take us out of our day-to-day work of spending all of our energy making our existing services work. Yes, we need to keep our high service levels - but we also need to find the cycles to prepare for what's next. A decree about mobile learning from leadership gives us permission to look beyond the problems that are directly in front of our face. We can feel empowered to experiment, try new things, and learn by failing.
How would you respond to a "mobile first" challenge from your leadership?
What would you do differently if you knew that the primary screen that your students interacted with your e-learning platforms and content was going to be a smart phone or tablet by 2015?