Mobile Learning and the Edited Course

Forcing change in online and blended courses.

August 21, 2013

I've been spending lots of time thinking about mobile learning. Why am I so excited about designing online and blended learning environments around the phone? Isn't this yet another case where the technology is driving the approach to teaching and learning, exactly the opposite of what we all say we should be doing?

The number reason to be excited about mobile learning is that mobile learning will force us to edit our online and blended courses.

The lack of screen real estate will push us to think about what is really important in our classes.

The narrow window into the course that a mobile learning platform allows will challenge us to re-think how we design our classes.

The process of achieving mobile and web parity with our technology enabled courses will result in cleaner, sparer, and more elegant learning experiences.

We have been noodling around with browser based online and blended courses for a number of years now. The result is that we keep adding on to our courses. With the best of intentions we add on new activities, new tools, and new content. A blog here, a wiki there. Videos and discussions. Assessments and journals.  Learning objects and learning modules.

What we don't do very well is take things away. Our online and blended course have become simultaneously richer and less legible. We've traded density for flexibility, activity for reflection.

My hope is that we will take this mobile learning moment as an invitation to take a clean slate approach to our course design methodologies. To go back to fundamentals, and ask "what do we really want our students to learn?"

Mobile-first / mobile-centric course design is an opportunity. A chance to take all that we have learned about online and blended teaching and re-imagine how we can make more than incremental improvements.

What conditions will be necessary at your school to embrace this opportunity?

How can we effectively partner with the providers of mobile learning platforms to collaborate on new models of course design and teaching?


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