Though with the growing market penetration of mobile phones are stepping down from the category of luxury and are becoming more affordable, still there are many issues with using these for M-learning purpose. These issues are not only from the technical ground but also from the view of implementing the training content onto these small screens for effective learning.
Technically a mobile phone does not have a fixed characteristic. Just like variety of operating systems available , the screen dimension, the memory usage , the processing capability are the points which forces us to distinguish “mobile phone”, targeted carrier of learning, as a species with a very complex nomenclature. In addition to it the evolution of mobile phones has resulted into the 3 types: the dumb phone (feature phone), the PDA and the combination of these two in smart phone. So once you develop something for one device, may not render in the other. Though with the advent of Flash Lite technology, this issue is losing its hold, still the till this date the statistics does not permit a safe heaven for development of M-Learning that will be cross device friendly.
The second point is that when in a real world scenario we think of an elearning for any specific subject, it does seem to have a considerable volume. But this is not possible with a mobile learning content due to memory limitation. And this is what pushes the M-Learning Paradigm into picture. M-Learning is mobile in the sense that it is mobile in terms of space; it is mobile in different areas of life; it is mobile with respect of time. But does this paradigm has the component that fits any standard Instructional Design that we have been using for elearning ? For some reasons I would say that this is where M-Learning fails to thriving upon existing IDs. For instance take a case of displaying the contents. If we are breaking a typical elearning content into different units to be presented separately through mobile interface, the experience of long text content pages will need ,more scrolling , thereby discouraging the user to be engaged in learning. In another case you may want to create an M-Learning for some desktop application, so that your manager can gain from it on how to use this application while he is traveling (may be to a client location). But you know this is not possible cause, even if you have the technology like Captivate to create a simulation for small screen size, the actual application on which the M-Learning is to be based, has a wide screen fit for a desktop and therefore it won’t fit into your mobile screen. Does this mean that you need a totally different set of criteria prescribed for any M-Learning development, which may include the thumb rules like small screen applications are only eligible for simulated contents of M-Learning?
I will discuss this in my next posts. Meanwhile you can share your ideas here.