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What can we learn from mLearnCon 2013?

This post was written by Imogen Casebourne and first appeared on the Epic blog on 25th June 2013.

mlearncon 2013Last week I headed off with some of my Epic USA colleagues for an interesting and busy three days at mLearnCon in San Jose. We met a lot of interesting people who dropped by our expo stand, caught some insightful and inspiring talks and got chatting to lots of people who dropped by our table at DemoFest.

I especially enjoyed the keynote on Wednesday afternoon given by Tamar Elkeles, CLO of Qualcomm, who were sponsoring DemoFest this year. Tamar was also voted CLO of the year in 2010.

As a key player in mobile technology more generally, it’s perhaps no surprise that Qualcomm’s learning and development team have embraced mobile learning as a key part of their learning and development offering. So much so, that as well as having a dedicated internal mobile development team and an internal app store, they sponsor mLearnCon and have set up a dedicated mobile learning site, which hosts master classes from industry experts, something that Epic has been proud to contribute to.

In her keynote, Tamar pointed out that mobile devices blur the distinction between life and learning and also that for young people coming into the workplace mobile devices and mobile learning will be seen as a matter of course, rather than an innovation.

I co-presented on the topic of recent eLearning Guild mobile research together with Patti Shank, Director of Research at the eLearning Guild, and Clarke Quinn (the Quinnovator!) a respected and innovative thinker who undertook the 2012 mobile learning research for the Guild. The topic of my part of the presentation was the recent 2013 eLearning Guild case study research into mobile learning which I undertook on behalf of the Guild. The 2013 research focused on case studies across a range of sectors and organisations that show mobile devices being used to deliver courses as well as performance support. If you haven’t already seen the Guild’s mobile research and you are a Guild member, this is free for you to read, click here to download it now.

Guild research seminar

In general, this year was perhaps notable in seeing a move away from a focus on how mobile learning might work in theory to more on what mobile learning actually looks like in practice. My second presentation showcased five mobile learning success stories – outlining five different strategies taken by Epic clients between 2008 and 2013 and was also well attended as were numerous other case study based talks.

If you’d like to know more about the presentations I’ve mentioned in this blog piece, the good news is that they were recorded, and will be available for Guild members on the website over the next weeks.

Mobile successes seminar

 The closing session was fun, taking the form of a panel game (also how ICELW closed last week, which is an interesting co-incidence!) with four contestants fielding a range of questions from the audience.

One of the questions focused on what we would all be talking about at mLearnCon 2014 and my favourite two responses were: more case studies that illustrate what success looks like, and Google Glasses which will be available to buy by 2014. A good balance between a very concrete focus on how to get started with effective mobile using today’s devices, as well as some forward thinking about what tomorrow’s mobile learning might look like.

With those time frames, we are unlikely to be seeing many successful Google Glass projects being showcased next year, but forward thinking organisations will be bound to have started wondering what tomorrow’s generation of devices will have to offer mobile learners.