Pitfalls in mobile learning #1: Intimacy

by Viv Cole on May 21, 2012

As new technologies emerge and then go mainstream, this provides L&D practitioners with new channels through which to connect with learners and enable them to improve performance. However on the way, some organisations will get in badly wrong. Step forward Havering Sixth Form College in Hornchurch. This Essex sixth form college has made into the papers for sending its A-level students “top revision tips” text messages. Click here for the full article.

I sympathise with the logic of the headmaster who wanted to encourage revision. On the other hand students slammed texts like “you can work and play but you need the correct balance” as “obvious” “distracting” and “annoying”. It’s easy to overlook that mobile as a channel is very intimate and the distinction between work and non-work usage/ content is very blurred. Aside from the issues around how to gain permission to contact learners via mobile, when you fall onto the wrong side of this balance with your content or way of communicating learners will react…noisily, emotionally and publicly. Only time (and exam results) will tell if despite the reaction, the texts genuinely improved results. Perhaps it being tested and evaluated on a control vs non-control group basis is way too much to ask…It’s this kind of evidence that helps L&D position itself as a trusted advisor rather than a meddlesome nanny.

If you ever doubt, how personal mobile is a channel ask yourself: “What’s the first thing that you touch when you wake up in the morning”?.

Clean answers on a postcard please…

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