Friday, 17 February 2012

Lessons from Thomas Edison and mLearning

Last week we discussed Failure and the 5 Big Questions for mLearning. This week I’ll focus on lessons learned from failure. It is through our own experience and how embrace change can have the courage to innovate.

To truly appreciate innovation; we need to study Thomas Edison, a master of transforming ideas into modern day marvels. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t invent the light bulb, but rather improved upon an idea. Mr. Edison was methodical and persistent in his approach to get it right – but the key to his success was his ability to adjust and be nimble. In his seven steps of development he carefully documented his findings. (from inventors.about)
  1. the parallel circuit
  2. a durable light bulb
  3. an improved dynamo
  4. the underground conductor network
  5. the devices for maintaining constant voltage
  6. safety fuses and insulating materials
  7. light sockets with on-off switches.
As an eternal optimist, here are a few quotes that capture the spirit of Edison's lessons learned......
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work
I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun
I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work
If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves
Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless
In mobility, we can easily get caught up in designing a mobile application that has all the bells and whistles, funky UI (user interface) and might even provide some back end integration. (SIS & LIB) In my experience, projects fail if we don’t think about user feedback, be willing to embrace change and be nimble and iterative in our approach. Adjustments made throughout planning, development; testing and feedback loop can greatly improve your overall goals and objectives.
At the front lines of our education system – going mobile has some challenges & opportunities:
Cost of devices / tablets?
·        There are several choices and form factors to select from – while iPad is one option – RIM, Motorola and Microsoft provide alternative platform options at attractive price points
·        The cost of the average textbook is 3x greater than a software application – as adoption grows for electronic books and smart education applications this will have a significant impact on spend and ROI
How do you address security, theft and software updates?
·        Mobile device management (MDM) and software application management centralize management of devices and tablets
·        Companies like Sybase, Mobile Iron and Motorola provide out of the box experience to simplify the headache of tracking and updating units in the field – even if they bring their own device (BYOD) to the institution
What is the learning curve for parents and teachers that have minimal experience to technology?
·        There has been a dramatic shift in how mobile applications are designed to be easy to use, intuitive to find information and in some cases applying the principles of gaming to provide a unique end user experience (earn badges – rewards – etc.)
Most recently, The White House (Office of Management and Budget) provides some insight into the mobile opportunity. Aside from cost savings, increased productivity – we need to have a hard look into engagement and how this impacts lifelong learning.

What are you doing to promote mobile education at your institution?
What are some of the challenge you face as an educator / end user?
Is cost a barrier to enter to consider using mobile in the classroom?
Are you exploring / developing a mobile application for the betterment of education?
Do you have a process or idea that revolutionize mLearning? (mobile education) but don't have the resources or time to engage?
We need more inventors like Thomas Edison's
Next week I have the unique opportunity to take part in a mobile development challenge within our local community. As a guest speaker I will be sharing some of the challenges and lessons learned throughout my career with local technology superstars of the future. Perhaps the next Edison, Jobs, Bell, or Lazaridis is working on the next big thing!

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