Education Analysts Have Predicted 7 of the Last 0 Mobile Revolutions

Just a note looking through the education predictions out. For as long as I can remember, every year has brought predictions of the mobile revolution that is going to tear through higher education. And they have been wrong every single time.

Now sure, if you expand the meaning of education to “All of human existence” you will find that mobile is having a huge impact on the way that we work and socialize, and yes, even how we learn about things. Just-in-time information assists us in accomplishing work tasks, and mobile networks make that easier. But we knew this in what, 1997?

You could also broaden “mobile” to include laptops, netbooks, and tablets with keyboards. But now what you are saying is that personal computers will have an impact on learning. That’s been true even longer. You could go even further and say, well people will be reading anywhere, and that will change things — a prediction that has been true since the 1450s.

The person who has got this most right over time is Roger Schank. I can’t find the article in eLearn magazine at the moment, but several years back his prediction, to the horror of many, was that mobile learning would go away. His point: real learning is not done on a train or in between innings at a baseball game. To make substantial progress at something, progress above and beyond what you get in day-to-day life, requires you to clear your mind and your calendar. It often requires a space where distraction is minimized. It requires scenarios that are too complex to be dealt with on a 3.5 inch screen.

Again, this is not to say that just-in-time support is not radically changing what our jobs are, and how we learn on the job. But mobile education? The mobile prediction failed last year as the world went MOOC-crazy, and it will fail this year as Son-of-MOOC hits the scene.

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