Mobile learning (mLearning) is rapidly gaining acceptance internationally for users in many contexts. Smartphone users expect that their device will deliver content anytime, anywhere on-demand. A culture shift is occurring where anecdotal, scheduling, and calculating knowledge is no longer carried as cognitive space since mobile devices are effectively and efficiently bearing that burden. Is this a bad thing? Similar to how a common computational calculator is not scene as detrimental to advancing scientific knowledge mobile devices are freeing their users to focus on developing creative synthesis of knowledge. However, like the calculator gained more functions and different screen sizes, mobile learning cannot afford to standby as technology becomes richer and users more savvy.
The mobile industry has continued to evolve seeing major changes and slowing down is not insight, the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices plus the increase of access equals the increase in user ability and expectations in working with more in-depth mobile delivery systems, like, HTML5 which offers an web interface that can be accessed from all smartphone platforms, which had been a hindrance with Adobe Flash (on 11.9.11 Adobe announced that they will not continue with the Flash for mobile). These variables create a perfect opportunity for a version 2.0 of static apps that will reach more audiences, with a richer experience, through more devices in a dynamic manner.
The goal of every professional development (PD) program is to increase the knowledge and skills of the participants to positively affect their productivity. Many times these sessions are mandatory and in lecture format. The motivation of the participants is often limited due to the perception of the training as a requirement to be fulfilled. The environments of these trainings therefore are not most conducive to effective and efficient participant growth. And with the cost cutting efforts worldwide, the demands on the teachers are increasing. This multiplicative event is creating an overworked, unprepared teaching workforce without the skill set to meet the needs of their increasingly diverse student population. Time is the greatest commodity of all, the days of fulfilling PD requirements without real applicability are going fast. PD as an institution must also look to make a major paradigm adjustment, teachers need the best possible information anytime, anywhere to create proper learning environments.
PD Paradigm Shift
Social networking allows people of common experiences to link up via recommendations, blogging, hashtags, and “google” searches. Mobile technology allows these relationships to be fostered anytime, anywhere leading to deep, rich relationships that can cultivate real professional growth. Shared experience, encouragement and support, with concrete examples are easily supported in Bandura’s Self-Efficacy research and Kuhn’s Social Exchange Theory. PD can and should occur in a readily accessible, in the moment, format that will promote teacher professional growth.