The principles of designing for mobile applications is not dissimilar to designing for e-learning. There can be a tendency to get caught up in the technology when designing for a new platform. However, we never forget that the sound theories of instructional design still apply.
Mobile and wireless technologies are not yet in widespread use in post-16 and higher education despite the almost ubiquitous ownership of mobile phones by learners. As a result, the practice evolving around the use of these technologies may still be described as ‘innovative’ and it is yet to be established whether the pedagogies emerging around them will differ from those now being established around e-learning in general. Mobile learning is also a term which can be applied to a range of devices; not just the smart phones with which the term is normally associated. It can also apply to tablet PCs, PDAs, USB storage devices and electronic voting systems.
The main challenge to mobile learning from a technical viewpoint (there are also challenges associated with the perception of the devices as for leisure or even as aspirational items) is the usability of the devices. The embedding of mobile technologies into mainstream practice can be affected by a lack of familiarity with the functions of the device, the instability of software, and difficulties in reformatting or creating resources to fit a small screen.
As learning professionals, we are fully aware of the organisation-wide and the design implications of the media and the challenges to implementation. So we can offer support in terms of selection of devices and the design of suitable content and applications for them.