How will Mobile-publishing platforms disrupt the e-learning space in 2017?

By January 10, 2017Uncategorized

As we move into 2017, it will become crucial for educators and publishers to truly understand the end-user (students) as well as the content they consume, how they consume it and what medium they consume it on. The learning medium is mobile. The book (even in eBook form) has changed very little in over 500 years, while the ability to publish content has changed significantly. Today, information is more virtual than physical. We are networked to streams of data and learn in a nonlinear way. We’re connected to many sources and content exists in many forms. Media scholar, Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message.” He asserted that medium (technology) is an, “extension of ourselves” the way a hammer extends our arm and hand or how wheels extend our legs and feet. Language media (text, images, audio and video) extend our thoughts. The medium shapes how we perceive things and interact with the world. It started in the mid-1400s when the printing press displaced manuscripts. Within the first 50 years the mechanical press overran 1000 years of manuscript production. As book production soared, prices fell, individuals and institutions acquired more books, while scholars complained about information overload. Printed books standardized language, sped communication and expanded ideas. By 1840, books had become a worldwide phenomenon and the primary medium for written content. Books became the way we learned. In the 1900s paperback editions made books more affordable, while pocket sized versions created a smaller lighter product. They remained unchallenged as the primary medium for written content until the World Wide Web project appeared in 1991. The web’s use of HTML offered the ability for anyone to create and publish hypermedia content (text, images, audio and video) via the internet.  Through hyperlinking, authors could connect their ideas together. Throughout the years, the number of websites grew and search emerged as a critical resource to find, “things.” By 2006, there were 85 million websites servicing 1.1 billion users; The internet became the medium that changed how we learned.  Yet, even as a wellspring of content appeared, the World Wide Web/Internet had one problem, neither fit into a pocket, purse, backpack or briefcase like a book. It was primarily a desktop and laptop experience confined to a location with an internet connection. In 2007, the introduction of the multi-touch smartphone sparked the transition from desktop browsing to mobile browsing. Smartphones are portable pocket-sized computing devices with operating systems, internet connections, high resolution touch screens, sensors and cameras. Most importantly, these devices support applications that leverage their robust functionality.

What will be the key advances in Mobile-publishing platforms in 2017 and over the next decade?

Today there are 2.6 billion smartphone users globally. By 2020, that number will jump to 6.4 billion with 80% of internet traffic dominated by smartphones. The multifaceted capabilities of smartphones, coupled with unprecedented global adoption, provide a perfect opportunity to rethink book content. Now we can extend hypermedia into spatial-media. Alongside traditional media, spatial-media leverages time, location and proximity to deliver relevant content. The smartphone is the new learning medium where virtualized content supplants fixed content to engage the learner in a non-linear, multimodal and contextual manner. Virtual Publications stream spatial-media, with context aware services, to provide a multidimensional experience. These provide learners information based on context.  update in real-time, providing the learner the most current or expanded information. Virtual Publications are collaborative, enabling authors and learners to co-create outcomes. When and where we learn is of equal importance to what we learn. The learning medium is mobile and it’s delivering powerful messages to a new generation of learners.

*Originally posted on in “17 for ’17: Industry Experts on E-learning & EdTech Trends for 2017”

Maxwell Riggsbee

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