Each generation creates their own tools aside from their parents. 20 somethings have been using facebook and now others are catching up. Teens (of which I have two) are using mobile technology. My daughter was just lamenting that "Trackphone doesn't have any apps" (yes, she used apps which I am sure most 20 somethings don't use). "Can I get an itouch? They have cool apps." Did I mention that she is 13?
The media's new frenzy seems to be twitter. But many are overlooking the impact that mobile technology is having on our communication and access to information. One reason twitter is taking over is because the short messages are perfect for mobile phone access.
Ken Allen recently had a post about the impact of mobile technology on writing. Texting, in its various forms, is creeping into my student's papers. Will this mean that in the future writing conventions will include "i" and "u"? Perhaps. But the current state of truncated language in text messages do have a unique feature that will limit the extent of "texting language." Take a look at Ken's post. My initial observation is the "accented" language use. For example, my kids would never use "hiv." In fact, they would probably "translate" his title of "hiv u evr wundird wot it wiz lyk b4" as haf u evr 1Nderd wat it waz lIk B4." This leads to be believe texting will be more "regional" with some standard conventions internationally.
What does this mean for Elearning?
It would seem to me that the younger generation will use mobile technology as a means for not only communication but also learning and information sharing/gathering. However, it is likely this won't be in text form. Complex ideas will be difficult to convey in short textual spurts.
However, as my daughter pointed out, the new technology has powerful multi-media apps that will allow students to listen to lectures, watch video clips, and even post comments in a multi-media format (i.e. using a camera feature on the phone). It would appear that the current text based preference for communication among the younger generation will swing back to oral and visual communication for learning.
It is important that we begin to consider the ways we can integrate these new technologies into elearning, before it is too late. Michael Hanley has recognized this trend and posted a series of useful posts on using mobile technology for training. It is a good start. But we need to begin to recognize the importance of "place" of learning and how the portability of elearning technology will change access to education.