Mobile Education Is?

mobileTechThursday, by Steve Guengerich

Mobile education is cool. In April of this year, Disney executive producer Starr Long spoke coyly but confidently at AMD’s GameOn Texas! Conference about Disney’s mission to make “educational” games the coolest, best games. (Games, by the way, that run on AMD-powered tablets and laptops, one would hope.)

Mobile education is hot. Tuesday, mobile platform maker Knewton, announced a significant partnership with education publisher Pearson. Pearson also led a $33 million funding round for Knewton.  It will be interesting to see how other publishers, like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has had a significant regional presence in Austin over the years, will respond to Pearson’s moves.

Mobile education is controversial! Parents are conflicted. Kids are addicted. And administrators, as I could have predicted, are struggling with being nimble in an environment that is heavily influenced by politics, cultural norms, bureaucracy, inertia, competing stakeholders, etc. Just look at the dust-up this week from the UT Regent’s adoption of myEdu.

Mobile education is disruptive. Bob Metcalfe, who has quickly established himself as a center of gravity in the Austin tech scene, identified education as among the three big industries be disrupted by mobile, video, and embedded apps.

Mobile education is Austin. One look at all of the companies on the Austin Mobile Scene map – involved in mobile gaming, mobile learning and education, or contract mobile app development for others that are targeting education – is all it takes to know that the community has a strong capability in mobile education.

When confronted with the data, it’s clear that mobile education is an irreversible trend. More than two years ago, New York Times writer Steve Lohr reported an SRI-produced study that concluded “Online education beats the classroom.”

Here was the comment I left in the article’s ‘reader replies’ that has turned out to be the all-time, top referring page to my personal blog:

If you resonate with the study’s conclusions, then consider that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Imagine what we’ll begin to see when the generation that’s been “bathed in bits” begins building learning communities?

Imagine a mash-up of stumbleupon (randomizing), plus (rewards/incentives), plus websites only slightly tweaked to deliver the core content required by states’ NCLB-mandated standards. The most successful (digital) charter school in history.

And, to take it a step further, now layer in the ability to be the personality that you want to be while learning, but still retain a social element through your digital self.

What is mobile education?  Mobile education is the future.

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  1. Only saw 2 companies in ‘mobile education’ or learning on the aforementioned ‘Austin Mobile Scene’ map. What am I missing?

  2. Hey Matthew – thanks for the comment and you are right re: the map. What you are missing is what I think the map is missing as well, which is that it would use some arrows identifying secondary categories for several of the gaming companies and app developers whose work is educational, like famigo or gamesalad.

    It’s one of the limitations of producing a crowd-sourced wikimap. I urge you and other readers, if you are aware of other Austin companies or initiatives that are working in mobile education, to create a free account on mindmeister and add your updates to the mobile scene.