How the iPad and other tablets will impact learning and performance


At January’s CES show in Las Vegas, over 100 new tablets were unveiled and there has been plenty of fuss for a while about how the iPad is going to change learning.


But I believe that the touch screen probably represents a more important change in elearning. It’s going to alter a number of things – not least how we design elearning. I’ve posted up a blog entry recently about this and would appreciate your thoughts on this issue.




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Hi Armen,


Interesting topic.  One the one hand I believe iPad's and their ilk will change the game, as they become more and more ubiquitous.  They also offer an opportunity to create a different learning experience.  On the other hand, if all we, as learning and development people, do is continue to convert PowerPoints to "eLearning" then it's doomed to, well, not quite failure per se, but maybe failure to meet it's fullest potential.


Andy Jones

Interesting post Armen. We've recently published a series of videos in which Donald H Taylor touches on the role that mobile technology as a whole will have to play in the next 10 years, as well as what else we need to do in order to support fast changing business practice in the future.

And, as with all these things (and Andy I'm completely in agreement with you) we should be using technology to support learning and good business practice not simply using it half heartedly because we can.

If the iPad is going to engage with learners on another level then I think we need to look outside Learning and Development and see how other Apps are using traditional learning techniques successfully - even be it for fun. For example look at the Angry Birds App phenomenon - it uses traditional cognitive behavior to encourage users to better their scores, something which seems to work particularly well, and in an almost addictive way amongst iPad and iPhone users.

There's an interesting post about this here: Why Angry Birds is so successful and popular: a cognitive teardown ...


Hi Armen:


This is interesting, because we know that Apple has an adversion to Flash products.  That said, from a development perspecive, it is difficult to build dynamic/interactive courses that are compatible with these mobile products. 


HTML 5, vs Flash, is another option but does not produce the same results.


Have others experienced this issue?

Thank you people,

These are insightful observations.

Andy you are right converting “power point” presentations to e-learning does not exactly help the learning process.. Engagement, as Samantha points out, is key. I am not sure that we need to equate TOUCH SCREEN with TABLETS only. This technology is already spilling into lap tops and will soon become the norm rather than the exception. I am convinced that TOUCH SCREEN opens the opportunity to feel, move, tap, peel, and manipulate content with our hands on a computer screen. How can we leverage this natural state to create engaging content?   Perhaps, the big attraction of the angry bird is in pulling the sling shot with your finger. J

Love to hear from you


Hi Armen,


There's massive hype surrounding tablet devices right now, just as there was around mobile learning a few years before, and laptops before that, and PC's before that, and CD's before that and laser discs . . . well I guess you know where I'm going here.


There's no doubt that the ability to "touch" the content will assist in certain areas; that the portability of the device is excellent and that to have "Learning Apps" in the future will be really great.


But here's the rub; will it actually make us better?  Will it make our companies more successful?  Will it deliver results?


We've been here so many times before (see opening words); we've been told the promised land is upon us and we've been told that the new technology will change the landscape.  Sure there are changes, but I'm not convinced that I've seen the step-change in performance and results that everyone seems to be offering.


If we focus on the results then the technology doesn't matter.  Leading with technology as a "saviour" takes us towards a state of techno-paralysis where we believe that because we have new technology we cannot fail.  This is a dangerous place to be and a place we should avoid at all costs.


Use technology by all means but know the results you are trying to achieve rather than the technology you are trying to covet.



Hi Armen,

I could not agree more with Mr. Kettleborough. The results must drive the training. Will touch technology help them practice what they do on the job?

I am interested to see if in designing simulations and games, this might do something to engage our tactile learners. Visual and audio/verbal learners are engaged in "traditional" teaching environments (save for those unfortunate ones who still receive death by Powerpoint), but tactile learners really are the ones who miss out. I'll be interested to see what software is born to help design touch gaming and simulations.

Not to be overly zealous about technology, I have seen amazing teachers and trainers engage classes and impart knowledge in retainable ways with little technology. They kept the desired result of their training in mind while designing their instruction around how people learn. (These are also the same people who walked 12 miles uphill through the snow, to and from school as children, I'm sure.)

Two things are of utmost importance at all times:
1) What is the desired outcome of my training?
2) How do people learn?

Regarding the latter, I tend to think that Bloom's taxonomy of learning is solid. Whether you utilize his exact terms, or Anderson/Krathwohl's 2001 update of terms, we need to remember the goal of our training (application/performance) and remember the fundmentals of learning. If touch technology can help students to comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, or evaluate, amen. Bring it on (and let's hope there is room in the budget). I am for technology, but If a cardboard puzzle happens to work the same for a given exercise, I'll use the cheaper, more effective tool.

That said, can I get my iPad already? This Commodore 64 is a bit outdated.



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