Mobile We know that mobile is hot. We learned that from Tomi Ahonen, who says mobile devices have become completely immersive gadgets that we simply can’t live without.

We know that social learning is hot. We learned that from Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner. It’s that notion that most of what we learn on a day-to-day basis comes not from the classroom, but from other people, in the form of questions and answers and advice delivered in the course of our day-to-day interactions.

Now, what happens when you combine the two?

That’s where Clark Quinn comes in. The acclaimed author and thought leader says the real potential of mobile comes from extending the learning experience and supporting people in the moment — giving them access to the right information wherever and whenever they need it.

“Informal learning is made up of two components,” says Quinn, author of Designing mLearning: Tapping into the Mobile Revolution for Organizational Performance and co-author of Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games. “First, there’s performance support — the resources you need, the individual information access you get to help you. Then there’s social learning, where you’re connecting with other people who can help you, mentor you, collaborate with you to solve problems. Mobile provides both of those. It’s a tool to access information and people whenever you need it, wherever you are.”

Quinn calls that type of functionality “a total game-changer” — or at least it will be when people start using it.

Beyond that? Quinn zeroes in on mass customization à la Netflix and  Amazon, but on a mobile scale.

“Knowing who you are and what you need to know and where you are and combining that with ‘smart push’ — that’s the opportunity that’s on the table,” he said. “In the next five years, I think we’ll certainly see some experimentation (with creating extended learning experiences).”

That’s groundbreaking stuff. Imagine leaving the classroom and continuing your education through the combined power of social learning and mobile devices.

Hear more of Quinn’s thoughts in this MACPA interview, recorded during the 2011 NASBA CPE Conference in San Diego.

What do you think? Is education the next great mobile frontier?

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