Noom: For a lifestyle change

Noom is spooky sometimes. Great, but spooky. Noom is an app for your phone, one that introduces a healthier lifestyle. Not a diet app, definitely. It is specifically designed as a mobile app. You carry it with you. It never nags, but does put thoughts into your head. Good thoughts. It uses psychology. A lot of psychology. To come at you from every angle. But never too much (well, maybe once or twice in the last month). You get set up to recognize three categories of food. You log your weight and food intake each day, but it is a lot less onerous than other apps. They ballpark some, but it comes out close to reality.

Each day, they have 3-5 short lessons, broken into a half dozen screenfuls, with a light approach to ideas like attitudes toward food in general, then to attitudes to missing your targets, and how to reign in your id without strangling it. On top of all this, you they pick out a couple dozen people from around the world in a similar situation, or a complementary situation, and let you help each other out. And then you get a coach, someone to organize all the psychobabble, so that it just turns into good advice that is pretty easy to follow.

The scary part is like the time I skipped breakfast. The next day, I get a lesson on how getting 3 squares is a good option to follow unless you are a forager type. See how they get you there? They know I am not a forager by my logging of food. But set that way, I am motivated to get my 3 squares and limit it to that. Healthy without being too constrictive. Last night, I came in under my calorie ceiling, so I had a nice chunk of dark chocolate. Today, I get that as an example, saying great to have rewards, but make them intermittent, better reinforcement. Touche. I have been too regular there.

On their website you can see they are a young company, with lots of female input. Offices in Manhattan, Tokyo, and Seoul. Versions of the app in those languages and more. My daughter works in tech in Tokyo, and she instantly recognized the name when I mentioned it. She is guessing the format will get applied to other areas besides health and lifestyle once they have the blueprint down. Looks pretty well done from here.

This has given me some ideas for language teaching, but that is for another post.

MOOCs and testing: the other shoe drops

We’ve all been amazed by the proliferation of MOOCs in the last year. We were all wondering how these large universities were going to monitize the courses to cover expenses. Now the other shoe has dropped. Testing. They provide certificates if the students can go to a testing center (Pearson, for example) and take the test, after the MOOC. This solves a number of problems besides profit. Making the tests with a third party allows for a second tier branding without affecting the F2F product they currently have.

Thanks to Stephen Downes at the OLDaily for the pointer.

elearning and mlearning
image from see discussion there

Before any good discussion begins, everyone needs to be on the same page, using the same meanings for the same terms, or at least understand the differences. In the lead-up to the start of mobi.mooc and #potcert (Program for Online Teaching Certificate), spreading thoughts on differences between elearning and mlearning.

Clark Quinn’s Learnlets showed up in my RSS feed this morning with a pointer to RJ Jaquez and discussion of this topic. Quinn talks briefly about learning augmentation, and gets to the crux of the matter,

If your mobile solution isn’t doing something unique because of where (or when) you are, if it’s not doing something unique to the context, it’s not mlearning.

Which is all well and good. He goes on to say that most people don’t use tablets when running to catch a plane (I do), and even though interface is a bit tangential

it’s mostly about performance support, or contextualized learning augmentation, it’s not about just info access in convenience.

So there IS the form factor, but it is not central to this issue of mlearning. Mlearning is in what the software does, not what the hardware looks like.

Jaquez writes a list of requirements for mlearning, and he is specific about touch screens, screen orientation, content as navigation, sensors, and of course, location.

All this is interesting, but shouldn’t a good elearning program these days be able to add in features of mlearning when needed or when the learner is capable of using them? OK, there are pragmatic concerns, and just adding mobile features to an elearning program is not making it mlearning, but can’t there be a way to segue from one to another seamlessly? And does it matter?