- Posted by Chris Gipple
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The concept of eLearning isn’t new. Corporations and schools have used online courses and material for decades to disperse knowledge, build practical skills, and share values. But traditional eLearning methods must now adapt to a mobile society where people are on the go and information is moving faster than ever. With mobile learning, users can easily access content on their terms while in the field, at home, or in the office. Read on to explore what mobile learning really means and how your organization can leverage its benefits.
What is Mobile Learning (M-Learning)?
Mobile learning (m-learning) involves creating, consuming, and distributing digital instructional content through mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops. With the flexibility of mobile learning, team members can engage with eLearning content where and when they prefer. The shorter video guides, modern learning techniques, and interactive features that come with m-learning help simplify professional development, enable live communication, and support diverse learning needs.
M-learning makes it easy for learners to create a community based on shared experiences and gain practical knowledge at the swipe of a button. For instance, users can easily pull up a step-by-step video on their smartphone and communicate with others in real-time, providing added contextual value
M-Learning vs. eLearning
eLearning and mobile learning are closely related but distinct concepts. eLearning encompasses all digital learning, whether accomplished using a mobile device or not. M-learning adapts eLearning to our new normal, leaning into the powerful capabilities of mobile devices that enable new training possibilities.
The Benefits and Challenges of Mobile Learning
Today’s world is all about accessing and sharing information. But the benefits of the technological innovations that enable this are often accompanied by potential problems, and mobile learning is no exception. Being well aware of m-learning’s advantages and disadvantages will help you avoid potential pitfalls and create a strategy that supports proactive learning. First, let’s explore a couple major benefits.
1. Learn Anytime, Anywhere at Your Own Pace
Most people now own a mobile device these days. In the U.S. alone, 97% of adults have a cellphone, and 85% own smartphones. Mobile learningremoves barriers to access, increasing the likelihood that team members will complete training and remain engaged throughout the process. Instead of losing hours to day-long training sessions, mobile learning gives your team the flexibility to access content outside of a traditional classroom or office setting. Users learn at their own pace and comfort level.
2. The Flexibility to Adapt to Any Learning Style
Not everyone learns the same way, and mobile learning gives users the power to personalize the experience to match their preferences. For instance, mobile learning is a natural fit for microlearning, which divides content into bite-size chunks that make information easier to understand. A complex process seems much simpler when it’s broken up into a series of short video clips that clearly demonstrate how to perform each step.
Mobile devices also dovetail perfectly with a social learning approach that encourages discussion, relationship building, and sharing amongst users. This improves interactivity and performance, keeping users engaged and motivated to complete their lessons.
There are also some challenges you should consider before rolling out your strategy. Here are two of the biggest.
Limits of Technology
Without access to electricity and an internet connection, mobile learning can’t happen, which can be a limiting factor, especially for those living or working in rural areas. As more people globally gain access to smartphones and other devices, his will become less of a problem. Purchasing mobile devices for your employees with service providers that have the coverage you need can help mitigate this issue in the meantime.
You should also ensure learning features are compatible cross devices. For instance, some videos are best viewed in a mobile layout, while other formats are more universally user-friendly. Create and purchase content that you can use across platforms without excessive edits and manipulation. Lastly, take time to get team feedback before implementing a company-wide m-learning program so you can ensure it meets your employees’ needs.
Lack of Control Over the Learning Environment
Learning from anywhere means users may be accessing information in an environment that has a lot of distractions. Loud noises and frequent interruptions can harm the user’s focus and reduce the quality of the learning experience. Consider providing team members with a stipend to fund a personal workspace or equipment that helps team members create a controlled space to study without distractions.
Your mobile device also can be distracting in and of itself. Between pings from social channels, text messages, the news, and gaming updates, there’s something asking for your attention every few minutes. Be mindful that self-discipline will only go so far. Make the m-learning experience as engaging as possible and break up training monotony with short breaks, interactive games, and live sessions.
Using Mobile Learning to Educate Your Workforce
Gaining an understanding of mobile learning and how it can impact your organization is the first step. Now it’s time to discuss best practices that will take your m-learning strategy to the next level.
1. Take Connectivity Into Account
Since your users’ connectivity will significantly impact the quality of their experience, it should be the top determining factor when designing a company-wide mobile learning program. Consider that some team members may access material in the office, where they have a high speed internet connection that can support any type of content. Others will be in the field, using variable mobile data connectivity that may result in additional charges or require the use of more extensive data plans.
Assess how the content you share will impact users and consider providing company devices or compensating learners for additional fees. Put yourself in the user’s shoes to identify the best type of content for all team members.
2. Know Your Users’ Mobile Devices
The device and operating system learners use to access content should be your next consideration. Do your team members use smartphones, tablets, laptops, or other mobile devices? Do the majority of learners use Android or iOS? These factors can impact everything from how the content is presented to users to where they’ll be consuming it.
If your company provides devices to team members, this step will be relatively simple to complete. However, organizations with a “bring your own device” policy may struggle to craft a perfect m-learning program for all team members. Do your best to create and include design elements that are both dynamic and mobile-friendly for most of your users. Assess how each device fits into your mobile learning program and the user experience as they transition from their desktop to their mobile device of choice.
3. Adapt Your Content for Mobile
Users prefer to access the internet via their mobile device over a laptop or desktop. Over 55% of users accessed the internet via their mobile devices by the end of 2020, and even Google takes a mobile-first approach to organizing their search engine results page.
When selecting mobile-friendly content, be sure to refer to the previous steps and first consider user connectivity capabilities and devices. You should also ensure the format of your content will seamlessly translate to mobile. For instance, you can convert Word documents to ePub or MOBI formats while preserving the content’s look, feel, and messaging. You should also confirm that content meets the requisite learning standards like SCORM or xAPI/Tin Can.
M-learning supports a variety of learning styles, as noted above, so offer content that fits whatever approach your employees prefer. Here are a few ways you can lean into the strengths of m-learning:
- Asynchronous learning – With this approach, learnerscan engage with content whenever they prefer through video, audio, text, graphics, and intermediate follow-up assessments. This asynchronous technique is not as interactive as other types of m-learning but does enable users to learn at their own pace.
- Interactive lessons – Mobile learning is a two-waystreet. Online forums and boards allow instructors and learners to engage and discuss relevant topics with other users easily. This added feature is essential for instructors with large training classes, as it helps streamline interactions and collect feedback from users via survey or discussion.
- Synchronous learning – If you need live communication, synchronous m-learning may be the preferred approach. Instructors and learners can give input and communicate concerns in real-time. While sticking solely to synchronous learning curtails many of the benefits m-learning offers, including it as part of the learning experience will help keep learners engaged with your program, and some subjects require a hands-on approach to tackle effectively.
4. Create a Plan for M-Learning Success
Finally, it’s time to outline the objectives and intended results for your m-learning program. What skills do you want your audience to walk away with? Do you want to improve sales or customer satisfaction? Do you hope to see learners better retain knowledge, complete courses more quickly, or both? Measure success with an eLearning solution like a learning management system and adjust as needed to achieve your goals.
Enabling M-Learning with the Right eLearning Platform
A learning management system (LMS) acts as a centralized training hub that connects all your online training channels, content, and learners. It helps manage, organize, and distribute content and evaluate user performance. All users need is an internet connection, and they can access the LMS and course material from any location. The best learning management systems offer many features that elevate the m-learning experience, including:
- A customizable user interface that allows admins andlearners to easily configure dashboards, so everyone has what they need at their fingertips.
- Social learning capabilities support robust communicationwith online discussion boards and messaging to encourage an active online community.
- Mobile compatibility for the latest versions of both Android and iOS.
Your LMS should provide other features that are pivotal to eLearning as well, like detailed reports, email communication support, and learning automation capabilities. Ultimately, your LMS should be all things to all stakeholders involved in mobile learning — a management system for your administration team, a content delivery tool for your trainers, and a flexible, personalized experience for users.
Unlock the Benefits of Mobile Learning Today
Mobile learning can transform your organization’s training program into a mobile experience that engages users anywhere their work may take them. With the help of the right learning management system, you can realize the benefits of m-learning and build a foundation for long-term professional development. Inquisiq has helped deliver millions of courses using learning automation, social and blended learning features, and a mobile-friendly interface that makes all facets of eLearning easy.
Request a Demo of Inquisiq today and discover how hundreds of organizations have found eLearning success.