Mobile Learning is the availability of continuous and instant wireless communication without having to be restricted to a fixed place to seek knowledge.
- Mike Sharples (Father of mobile learning)
- According to a Morgan Stanley Research, 90% of the world population has access to a mobile telephone device.
- According to a report released by Forrester on mobile adoption, 66% of employees now use 2 or more devices including desktops, smartphones and tablets at work.
- Organizations today are dealing with increased and tough competition and believe that a competitive workforce is the key to success.
- To increase efficiencies in businesses and maintain the same zeal among the workforce, organizations are leveraging technology for knowledge transfer and investing more into training.
- 54% of organizations are now focusing on developing a comprehensive policy to support employees bringing their own devices for learning.
The above trends indicate it’s time for organizations to move from traditional e-learning to m-learning. Today, I would like to list 5 important steps to initiate m-learning, for organizations who wish to climb the mobile learning bandwagon.
5 key steps to kick-start m-learning
Step 1: Identify the requirement – In order to identify your requirement, ask the following questions.
- Who are the people that would benefit from m-learning?
- How would they benefit from it?
- What is the learning material available?
- What is the best way to present the material?
It is important to identify whether m-learning can support existing training methods.
Step 2: Select the devices – Organizations have two options – provide identical similar devices to employees or follow the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy which encourages employees to bring their own mobile devices.
Each option has its pros and cons. Let us see what they are.
1. Supplying Company Owned Devices
A major advantage of providing devices to employees is that security and compatibility issues can be avoided.
On the flip side, the organization will incur considerable expenditure on the purchase and maintenance of devices. Moreover, some employees may not find using multiple devices to be convenient.
2. BYOD Policy
The main benefit of following the BYOD policy is that organizations need not pay for mobile devices. Furthermore, employees can learn better on their own devices.
But, when employees use their own devices, problems such as security issues, data leakage, and compatibility issues may crop up.
Learners of an organization following the BYOD policy can access the organization’s resources using their personal mobile devices at the workplace. Many firms are adopting this policy, as it is more cost-effective.
Step 3: Design for the small screen -This step involves two major aspects.
1. Learning design: You can use various media and instructional elements to create an effective learning design.
- Podcasts could be used to deliver key messages from senior managers or the CEO as part of information security, compliance, change management and other training programs.
- Scenarios or case studies work well for compliance, safety training or workplace harassment prevention courses.
- Videos would be beneficial to demonstrate the working of a process, pieces of equipment or machinery.
2. Visual design: When formulating a visual design strategy for m-learning courses, you need to consider these aspects.
- How learners access them: The learners may access the courses with one hand or use the thumb for navigation. Also, they may be standing or moving in a train or a bus while using their mobile devices.
- Different screen sizes: When you want to launch m-learning, you need to understand that devices come in different sizes. For example, different tablets and smart-phones come in different sizes.
- Toggle features: Features such as touch, swipe and zoom have changed the way users interact with devices. While designing the interface, we have to take these features into consideration.
- Auto-rotation: This feature of mobile devices allows learners to use them both vertically and horizontally. Course interface needs to be designed keeping this in mind to ensure uniformity of design.
- Bandwidth or network access: What is the bandwidth available to users when they use their mobiles for learning? Multimedia features such as video animations need to be designed accordingly.
Step 4: Select the right development tool: In this step, you need to choose one of these two options.
1. Option 1: Using native features of HTML5, CSS3, and Java Script, you can create online courses by designing your own framework for mobile compatible.
2. Option 2: Development of learning-learning courses has been simplified considerably, with the advent of rapid authoring tools. Currently, latest versions of these authoring tools are able to publish courses to HTML5 making them compatible with most devices. Adobe Captivate 8, Articulate Storyline and Lectora Inspire are some of the well-known rapid authoring tools.
Step 5: Decide on the delivery method :
Companies have two options to deliver their m-learning courses.
- Use a Learning Management System (LMS) which is compatible with all mobile devices and can be used to track the data of their learners who access m-learning courses on various devices.
- Create and set up their own apps store similar to Apple Store or Google Play, where users can download the course.
Technology has revolutionized the way we work and learn, and the corporate training world is chanting the mobile mantra. What do you think?
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