A lot is talked about mobile learning, its immense capability in knowledge transfer and how it is the next important thing in the learning landscape. However, it is essential that the potential of mobile learning is understood in the context of your organization, your employees and the types of jobs they do, and also their profiles. If you are planning to implement mobile learning, there are two different contexts you need to consider.
1. Making your existing e-learning courses work on mobile devices – you can choose this option if you think your employees will enjoy the choice of accessing the courses from their mobile devices. These employees do have access to personal computers at their workstation and will use mobile devices to access courses when they’re away from their desk, perhaps at home, just to continue what they started at work. Or, make use of the travel time they spend in a train or at airports. Making your existing courses accessible to mobile devices is an additional facility/option you are providing to your learners, who may find it to be a convenient option.
2. Creating unique courses that are meant for mobile devices – this option is relevant for those employees who do not have a fixed workstation and are constantly on the move. Or, at least they spend the maximum part of the work time on the field. Salespeople, delivery personnel, healthcare professionals are some of the examples of people who may not really spend lot of time at a desk. In fact, a sizable number of them may not even have a work desk of their own. Such individuals would benefit a lot through courses that are uniquely designed for mobile learning.
In fact, in their research paper, Pimmer & Pachler, they have termed converting e-learning content suitable for delivery on mobile devices as traditional form of mobile learning. They emphasized that it is essential to capitalize the unique abilities of mobile devices beyond making e-learning courses responsive to mobile devices. Based on what they have shared in their paper, here are some of the contextual dimensions for mobile learning.
Peer to peer learning: Imagine, a service technician has found an easier method to solve a mechanical problem. He records the process on a video and shares with his colleagues. Learning doesn’t always have to be initiated by the organization. It can also be initiated by employees in the form of user-generated content. However, organizations can facilitate the process and make it easier for the employees to upload the video or any other multi-media content to a central portal such as an LMS or intranet portal so that it benefits a number of people. This also enables active interaction among employees, irrespective of their location and have opportunity to showcase their findings, experiences to a wider growth.
Just-in-time learning against just-in-case learning: Formal training is dubbed as just-in-case learning because employees are given theoretical or abstract information that will come in handy in case of a future situation. There is no immediate avenue for the knowledge to be applied. On the contrary, just-in-time learning is available to employees at the moment of need – when employees are looking for help or information that gets applied immediately.
Collaborative learning: While technology makes self-paced learning possible, it also opens avenues to engage and interact with others. It is stated that employees are more likely to use mobile devices to interact with ‘2nd and 3rd level individuals’. The interactions are less transactional and more social, making the engagement more informal. Traditionally, it might have been impossible for a junior employee to have direct access to a subject matter expert within the organization. However, with the right set-up in the learning management system, or mobile applications, it is quite possible for any employee to share, interact and engage with experts across the organization. Such an opportunity does broaden the horizons of the employees enabling them to actively participate in the knowledge gaining process.
Reinforcing classroom training: While no one undermines the need and importance of instructor-led classroom training, there is always a constant need for reinforcing what has been shared in the classrooms. Mobile devices can be excellent to push small learning bites in the form of videos, podcasts, eBooks, infographics etc. that can be accessed by employees when they need them.
While it is essential to convert the existing e-learning content suitable for delivery on mobile devices, it would be a pity if you stop there. Mobile learning holds immense potential and depending on the needs of your organization and the profile of your employees, you can explore a myriad ways to make use of it.
Pimmer, C., & Pachler, N. (2013). Mobile learning in the workplace. Unlocking the value of mobile technology for work-based education. In M. Ally & A. Tsinakos (Eds.), Mobile Learning Development for Flexible Learning: Athabasca University Press.