The learning and development (L&D) community has been abuzz with talk of mobile learning. There is a reason why mobile is the talk of the town – it is so powerful that it makes learning available anywhere and anytime. It offers a slew of benefits to learners – they can be more productive, more powerful, in more places, at more times – and also to the organization implementing it.
There is loads of information available online about mobile learning and how to get started. However, with all that web noise and amid constant stream of information, it’s simply not easy to find really useful information. If you are toying with the idea of including mobile learning as part of your training solution, here are a few questions to help you along.
1. What is the nature of the learning problem being addressed?
Behind each training there is a learning problem that the training is trying to achieve or solve.
It’s essential to know that different types of learning problems can be solved by employing different kinds of training delivery methods, which is to say that not all learning problems can be overcome through mobile learning.
You can deliver the primary teaching content through traditional classroom training and/or web-based training. For example, if the training requires constant face-to-face interaction with the trainer, there’s no point in having mobile learning in place, just for the sake of it. Of course, you can supplement the training through mobile learning, but that’s a whole different scenario.
However, if your focus is to help learners demonstrate knowledge of concepts or practice skills, access just-in-time information, and receive information updates, then the ideal solution would be to use mobile learning. Here’s an example: if your learners wish to apply what they’ve learned or when something goes wrong (at work), they can make use of their mobile devices to access the learning resources (PDFs, infographics, etc.).
2. What is the complexity of media elements required?
Along with the learning problem to be addressed, it is equally important to see what kind of media elements are required to offer an ideal mobile learning experience. There are different ways through which you can offer mobile learning – through video, text, visuals, animations, etc.
Is the content you want to offer through m-learning solely text-based?
Do you want to provide only PDFs (for performance support) as part of your mobile learning strategy?
Do you want to give learners access to download podcasts, videos, or recordings?
Each of these scenarios makes use of different media elements in their presentation.
Decide what you want to include in your learning strategy, because mobile learning is all about consuming content in short bursts. The vast majority of learners would want on-demand, just-in-time performance support. Asking your learners to watch a 5-minute video would not make much sense if glancing at a visual, explaining the same concept, can do the trick.
3. How will your solution benefit from being delivered over the medium?
Ask yourself how you can make the best use of the functionalities of the mobile medium to deliver your training content; mobile learning is not desktop learning, compressed onto a mobile or tablet. If you are using mobile devices to offer training, then it’s imperative you leverage its unique features:
- Gestures (pinch, swipe, tap, double tap, multi-touch) promote fluid navigation and go beyond the traditional Next/Back buttons
- Search functionality to allow users easy access to information on the go
- GPS to provide location-specific information to learners; for example, providing location-specific product information to salespeople on the move
- Camera to help learners scan QR codes to access information
4. Is the learning environment ‘mobile ready’?
Agreed that mobile learning is an ideal candidate to deliver performance-oriented support. It’s also imperative to determine whether the content you offer through the medium will actually help them apply their skills better in a complex setting.
It’s a no brainer that whenever a process changes in an organization, it’s met with resistance. How do you know if your organization is ready for a mobile learning culture? Here are a few questions to help you decide:
- Is your organization open to learning that is not classroom-based or delivered on a desktop/mobile? If you are a company that belongs to the Banking Sector, chances are that your project stakeholders may have concerns regarding the safety of the training material.
- Does the organization have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place? What is the current availability of devices? Different devices have different designs. So, consider this variation in the device platform to plan the design and delivery of your mobile learning.
- Is your IT department equipped to keep your training data safe?
The introduction of mobile learning is of great interest to any organization wanting to do something different, but a mobile learning strategy – or any learning strategy for that matter – is of no use if it isn’t adding value to the organization’s existing training scenario. At the same time, understand what the current state of your training program is, and then decide how mobile learning can be used to fill the gaps.