Mobile learning is not like any other training method. One thing that we need to remember is that it cannot really replace existing training methods. What it best does is supplement or complement existing methods – be it instructor-lmlearned training or eLearning. What does this mean? It means that you cannot have a blanket mLearning implementation across the organization. It would not work and it would not be prudent to do that. It is important to analyze the audience that is most suitable for mLearning implementation in your organization.
Here are the questions you need to answer before implementing mLearning in your organization.
1. Who benefits from mLearning in the organization?
This really depends on your organization and the type of employees working there. For example, you may have shop floor workers who may be working in the assembly line. You may need to remind them of safety precautions from time to time. You could consider mLearning. Other people who are likely to benefit would be technicians, service engineers or sales personnel. You need to evaluate your own workforce and identify those for whom mLearning would be relevant. This will help you design content that is suitable for the target audience.
2. How will mobile learning address their learning needs?
The next important question is the particular learning need that the initiative will address. For example, patient care givers might benefit from getting some inputs on additional features of a piece of equipment (such as a hospital bed). Alternatively, they might find it useful to have some tips or guidelines in diagnosing a disease, based on given symptoms. No matter what the need, it needs to be clearly defined and the mLearning module should address it specifically. Ideally, one learning need should be addressed through one mLearning module.
3. What activities do they perform with mobile devices?
Once you have identified your audience, you need to analyze what activities they perform with mobile devices – send emails, videos and text, access the Internet or just make voice calls. This helps in deciding the complexity of design for the mLearning modules. You can have simple videos to complex apps, depending on the comfort of your target audience.
4. Why will mobile source be the preferred mode for these learners?
This is an important question that you need to answer. Why will mLearning be appealing to your target group? Can’t they be reached through other methods? Anyone would adopt a new methodology only if it provides him some additional value. Mobile learning would be appealing to a sales person if it provides him relevant information at the right time to close a sale. Similarly, it would be beneficial to a service person if it enables him to access critical information that helps him fix a piece of machinery at a client’s place.
5. Where are they likely to be when they access the learning resources?
It is important to understand the location from where your target audiences are accessing the learning resources. Would they have access to broadband or hi-speed internet? Would they have to use their mobile data plan? Based on these inputs, you can decide to format content in such a way that your users have the best possible benefit with/without the Internet. Trivial as it may seem, it is important to know if your learners would be seated comfortably or are they likely to be standing when accessing the resource; as design elements can be incorporated accordingly.
Here is a presentation that gives some more ideas on the typical audience for whom mobile learning would be useful.
Mobile learning may not be relevant to everyone in the organization. Mobile learning works for those who do not have access to a physical desktop computer, most times during the course of doing their jobs. For example, customer sales representatives who would be spending most of their time in front of their desk may not be the ideal audience for mLearning. Ideally, those employees who do not get to spend a big chunk of their time at their desks, who move from place to place to discharge their job responsibilities (such as sales people, service technicians) or people whose work does not allow them to spend time in front of the desktop (such as patient care representatives, nurses etc.) would be ideal candidates for mLearning.