Mobile learning via smart phones and tablets has increased significantly over the last few years. Incorporating it into an overall eLearning strategy needs some careful thought if it is to be effective.
The shift towards mobile learning, or mLearning, is a result of the growth in smartphones, and the way we now prefer to access and consume content. This is especially true of younger people, but also older generations who are finding the boundaries between work and their personal lives blurring.
Today’s changing work environment has put more reliance on mobile technologies. Remote working and flexible hours demanded from employees looking for a greater work-life balance means we spend less time at our desks. In fact, some reports show that during a typical working week we are only at our desk around 50 percent of the time.
So the advantage of mobile learning is that content can conveniently be accessed from almost anywhere to deliver ‘just-in-time training’ and ‘on-the-job’ support when needed. However, delivering mobile learning has some obvious challenges which may limit some types of training:
- The screen size limits how much content is displayed.
- Without a keyboard or mouse navigation must be simple with the minimal of interactions.
- Too much time working with a small screen can quickly lead to a loss of interest, lowering course completion rates.
- There is also the paradox of having a readily available device for training which can easily become a distraction with interruptions from email and social media alerts.
More important is deciding what information to include when designing mLearning course content. Subject-matter experts, academics and technical people usually want to include all related content. Learners in a business context prefer focused course content which delivers just the essential, “need-to-know” material. In striking the right balance prioritise the essential material for mobile content delivery and use a blended learning approach to link to other materials and resources.
Best practice for delivering mobile learning
Despite these issues here are some best practices for delivering mobile learning:
- Keep your audience in mind. Limit the scope of the learning objectives and the amount, and type, of content that is suited to a mobile device.
- Take a blended learning approach and use mLearning alongside other methods where necessary.
- Package the mLearning content into a logical structure of short, bite-sized lessons to support self-paced, on-demand learning. This approach increases the learner’s comprehension and retention, as well reducing the time needed to complete them.
- Don’t rely just on text and graphics. Use multimedia to convey complex information, and remember to summarise and reinforce key learning points.
- Use a system with an easy to use interface with simple and consistent navigation. This will keep the learners attention on the course content.
- Remember to include a short course feedback section to evaluate the course content and overall learning experience.