What is mobile learning?
From trendy buzzword to industry essential
A couple of years ago Yardstick excitedly wrote about the emergence of a relatively new buzzword in the training and development industry – mLearning. mLearning, or mobile learning, is training that can be taken on a learner’s phone, often delivered in bite-sized chunks, so learners can complete modules while on lunch break or on the bus.
Since that time, mLearning has grown from a trendy concept to an industry necessity. Mobile technology has fundamentally changed the way organizations function, and in response, employers are adapting how they train their employees. These changes mean that providing mobile-responsive training is now something that needs to be front of mind when developing training.
Moving from traditional desktop eLearning to mLearning may seem like an unnecessary venture, but consider that in 2016 the time users accessed digital media is on a mobile device 51% of the time, compared to on desktop, 42%1. This trend of increasing usage of mobile devices is poised to continue, which means that the training industry will need to keep up. In doing so, it’s important to understand why, when, and how, to make the move from eLearning to mLearning.
Although eLearning may seem to be falling by the wayside with our growing focus on mLearning, both still have immense value.
The decision to move from one to the other, or to integrate mLearning into your existing eLearning solution, needs to be focused on what your course objectives, and your learners. Before you make the move, ask yourself:
- Who are your learners? Are they working professionals? Students or professionals-in-training? Members of the public? What is your target demographic in terms of age and access to technology?
- Where are your learners? Will they be taking your course in an office environment? Will they have consistent and reliable access to wireless internet?
- How do your learners engage with technology? Are they comfortable using personal devices to take this training? Would they take advantage of the flexibility mLearning allows? Do they expect information to be delivered seamlessly, at their fingertips at a moment’s notice?
- Are there content limitations that make mLearning a challenge? For example, do you need to integrate certain diagrams that would not be readable on a smaller screen?
Training programs developed with an emphasis on mLearning are inherently different from traditional eLearning due to the change in medium. This means that the instructional design of mLearning also needs to be different than the approach to eLearning.
Are you looking to make the switch? Here are the top 5 things to keep in mind when designing your mobile learning solution:
- Interface: Provide higher levels of user control
- Design: Use familiar, intuitive designs that are easy to navigate on phone screens
- Text and visual aids: Try to limit the amount of text you use as much as possible, or supplement it with visual aids such as photos, illustrations, or infographics
- User experience: Employ interactive components to organize content and allow learners to engage in a way that minimizes scrolling.
This is a lot to keep in mind! One tool that our instructional design and eLearning development team have found immense value in is the Adapt framework. Adapt allows for the development of fully custom HTML5, mobile-responsive mLearning. We have already developed several mLearning courses using the Adapt framework. With Adapt, you can also develop a blended m– and eLearning solution, where learners can move back and forth between a computer-based platform, and their phones.
KPPCB. (2015). Internet Trends 2015 – Code Conference, 27 May 2015.. http://www.kpcb.com/internettrends.