As the digital world expanded, our options for how and when to participate in learning expanded too. Learners of all types have choices now when it comes to academic learning, corporate training, and more. One delivery method, in particular, is gaining steam because of its user-friendly approach: mobile learning.
Mobile learning is sometimes misunderstood as tapping away at a slide deck on a smartphone or tablet. What mobile learning really is, is a process. It encompasses learning via the internet by accessing all kinds of content. In its early years, mobile learning was thought of as a way to make sure PDFs, PowerPoints, or other readable materials displayed correctly on a mobile device. Now it’s more immersive and includes podcasts, animation, training videos, step-by-step guides, and even assessments.
Because the learning takes place online, the user can participate in social learning as well. Posting on a group discussion board, showcasing their badges, and sharing their progress are always that connect learners. Learning management systems (LMSs) have adapted to track learners both on and offline. This makes keeping up with their progress easy for supervisors, training managers, or personnel liaisons in charge of staff development.
The Science Behind Mobile Learning
Mobile learning combines convenience and varied media to accomplish its goals. Engaging with animation or videos increases the likelihood information will be transferred to long-term memory. Many mobile learning platforms use gamification as a way to evaluate a user without a traditional assessment.
Success in these games activates the reward center of the user’s brain and motivates them to continue. Since 2000, hundreds of studies on mobile learning have been done and many of them show a promising trend toward mobile learning’s potential to increase motivation and promote critical thinking skills when engaging with content.
Mobile Learning Theories
Mobile learning excels in supporting a number of learning styles
- Cognitive. Cognitive learners enjoy being able to see and hear the information presented. Videos, animations, and narrated slide decks all support this learner in absorbing the message in a way that allows them to put it into action later.
- Situational. A situational learner needs more context about “when” they should do something and “why.” Scenario-based learning gives them an opportunity to experience and practice appropriate behaviors with instant feedback.
- Conversational. For learners that miss the connection of the classroom or instructor-led training, they can still get their conversational learning style needs met via mobile learning. Many mobile learning apps and LMSs support video chat discussion groups that let colleagues talk about what they’ve learned.
- Collaborative. Being together to brainstorm or workshop is easier with breakout rooms, digital whiteboards, and on-demand chat room interactions.
The Benefits of Mobile Learning
Storytelling scripts should have the following elements:
Learn anytime, anywhere!
One of the biggest challenges of instructor-led training is timing. Learners are only able to take the class when it’s offered and how–whether that be showing up to a classroom or hopping onto a video chat. With Mobile Learning, asynchronous interaction with the material can happen during a person’s commute, while interacting with a product or even in between meetings.
Short, pithy, and to the point
Because mobile learning is meant to be brief, the videos, presentations, podcasts, courses, or documents the learner is interacting with all get to the point right away. The participant gets what they need without a significant time investment. This encourages users to engage with their learning more and complete more modules. Just by spending a few minutes each day (or week), they get the satisfaction of completion and the reward of knowledge. This highlights the important relationship between mobile learning and microlearning.
A big bang for your buck
Mobile learning contents, like training videos or animation, can be repackaged and repurposed easily and often to refresh or relaunch learning programs. Consider this example, if you were to develop a customer service mobile learning program, some of the content could be reused for a sales training workshop. Your training manager could select the media they thought was relevant and then push it out to the participants as prework. The participants would then be able to complete the assignment around their schedule and be ready to fully engage in the workshop.
How to Decide if Mobile Learning is Right for You
While mobile learning has dozens of practical applications in academia and corporate training, it’s important to make sure this style of learning makes sense for your situation. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- How comfortable is my audience with technology? If your audience only uses a computer for work and rarely engages with a smartphone or tablet, expecting them to change their habits might be unrealistic.
- Does my target audience often need to access information on the go? This could be your sales force that needs to update themselves on new product specs before a meeting or a repair person who encounters an issue on a service call. If accessing what they need on their phones would benefit them and your business, mobile learning would be a good fit
- Does training and information need to be available 24/7? In an increasingly global economy, many large teams are spread across countries but still work together. If you have an international workforce that needs training, having access to mobile learning allows them to learn on their schedule and in their time zone.
- Is refresher training necessary? Certain types of compliance training and professional licenses could benefit from, or require, periodic training. Making these available to your audience on an on-demand, self-paced basis makes staying current easier.
- Is what you’re asking them to access easy to view on a mobile screen? Complex diagrams, technical maps, and blueprints are just some examples of things that need to be studied in detail in order to be really understood. Viewing them on a small screen isn’t helpful to the learner and won’t communicate your intended message.
- Do you have, or can you create, content that adheres to microlearning standards? Remember, mobile learning works because it’s clear and brief. You’ll want to make sure you won’t be shifting full-length videos, giant training manuals, or rambling slide decks to your mobile learning program. You won’t see the results you want when it comes to learner participation and retention. Be prepared to cut and reshape your content to make it effective as mobile learning.
- Do you have, or can you get, an LMS that supports mobile learning? Some Learning Management Systems don’t have responsive page designs for log-in, aren’t intuitive in their navigation, or don’t support streaming media–like videos or podcasts. Check all of these features before exploring mobile learning at your organization.