Mobile Learning or mLearning is probably a hot topic of discussion in your organization right now. Heck, it’s already a part of your learning/training mix! Or maybe, you are a part of another set of organizations, where the L&D professionals are still struggling to build a business case for mLearning. If you see yourself nodding to the latter, there’s still hope. Understanding how mobile devices are different from conventional computers used for eLearning and the different avenues they open up for learning, is a great starting point to build a business case for m-Enabling your organizational L&D interventions.
While Mobile Learning is not a novel concept anymore, there is still a common misconception that mLearning is just about being able to view eLearning content on mobile phones. Nothing could be further from the truth! As Ray Kurzweil said in 2009, “Mobile phones are misnamed. They should be called gateways to all human knowledge”.
Mobiles devices, today, are extremely capable – working as a phone, camera, audio/video recorder, mp3 / video player, computer, internet device, GPS device, eBook readers, game console, bar code, QR code scanner, motion sensor, AR tools, and more. If you consider these capabilities, you can do much more on mobile devices than just deliver learning content. Very aptly then, in 2015, Marc Rosenberg, PhD, Management Consultant and Author, (re)defined Mobile Learning as “the capability to seamlessly deliver a wide array of knowledge and performance improvement resources to users—anyplace, on any platform, on demand, and at the moment of need.” Spot on!
But what makes mLearning the perfect fit for the workplace? The answer is in the details. And these two in particular – increasingly on-the-go workforce and the booming young population entering corporate.
The Growing ‘Young’ Mobile Workforce
An observable trend which is clearly driving L&D professionals towards mLearning today is the growing mobile workforce. In most organizations, the sales staff, transportation personnel, and senior executives are mostly on-the-go. Amongst other staff too, most spend considerable time in their daily commute. It is estimated that ‘the mobile workforce is going to double or triple in size by the year 2018’ (Gartner). This is already having an impact on the way we design and manage work itself and is bound to impact the training domain as well. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is one of the visible impacts of the growing mobile workforce and rapidly improving mobile technologies. ‘By 2017, half of the world’s employers may impose a mandatory BYOD policy – requiring employees to bring their own laptop, tablet or smartphone to work’, according to Gartner.
Additionally, the workforce now is seeing the entry of Millenials, or Generation Y, (those born after mid 80s) who are believed to be more tech-savvy than any of the previous generations. They grew up with technology and rely on it to perform their jobs better. They’re usually connected and may prefer to communicate though emails and text messages. Instructor led training may not be the most desired modes of learning for them.
While the millenials lap up technology faster than others, the ‘older’ generations are not too far behind as they use mobile technology for their daily activities. So as most of your staff becomes comfortable with mobile technology and starts using it in their daily lives, that’s something they’d start expecting to be used at the workplace too.
Benefits of Mobile Learning
Mobile Learning is not a fad that has caught on. It is an effective solution to a number of L&D problems. Here are a few of the most notable benefits of mLearning:
- Provides access to learning training anytime and anywhere
- Available at the moment of creative impulse
- Fits learners’ schedules because of its flexibility
- Can consist of much more than just courses (videos, presentations, documents and more!)
- Can work with or without Internet connection (the new-age Mobile LMSs have this capability)
- Reduces learner downtime, increasers productivity
Using Mobile Learning in the Workplace
Though many L&D professionals are clearly interested in mLearning, a common question that many of them have is – how do we actually use it in the workplace? A comprehensive Learning Management System, along with mobile-optimized content, can help support and optimize Mobile Learning.
Below are the 3 key ways in which organizations can leverage mLearning in the workplace with an LMS:
1. Content Delivery
Content delivery in the form of mobile-ready and mobile-optimized multi-media, which includes a combination of video, audio, text, and animation, delivered through a Learning Management System is perhaps the simplest form of Mobile Learning. These mLearning nuggets can be easily added to your learning/training blend as a part of an LMS’ Blended Learning. Whether it’s a pre-class micro-course or a post-class follow-up in the form of a video summary that helps the learner in applying some of what s/he has learnt, mobile-device specific content works perfectly well.
2. Just-in-time Information/ Performance Support Aid
As adults, learning happens most often when we are stuck with a problem or have made a mistake. So it’s not surprising that our mind is most receptive to new information and willing to learn in those moments. Mobiles are excellent devices to help retrieve information like ‘how-to’ manuals or videos, or simply search for answers. A Responsive, Multi-device LMS can perfectly mimic this process with work-related information, presenting just-in-time info nuggets for on-the-job performance support.
3. Tool for Offline Learning
While there is no doubt that an LMS can provide the best and the most optimum learning experience for “online” training, in cases of spotty Internet connectivity or remote locations with no Internet access, an LMS, however great, renders pretty much useless. This is where a Mobile LMS or an app-based ‘Offline’ player fits in. By enabling users to download the assigned training content (in the form of videos, courses, documents, etc.) onto their mobile devices when connected to the Internet and accessing it (multiple times too!) when traveling or in off-Internet areas, it helps in reducing learner downtime and providing a continuous learning experience. That this offline training activity can be tracked (by the LMS backend) when connected back to the Internet, empowers the learners and the L&D departments alike.
Mobile Learning can truly narrow the ‘digital divide’ that exists in workplaces today. Now is the right time to adopt it, and start experiencing some of its benefits.
m-Enable your training with UpsideMOVE, an offline mLearning app for iOS and Android powered by UpsideLMS. Request a Demo today.