Distance learning, eLearning, LMS, LXP—there are tons of terms floating around about how technology is revolutionizing the way we learn. But when it comes to business, mobile learning—or mLearning—is gaining traction and here to stay.
mLearning uses mobile technology to deliver learning and training materials that are context-aware, on-demand, and just in time. It’s less structured and formal than a traditional eLearning course, focusing less on memorizing and knowledge retention and more on skill and experience. Learners are able to quickly access key data and review relevant information about a task to improve their productivity and make better-informed decisions in real-time. And the more mobile technology grows, the easier it will be to harness this potential for company-related training and knowledge dissemination. Already, the ownership and use of mobile devices have become so commonplace that it’s almost essential. A 2018 study showed that 77% of all adults in the U.S. own a smartphone, with that number averaging at 92% for adults between the ages 18-49. That’s a significant portion of the workforce who already possess their own mobile device with the technology capable of delivering training and continued learning opportunities to an increasingly remote staff anywhere and at any time.
According to a 2016 survey, mobile learning is the third-highest business development priority for companies, and it’s reported that 47 percent of companies are currently using mobile learning in their training programs. If you fall into that other 53 percent, it’s time to accept the mobile shift and start taking advantage of what mobile learning has to offer.
Advantages of mLearning
According to a Gallup study, 87 percent of millennials say that professional training and career growth are very important. As the millennial workforce continues to grow (at least 50 percent by 2020), it’d be naïve to ignore the work shift that is occurring. The traditional 9-5 office era is essentially over. More employees are working remotely than ever before. Teams are spread all over the country—even the world. And your business needs ways to implement training, enforce company standards, and disseminate essential information quickly and efficiently to all your teams and employees. Enter: mLearning.
Reduces Training Costs
Planning a face-to-face training session can be expensive. Costs can include travel expenses for subject experts and training professionals, training materials, location, etc. Plus, these training sessions are restricted to a single place at a single time, which makes it difficult to include everyone that could benefit from training.
Instead, training professionals and learning & development departments can create a comprehensive mobile-learning application or include mobile-learning material to supplement other traditional or eLearning training to reduce training costs by up to 50 percent.
Improves Motivation & Engagement
As stated above, millennials are already motivated to train, but mLearning is not only catered to millennials. A 2017 study reports that 70 percent of respondents felt more motivated to learn when able to navigate courses using mobile technology, and a 2015 study reported that 72 percent reported increased engagement. Obviously, being more motivated to interact with the material and being more engaged with the material are huge performance metrics for training and education.
Boosts Knowledge Retention
Of course, motivation and engagement can only get you so far. Training is all about retaining knowledge, learning procedures, and improving skills. While simply engaging in material on mobile devices does nothing for knowledge retention specifically, the technology presents an opportunity for personalized learning schedules and push learning. Since each learner is able to engage with the material at their own time and pace, mobile learning can tailor content based on current skills/knowledge and send push notifications for certain material to align with natural memory formation and combat the forgetting curve.
Creates Opportunity for Just-In-Time Learning
Since mobile-learning materials are ostensibly available anywhere, memorization is less important since key points of data can be delivered at the point of need. This is called Just-in-Time Learning (JITT), which not only helps learning blend with practice and performance but also increases confidence. With JITT, learners can cross-check facts, review training materials, or go over checklists to confirm their decisions and improve accuracy.
Mobile learning greatly increases the flexibility of training programs since employees no longer have to find a way to attend an in-person session. And since mLearning often utilizes microlearning, these small chunks of learning material are perfect for interacting with during spare time like traveling, commute, or downtime at work.
With all of these benefits, it’s a wonder that every company isn’t integrating their own mLearning strategy. But it’s not just about transferring an eLearning course to mobile technology or uploading training documents onto an app. A successful mobile-learning strategy involves optimizing your training content to maximize the benefits above with an array of multimedia content like videos, podcasts, visual presentations, and more. Though it seems like a lot, the payoff is worth it.
Things to Consider When Designing
Obviously, planning is one of the most important steps to any project, and a mobile-learning strategy is no exception. You’ll want to outline what your training goals are, your audience’s mobile habits and capabilities, the devices and delivery platforms available, and whether these will conflict with any security issues you may encounter.
When designing your mobile-learning strategy, you’ll want to focus mainly on the types of content, their deliverability, and how well they accomplish your training goals. Concentrate on small, bite-sized chunks that focus on a single goal or task. Repurpose old training materials, but make sure you update them in a way that’s engaging. Develop engaging content across different multimedia platforms, paying special attention to short videos and other visual learning materials. Incorporate social and collaborative elements like forums and chat. Utilize notifications and push technology to keep employees informed of company information and motivated to continue training.
Will training occur solely on the mobile platform, or will it supplement other traditional training? Will your company adopt a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, or will mobile devices be supplied? Will there be training or support related to the new training technology? Ideally, these questions would be answered in the planning phase, but it’s extremely important to ensure a smooth and successful deployment of this new technology across the company.
Most learning and training involves evaluating the knowledge learned and the skills acquired. How will this look in reference to your training goals? Will the material have a time limit or specific date of completion? Will evaluations occur in the mobile device in the form of tests? Will the skills learned be monitored and evaluated in person? These are all things to make sure you think about when developing your mLearning strategy.
As time goes by, mobile technology improves, and companies continue to adopt mobile learning into their training strategies, it’s clear that mLearning isn’t just another technology buzzword but rather an important shift in the way training and learning occur. The term mobile isn’t reserved for just smartphones and tablets but refers to on-the-go, which means mobile technology isn’t leaving—it’s only improving. So it’s important to embrace the shift and develop your mobile-learning strategy today.