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Mobile devices are now an integral part of daily life far beyond just dialing a number. There’s an app to help with almost any aspect of life from diet to complex math conversions. Information on any subject imaginable is accessible through the touch of a button. Mobile calendars organize life. Given how entrenched mobile usage is in daily personal life, it only makes sense that business organizations utilize mobile devices as a professional tool. Many organizations are turning to mobile devices as a delivery system for training and education programs. This is an endeavor holding as many benefits as it does challenges and solutions.
What Is Mobile Learning?
Mobile learning, or mLearning, delivers educational materials, learning support, and training via any mobile device. Unlike its cousin, eLearning, it’s designed to deliver concise information that users can access when and how they see fit as they go about their day. This accessibility allows for a broader learning opportunity since timing and accessibility aren’t constricted.
Benefits of mLearning
There are a plethora of benefits to your company in applying mLearning applications. Let’s look at two big incentives:
Worldwide, mobile phone user statistics have steadily climbed from 4.15 billion in 2015 to 4.57 billion in 2018, and those statistics predict mobile phone users to exceed the five billion mark by 2019. Pew Research Center statistics show just how important mobile devices are in the lives of Americans:
Mobile devices are owned by 95 percent of Americans.
Smartphones are owned by 77 percent of Americans.
One in every five Americans are smartphone-only internet users without access to traditional home internet services.
An array of research has shown that mobile has surpassed traditional methodologies in various points of delivery from news to sales. More Americans, for example, are now using mobile internet than newspapers to access their news. Black Friday’s 2017 sales of $3.79 billion wasn’t so far off from Cyber Monday’s $3.06 billion, and both were dwarfed by Chinese Single’s Day $25 billion dollars worth of e-commerce sales.
It’s clear that people are shifting to mobile to fulfill more and more of their personal and professional needs. As workforces become more challenging due to this global, tech-savvy, and remote worker atmosphere, mobile education is emerging as a reachability, flexibility, and accessibility solution that doesn’t involve the user sitting at a certain place for a certain length of time to receive educational and learning materials offered by their employers.
While there are times that large chunks of complicated information must be learned by an employee, much of an organization’s information directed at employees can be simplified and micro-sized to support self-directed, self-paced, on-demand learning of small chunks of high-value information. Mobile learning adds this diversity in what content is delivered, how it’s delivered, and how it’s utilized.
The element of widespread and immediate application is a perfect example. Traditional inservice and eLearning typically involves employees having to schedule a certain amount of stop-work time to complete. This translates into loss of work and attendance problems for your company, right? Multi-employee entities often complete such learning activities in segments, meaning some employees are implementing the learning materials that others have yet to even receive.
With mLearning, employees can immediately access the materials via their mobile device, consume the information within a few minutes, and more universally begin to immediately apply what they’ve learned to their work. Now, employees have revived and began utilizing the learning materials without missing a single step in their routine work activities.
Challenges & Solutions Of mLearning
While the benefits are clearly attractive to L&D, HR, and corporate training professionals, that’s not to say that mLearning doesn’t have its fair share of implementation challenges. Let’s look at the five main challenges and how to solve them:
Data Privacy And Security Risks
Complication: Opening your company’s network and sensitive data to the outside world presents an obvious risk of breach and/or theft.
Solution: Mobile internet security protocols, policies, and technologies should be in place prior to application. You can, for example, require learners to have antivirus software installed before accessing mLearning applications.
Complication: While BYOB, or bring your own device, makes mLearning convenient and low-cost for you, the provider, the formats and file sizes of existing content for eLearning and classroom inservice are rarely transferable to mobile application. There’s a cost involved in recreating such content for the various hardware and phone sizes employees bring to the table.
Solution: Begin by implementing a blended learning approach that enables you to fit technology into your learning plan.
Tip: Whether you’re developing or redeveloping, keep in mind that utilizing services like Designing Digitally helps you to curate content across multiple platforms, applications, and types of devices so that you can customize your curriculum to provide effective, innovative, and targeted materials to support your training objectives.
Complication: Few things spawn multi-tasking like a mobile device. This is great for time management, but it’s often not so great when it comes to effective learning. Other applications on the phone can be more interesting and deter from the learner focusing, retaining, and understanding the significance of the mLearning information.
Solution: As this Designing Digitally article on learner response details, how a mobile training application is received is all about captivating the audience with engaging and instantly gratifying content that enhances the learning experience.
Tip: The mLearning experience, if applied right, can offer an enhanced learning tool that surpasses the mere ability to recite key points of information bundles. Through immersive, fun, and interactive modules, learners can see how to actually apply what they’ve learned. Through storage of multiple micro-sized modules, learners can quickly and easily pull up info exactly when they need a how-to crash course or expedient confirmation that their thoughts or actions are inline with company procedure or objectives.
Complication: Medical experts advice against prolonged reading of text on small screens due to muscle strain, eye strain, and so forth health complications.
Solution: Display qualities, screen size, and viewing angles on mobile devices are continually improving to minimize such health risks. Add-on technology, such as virtual reality tools, are also available to neutralize such complications.
Tip: Outsourcing mLearning development to professionals can also help ensure that mobile learning solutions are comprehensive and concise enough to both fully deliver the objectives and not exceed recommended viewing times.
Complication: Mobile training solutions can be expensive if you’ve already invested in other education portals, and using research to justify the expense can prove challenging since mobile learning solutions are such a relatively new concept lacking in long-term measurements of return and success statistics.
Solution: Designing Digitally has compiled an extensive
case study record that outlines the approaches, challenges, solutions, and results from providing hundreds of various organizations with mLearning solutions. This provides you the unique opportunity to forecast the return of mLearning for your organization.
Tip: Use the case-proven results to better determine what specific mLearning solutions are a fit for both your organization and employee pool and develop a cost-risk-impact equation applicable to your organization’s niche and size.
In closing, you can see that the benefits of mLearning are likely to serve your organization and its employees well, but that you’ll also have to keep a number of potential complications in mind for mLearning to be a successful asset to your employee learning strategy.
Contact the Designing Digitally team today to talk more about the benefits that mLearning solutions can specifically bring to your organization’s table.