Learning is Becoming More Mobile & More Social

Designing Digitally


Mobile Devices - Designing Digitally

Try an experiment. Turn off your smartphone, your tablet, e-book readers, and any entertainment devices you might have too. Put them all in a drawer and leave them untouched for, oh, a day. Think you can do it? Twenty-four hours of peace and quiet, with no interruptions? If you’re questioning whether you can actually achieve this feat, you’re not alone. We’ve become so dependent on our devices – but even more so on the connectedness we feel – that it’s actually much harder than it should be to put them down.

As learning professionals, however, this connectedness and full-time access to information offers a key advantage. It is now easier than ever to deliver information and provide resources and training to an on-the-go workforce. Mobile learning is quickly becoming the preferred way for many of today’s workers to access the information they need to perform their jobs.

The benefits of m-Learning are clear – it’s flexible, available, portable and personal. M-Learning can be used to refresh skills, update instructions, and even support or enhance traditional training. Another big advantage is that m-Learning takes place on devices that learners are already comfortable using. It’s these obvious benefits that make m-Learning such an appealing prospect for training designers and corporate L&D professionals.

M-Learning and social collaboration

When we think about it, smart phones are primarily social devices. We use them to call, text, email and conduct social interactions of all types. This makes them especially suited for social collaboration in a training setting. M-Learning thus has the potential to leverage the power of social interaction and social learning by creating communities of learning on our smart devices. As training designers, we need to make the most of this opportunity for connection and collaboration.

One way to promote and encourage social learning within the workforce is to develop courses that use feedback mechanisms and social networking tools. We can also develop specialized forums that allow for the open exchange of ideas, sharing of lessons learned, and recognition of experts in the field of study.

Challenges and opportunities in m-Learning

In spite of the obvious benefit of social learning using mobile devices, implementation of this strategy can be a challenge. Let’s face it, the design of training for mobile consumption is in its infancy. And while there is little doubt that m-Learning has massive potential, the development of training that takes full advantage can be difficult. Some of the specific challenges to implementing an m-Learning program include:

  • Relatively small screen size, requiring special design considerations
  • Multiple platforms, operating systems and application viewers to support
  • Mobile authoring tools not as robust as those for conventional eLearning
  • Interactivity can be limited with mobile devices, and can be hard to standardize
  • Exact ROI measurements can be difficult to obtain with m-Learning
  • Distractions and interruptions can occur more frequently with m-Learning
  • Security of proprietary information can be more challenging

Of course all of these challenges are capable of being overcome. Many of the same hurdles were faced in the initial development and deployment of eLearning programs more than a decade ago. As with any new technology or method, time and further research will play a key role.

Areas where m-Learning holds the most promise

Not all training is conducive to m-Learning delivery. For example, a highly complex operational task may be better presented as simulation-based eLearning presented on a large screen. A training course that requires direct and immediate feedback may be more suited to instructor-led classroom training. Areas that m-Learning can be most effective are in those types of training that can be broken up into small learning modules, or where self-paced learning is desired. Examples of training that meets these criteria include:

  • On-going performance support
  • Blended learning settings
  • Micro-learning programs
  • Simple installations or maintenance training
  • Soft skills training

Here at Designing Digitally, our eLearning and m-Learning developers can help your corporate L&D efforts by designing custom training for your workforce. Today’s learners are extremely adept at mobile communication and social interactions. Allow us to create training that meets them where they are. If you have questions about the latest m-Learning techniques, designs and developments, contact us. We can quickly bring you up to speed on just what m-Learning can do for your workforce.