Whilst individuals and organisations rush towards deploying mobile learning, it’s valuable to pause to ask what value it adds. Clearly there is a glitz factor, with mobile learning being very much in fashion, but where does it really deliver change? How is it used to tackle questions of organisational change, skills training and knowledge transfer? In essence, is it doing anything more than just delivering existing content onto your smartphone?
The answer, where we stand currently, is mixed. The majority of mobile solutions tend to be simple ports of e-learning onto the new platform. Very few organisations are trying new things, although we are starting to see the arrival of more ‘point of sale’ material and direct, client interacting Apps, such as the menu ordering systems and checkout iPads seen In some retailers and restaurants.
The most effective mobile Learning solutions will be ones that are clean and effective. People are becoming used to the slick experience of games and social Apps, environments where speed of access and interactivity are key. We need to mirror this in the design and delivery of training solutions too.
Superfluous screens and clicks will be tolerated less with mobile, which is inherently a form factor that demands speed and ease. Intuitive design is important, something that you can pick up in seconds, not minutes and not with pages of text to explain it.
And indeed, not much text at all, because it’s really not ideal with such a wide range of screen sizes: or if there is text, it should be as legible and easy to read as an email. Not too much clutter.
But how can mobile learning actually add value? What are the techniques that can be used? Well, one method is to use it to support the extension of the learning experience over time. We’ve seen a move from simple, classroom based experiences, through to e-learning and blended learning ones, where people learn more before and after the event, but there is more to be done here. Change develops and is effected over time. Mobile devices are good at being with us over time, supporting the change journey, so this is a good place to start
Thinking about how the training Apps can tie in with diary and calendar functions, to-do and reminder lists: these are ways that we can start to consider learner behaviours around charting progress and development over time.
Our mindset needs to be around the ways that the smartphone or iPad can accompany us on the learning journey, facilitating the changes, supporting the learner and adding instant access to reference and ‘just in time’ materials.