Mobile Learning is Calling – Are You Answering?
Many companies today are challenged by decreased opportunities for formal training, the need for constantly updated info and decreased training resources. Mobile learning addresses those challenges head on, offering access to information during downtime and on-demand learning that can be accessed anywhere, at the exact time of need.
If you’re not implementing some sort of mobile learning strategy, now is the time to start. Consider this:
- We check our smartphones an average of 150 times a day
- 29% of Americans own a mobile tablet or e-reader device
- 50% of Training and Development professionals use an iPad or tablet at work
- 1 in 3 minutes spent online is now spent beyond the PC
Mobile learning is a rapidly evolving landscape. Here is a brief summary of the top trends:
1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
More and more companies are allowing—or even requiring—their employees to use personal devices for job duties, instead of company-issued devices. When Cisco surveyed office workers internationally, 66% reported that they expect IT to allow them to use any device to access corporate networks, applications and information.
2. Mobile First
An increasing portion of Internet traffic comes from mobile. Today, learners turn first to their tablets or smartphones when they have a question or need to check a fact. Designers and instructors need to recognize this and put mobile first in development and planning. The mobile first attitude has spurred the growth of responsive web design and the need for mobile-friendly eLearning courses that echo the principles of responsive design.
Responsive web design aims to craft sites that provide an optimal viewing experience across all devices, computer to tablet to smartphone. Responsively designed sites adapt their layout to the viewing environment. This requires fluid, proportion-based grids, flexible images and CSS media queries. Page elements are sized in relative units like percentages, rather than absolute units like pixels or points. Responsive design has been described as the future of web publishing. It allows you to author one piece of content that is compatible with many devices.
To learn more about mobile first and flexible, responsive web design, visit Smashing Magazine and A List Apart, both of which feature many articles and resources focused on responsive design. If you’re designing eLearning for mobile, look for an authoring tool that publishes to HTML5, like Lectora® eLearning software.
3. Cloud Computing
Everyone is moving data to the cloud. Big companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft are all pushing cloud computing, and users are embracing it—with good reason. Cloud computing is inexpensive, simple to use and mobile-friendly. Information in the cloud, from learning tools to team project plans, can be accessed anywhere, anytime and on any mobile device. You can even develop eLearning in the cloud with tools like Lectora Online. Lectora Online is a web-based, collaborative eLearning tool that makes it possible to create, review and collaborate with team members anywhere, at any time and all in the cloud.
4. Location-based Technology
Technology now allows for seamless integration with many different location-based services. Several colleges and universities are taking advantage of smartphone GPS technologies to offer high-tech, self-guided campus tours. Businesses and organizations have a lot of opportunities to use location-based technology to greatly enrich the patron experience or even the corporate training experience.
5. Performance Support in the Workplace
Learners are used to being connected no matter where they are, so why shouldn’t they be able to learn the same way? In Ovum’s 2013 survey on BYOD, 62% of employees stated that having access to corporate data outside working hours make them more productive. It’s becoming clear that in our connected culture employees want to be able to work, learn and study whenever and wherever they desire. In Cisco’s study, 66% of workers said they would take a job with less pay and more flexibility in device usage, access to social media and mobility than a higher paying job without such flexibility. Because of this, mobile learning is ideal for performance support. Employees can access information as they need it, if they encounter a situation with which they aren’t familiar or if they need to review a technique or process on-the-go.
6. Tin Can API
Another new development in eLearning and mobile learning is Tin Can API, billed as the next evolution of SCORM. It’s based on the idea that learning can happen anywhere, anytime and in many forms that SCORM cannot currently track. The Tin Can API records all these learning activities in a Learning Record Store (LRS). An LRS can exist on its own or inside a Learning Management System. Tin Can offers a great way to track mobile learning and informal learning, so it’s something to be aware of as more and more eLearning tools begin to support Tin Can API. Lectora eLearning authoring tools already support Tin Can.
How to Implement a Mobile Learning Strategy
Step 1: Content conversion
Many of us cling to the mindset of training as an event—a big, formal all-day affair. That certainly still has its place, but it’s not what mobile learning is meant for. In the book Learning on Demand, eLearning expert Reuben Tozman encourages developers not to build events, but to “build fluid content.” mLearning is NOT just eLearning on a mobile device. It’s an entirely different experience. This may take some reimagining and redesigning of your existing eLearning content and strategy, but the end result of compelling, interactive mLearning content will attract even more learners. For more tips on transitioning traditional eLearning courses to mLearning courses, check out the blog, Make Your Course Mobile! Convert Your Desktop eLearning Course to iPad.
Step 2: Device selection/standardization
Whether you opt for a BYOD policy or choose to provide devices for your employees, you need to have a specific plan and usage guidelines outlined, including items like who will pay for data usage and where to turn for device support. This will save you from a future headache!
Each strategy has pros and cons. BYOD is extremely popular right now, although it’s often easier to protect sensitive data on a standard company-issued device. You may want to talk to your IT department before making a decision.
And don’t forget about tablets. Many BYOD policies focus on smartphones, but tablets have achieved a level of adoption in three years that it took smartphones nearly a decade to reach. These popular and useful devices should be included in any device guidelines you create.
Step 3: Start it off right
The key to a successful mobile learning strategy is to gain strong stakeholder support before rollout. You want your mobile learning course to deliver a strong first impression as being value-packed and full of useful information. If your learners see that top executives are on board, they’ll be more on board.
Looking for more information? Check out our mLearning resources, including a great how to guide for designing for an iPad, or some of our other eLearning whitepapers for more great eLearning knowledge and tips.
Also view Lectora eLearning software to learn more about how you can create incredible online training courses with Lectora V12.