Mobile learning – Is it just a fad?
As you would expect mobile learning or mlearning, is learning that takes place on mobile devices and platforms. However, as usual with elearning terminology, it’s not quite as simple as that.
There’s a common misconception that mobile learning is just learning displayed on a mobile device. As that statement is somewhat true, we suggest that It’s better to think of mobile learning as a more user-focused learning tool than that simple definition used above. It is true however that mobile learning does consist on mostly mobiles, tablets and laptops due to the mobility of the devices.
For Fenturi, mobile learning means that the learner can learn at anytime and anywhere. The learning itself is mobile, it’s not defined by the technology being used, its more about the accessibility of learning.
The platform in which the learning is done will depend on what is accessible at the chosen time, as the learning itself is informal and the learner is in control. To summarise in levels of importance, the mobility of the learner comes first and then the interaction with the portable technology device comes second.
At Fenturi, we always focus on leaner led content, meaning that we put the learner and their experience first when designing a course. Mobile learning may not necessarily mean a better experience as it depends on the course/situation. For example, desktop learning can be more detailed and interactive and on the other hand, mobile learning can be more personalised and flexible. It’s about choosing what best fits the course and how can we make that experience the best for the learner.
Benefits of mobile learning
We see it as convenience is key when it comes to mobile learning. The learner is in control of the where and when this flexibility can Improve the learner’s experience. In some workplace scenarios, this flexibility is very helpful as you can access the digital learning for guidance when needed.
The devices and platforms are ubiquitous so that the learning itself can be undertaken in everyday life at the convenience of the learner. The flexibility that comes with mobile learning will help the learner stick with the learning rather than lose interest.
The digital landscape is changing how we are consuming information. The devices we use, the format in which the information is displayed and the amount of information we can digest at one time have all changed. We are all becoming symbiotic with our computer tools.
As humans we are forgetful, there is the phase called ‘digital amnesia’ which means that because of the dependency on technology we no longer need to remember certain things*. The common example is that of remembering phone numbers, previously before the digital age, you would have to remember them. These days you have no need, you can just check them on your phone or online.
This isn’t necessary a bad thing because our brains aren’t wasting space remember numbers we don’t need, instead they can replace this unused space and remember more important information or where to source the needed information. However, it does raise the point that technology is changing the way our brains work and as learning providers, we need to be aware of these changes.
As humans, we are forgetful so to have the learning to hand when the user needs it means they can refresh on their knowledge just before the desired task, just like checking your work number on google before you call.
With the rise of smartphones, our attention span has become shorter*. With attention span dropping holding someone’s attention is becoming more difficult. For us, as learners, we need to make the learning engaging and focus on UX and the ease of navigation to not give the user a chance to lose attention.
From this information about media habits, it would be fair to suggest that in the future a percentage of digital learning will become micro mobile learning as it mirrors the way people interact with social media and or mobile apps on their smartphones.
Learning can be split up into multiple micro-learning nuggets, which the users can learn on their terms and their own devices. It’s important to note that instead of solely focusing on making learning shorter, the learner provider needs to create relevant and useful content. If this can be made short, perfect. But we shouldn’t jeopardise the learner’s experience for the notion of some providing some buzzword solutions for clients. It’s important to be honest in our recommendations and always put the learner first.
Audio, video, image and games
Mobile learning is inherently dynamic. The combination of audio, video, image and games creates an engaging experience for the learner and allows us as digital learning providers to create content which engaging on the mobile device. Audio, video, image and games are all available on desktop, but its more about how the different approach we take with each version.
The interactive, accessibility and fast-paced nature of mobile learning matches that of daily consumption, so the user is learning in an environment they are familiar with and mirrors other mobile friendly apps they used in daily life, which gives us room to be creative with the learning solution’s we create.
Fenturi’s multi-device examples
As you can see from the trailers, even though each course has the same content they are both very different. For the mobile learning experience, video takes the front seat. There is less onscreen interactions on the mobile version compared to the desktop version. Each version has it’s positives and negatives depending on the situation. Sometimes providing both courses would best fit the clients and all their learners needs.
We can’t write an article on mobile learning and not discuss the current restrictions it has in the industry. The two main restrictions we work around daily are the size of the device and the learning software available to us as learning providers.
Currently, there are three sizes of screens; desktop, tablet and mobile. Due to the variability in the size of the screens, we must design each course for each device. From the learner’s perspective, they get a fully customised course on all devices, however, for the client, this does add an increased cost.
Mobile learning is preferable for all the reasons we’ve listed. However, usually the learning experience is better on desktop due to the larger screen. There is not always a need for mobile learning, we make sure we ask our clients what the intentions with the course are and if mobile learning will benefit the learner’s experience.
Whether it’s desktop or mobile, it’s entirely dependent on the subject matter and the audience, therefore we deal with it by a case by case basis making sure we provide the best solution for the client and the end-user.
Once we have confirmed that the course would benefit from a mobile approach, we will decide if a desktop version is needed alongside. It’s not one size fits all, we customise so the user has the best experience possible no matter what device they are on.
Due to the size of the screen, we can’t implement as many and as intricate interactions on a mobile compared to a desktop. However, this does allow us to use our experiences and creative ideas to come up with other ways to keep the learner engaged.
Mobile learning puts the learning in the user’s hands, at a convenience which is perfect for them. They are the ones in control, it’s the promotion of anytime, anywhere learning or it has also been called just-in-time learning.
This type of learning is a disruptive change that will shape the future of digital learning. If you are a company adopting a digital-first approach to elearning, you are providing learning solutions that will captivate and engage your employees using methods they are already familiar with. The world is changing, our working practices need to adapt. Mobile learning is not just a fad, it’s one of these adaptions.
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