If you're a learning professional and thinking mobile learning is the next big thing, you are mistaken. Mobile, or M Learning as it is commonly referred to, IS the next big thing!
Unless you have been under a rock, (quite obviously with no access to 3G or wifi!) you will be very aware that the use of smart devices is increasing. As the Bob Dylan song goes, 'The Times They Are a-Changin'. The days where learning programmes were designed and built for a 1024 x 768 desktop computer and laptop are over and times they have most certainly changed.
Startlingly, IT giant, Cisco recently reported that mobile devices are soon to overtake the total number of humans on the planet; a first for technology. Anyone who is unsure about the importance of mobile, this latest stat should help convince you.
Although mobile learning has been a growing trend for quite some time now, it looked set to make a real impact in the way that E-Learning was delivered. However, many organisations have been slow to uptake mobile learning on a large-scale. Having said that however, mobile learning has started to come into its own and increase as more and more people use their own devises.
With the surge in mobile technology, it has become easier and quicker to connect to the internet, almost anywhere. As a result and what will undoubtedly make a big impact amongst L&D departments is; expectation. Just like an Amazon prime account, users now expect to access knowledge instantly and get the information that they need, and all done simply in the palm of their hand and at the touch of a button.
So given this new expectancy, what real impact will mobile learning have on learning and development in organisations?
At Aurion Learning, we have noticed a considerable increase in demand for HTML 5 compatible learning resources. Reassuringly, L&D departments are realising that users are switching from the classroom based 9-5 mentality and are tuning into something akin to a 'starbucks culture' of learning on the go.
We recently attended a Learnovate Seminar in Dublin where Donald H Taylor, Chairman of Learning and Performance Institute spoke about the trends for learning in 2014. Mobile learning was a hot topic of discussion and in particular, the increasing numbers of learners who are starting to take responsibility for their own learning and development. Coincidence or not, this coincides with the increase in mobile technology, with one attendee in particular referring to this trend as 'H Learning' – learning on the hoof! We are not sure if the term will catch on, but there's merit to it and there is certainly no denying that it's hard to ignore the increase of learning on the go using a smart device.
Smartphones and tablets are popular because they are portable and easy to use. These devices help us to connect with others, gather information and provide us with the knowledge that we require. As humans, it is in our nature to communicate and socialise. Access to social media and the creation of digital communities helps to facilitate this need and are a factor in attracting us to using tablets and smart phones more and more. These features have contributed to the widespread adoption of mobile devices and also are what makes them ideal for delivering learning content.
There are two types of learning that are greatly enhanced by mobile devices:
- Social learning – The ability to carry a smartphone or tablet anywhere means that social learning networks seep into everyday life, with instant interactivity and connectivity that enables people all over the world to have meaningful connections centred on collaborative, social learning.
- Informal, self-directed learning – Google searching is just the tip of the iceberg. With websites like TED and Wikipedia to name just a few and the overall availability of information on the internet, it’s now possible to learn virtually any skill or piece of knowledge online. Mobile devices mean time that was formerly wasted commuting or waiting can become time for learning.
However, the potential for mobile learning stretches far beyond just social learning or gathering information from search engines. It is becoming increasingly common for companies and organisations to approach E-Learning providers with plans to create learning programmes and modules that are compatible with a wide range of devices including smartphones and tablets.
Mobile learning gives L & D departments the extra edge by giving learners access to learning content whenever they want. Learners can tap into new information whether they are working from home or on the go. This provides them with more control over their own time and therefore creates flexibility to prioritise as they see fit. Mobile learning means that organisations are able to integrate their L & D strategy more seamlessly into everyday life.
According to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the global workforce is now more mobile than ever and is still continuing to rise with 1.3 billion people predicted to be mobile by 2015. Widespread adoption of mobile devices means that mobile learning is in a good position to become the main method for learning within the workforce.
Whether your organisation has embraced the use of mobile learning fully or not, it is important to note that conversion to mobile learning is not just about transferring reams of information and compliance documents to a format that is compatible with mobile devices. In contrast, in order to achieve learning success and to truly adopt mobile learning, organisations need to refine the information they want people to learn into short, concise points that will be easy to read and memorise when delivered through their smartphones or tablets.