According to a 2019 survey by Common Sense, over 50% of children in the U.S. own a smartphone by the age of 11, while a whopping 97% of Americans own a cellphone. Younger generations are adopting technology and using mobile devices at an earlier age than ever before. Many of these digital natives will enter the workforce having used a smartphone to solve day-to-day issues for the bulk of their lives.
Now is the time for organizations to implement mobile learning alongside their existing learning technologies to better prepare for a technology-driven generation. Here are five benefits of implementing mobile learning programs into your current learning and development (L&D) objectives.
Learning Wherever, Whenever
A core strength of mobile learning is the always-on possibility of access to training. Traditional learning methods like instructor-led training (ILT) or virtual instructor-led training (VILT) are beholden to rigid structures of when and where. Mobile learning is not meant as a one-to-one replacement for these methods, but rather as a complement to enrich the value and engagement of your learning initiatives.
The convenience of mobile learning frees the learner to access training in the moment of need or at an opportune time. This allows learners to access training according to their schedule, and even learn on the go (e.g., while riding a bus or waiting at an appointment). Additionally, it brings learning to places and conditions that were previously unlikely. Just as a job site can be anywhere, so can learning opportunities.
Optimized for Mobile
Accessing learning materials from a mobile device comes with both opportunities and challenges. For instance, consuming video content on a cellphone or a tablet is often more engaging for the learner than consuming it on a computer screen or television, because the viewer is likely holding the device and wearing headphones. Instructional designers and learning professionals should be mindful of the visual limitation of the screen and optimize graphics for a reduced size. Also, the effectiveness of requiring knowledge assessments/recap quizzes may be reduced in this format. Some learners may prefer to access reference materials via their mobile device instead of consuming video content. This is another area where optimizing for readability and access can make or break the value of the mobile learning.
Higher Completion Rates and Higher Retention Rates
Push Notifications can provide a nudge to learners when deadlines are approaching. This is an efficient way to inform learners when there is assigned learning or optional training available, as well as any action items. Having this feature can help drive both completion and retention rates. If the required training is possible to complete via a mobile device, adding a push notification reduces the barrier to entry by another step.
Microlearning has been a buzzword in the L&D space for years. Mobile learning is a great venue for this type of learning due to nature of why learners tend to engage with it. Oftentimes, the learner will arrive at a short-form lesson such as a tutorial on YouTube or from a learning content library, in the moment of need, to complete their day-to-day tasks. In a normal work day, when a scenario like this occurs, it might not be feasible to halt and consume an hours long, exhaustive course on the subject in question. Breaking up learning content into “bite-sized” pieces (also called “chunks” or “micro” learning snacks) helps make the material easier to absorb and retain.
In cognitive psychology, there is a term called “chunking,” were bigger pieces of information are broken and grouped to make it easier to digest. Learners are able to hack the limits of our memory by simplifying complex information, decompressing it, and then putting it back together to understand it in their own way. This makes it easier for learners to both recall information and apply it.
A Cost-effective Solution
A mobile learning study from 2016 found that, “The smartphone users completed courses an average of 45 percent faster than those who took the modules on their computers. The test scores were also equivalent for the two groups, proving that instructional effectiveness is not impaired when training is delivered to mobile devices.” The research itself proves that mobile learning promotes better learning and time efficiency while maintaining quality.
Mobile learning is also rapidly expanding into video assessments and coaching for skills development. Technology vendors are stepping up to help learning leaders perform assessments virtually, where they have been traditionally conducted in person. This allows managers to perform assessments for remote employees and at scale.
Planning For The Road Ahead
Mobile learning will only continue to evolve and adapt to the technological advances of eLearning. Organizations will need to adopt mobile learning into their systems to improve efficiency and effectiveness. While mobile learning may never be a standalone or complete replacement for a well-rounded learning program, ignoring the definite advantages it can offer is ill advised.
Learners clearly are looking for ways to access training from their mobile devices, and learning leaders can help them find it: Now is the time to start looking for ways to offer learners more options.