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Why m-learning needs to be in a company L&D strategy

Everyone around us has been bitten by the mobile bug. The world has more mobile devices than it has people. From corporate CEOs, managers and fearless entrepreneurs, to busy-bee knowledge-based employees and agricultural or industrial workers, everyone seems to own one or more mobile devices — and use them while at work.

With growing figures for smartphones ownership in the US, the digital-savvy younger generations joining the workforce, time constraints, and shrinking training budgets, instructional designers need to adapt, and make efforts to provide a total mobile user experience for their employees.

It’s easy to assume that mobile learning — or m-learning — will soon take over the workplace.

Companies of all shapes and sizes just can’t afford to ignore m-learning. Whenever modern employees encounter a problem at work, more often than not, they turn to their pockets to find the solution. Smartphones may have trivial usage, like chit-chatting, online shopping, or entertainment, but they can also be very useful in more serious situations.

The use of mobile devices at work shifts the perspective from training delivery to the learner’s needs. In other words...

M-learning supports the learner-centered approach to instruction

According to The Consumer Learner at Work Report by Towards Maturity, 2 in 3 employees find accessing learning from a mobile device essential or very important for successful training.

Being able to access training materials on their smartphones or tablets only improves employees’ efficiency and contributes to a great learning experience. Mobile devices can support all styles of learning: reading text, watching videos, listening to audio files, researching online and even collaborating with others. This almost always equals a boost in their motivation, which leads to higher productivity levels.

Having control over the learning process makes employees more willing to attend the training session, and more motivated to finish it.

Although some organizations still consider the use of mobile devices at work a distraction, there are a few reasons why they should consider using mobile technology to enhance their training program:

M-learning goes hand in hand with just-in-time learning. Mobile devices are the perfect tools for learning at the point of need. A piece of information is most valuable when it’s available at the right time. Not three month before, not half an hour later.

Being able to access training materials whenever and wherever is both convenient for employees and efficient for the business they’re working for. With a quick search on their mobile devices, they can get to that piece of information in an instant. It’s literally at their fingertips. They can therefore apply the new knowledge immediately, tackle all their tasks, and become better performers.

Mobile content is by definition bite-sized. The human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish. I’m serious. Since the workplace is full of interruptions, employees need to divide and conquer their workload — and their training sessions. This is a need, not a desire.

People learn better through smaller chunks of content over a longer period of time than through a big training program once a year. Since mobile devices have smaller screen sizes than laptops and desktop computers, the mobile content must adapt. Instructional designers break learning content into smaller modules in order to meet these requirements. This way, they offer the learners the best user experience, and increase their retention rates.

Mobile learning is always on. The mobile worker needs instant access to information and uses more than one device during the day in order to always stay connected. Mobile devices are synonymous to anytime, anywhere, anything.

A significant benefit of mobile learning at work is that all the small periods of time — which would be dead time otherwise — can be used in a constructive manner to learn. During a train ride, while waiting in line somewhere, when travelling to see a client, or during weekends, employees turn to their smartphones and tablets. Who says they can’t or won’t use that time for going through one of your bite-size modules?

Just-in-time learning, bite-sized learning, and anytime-anywhere learning are all faces of the same dice: the learner-centered approach to instruction. And m-learning supports a great deal of it.

Thinking about giving m-learning a chance?

With all this in mind, companies need to find solutions to leverage technology to their advantage. One option is to go for a learning management system with responsive design and mobile apps available. Whether existing training content needs to be transformed, or new content needs to created from scratch to suit m-learning, modern LMSs come with all sorts of features and tools that support employees’ learning process on mobile devices.

For one thing, they usually make use of HTML5, which is at the basis of a responsive design. Developers build it once and it will work on any smartphone or tablet without any later tweaks. As an added bonus, HTML5 is perfect for training content that needs to be constantly revised, changed, and updated, and who doesn’t need that in this knowledge-based economy we are living?

What’s more, LMSs can also develop a mobile app for their product. The app can obviously be used only through mobile devices. Learners don’t need to be connected to the internet when using the app, but they can access all the training materials they need, when they need to.

M-learning gives more power to employees. Having more control over their learning process and how to access learning materials makes employees more willing to attend any training session and be more motivated to finish it. Knowledge employees are powerful employees. And powerful employees means powerful companies.

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