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mobile learning

The good people at the eLearning Guild have been hard at work on a 27-page report regarding the state of mobile eLearning and where it’s headed. This white paper proposal, titled “Harnessing the Mobile Storm: The Power and Potential of Mobile Learning“, has many valuable insights into the changing face of the learning and development landscape, coming from experienced minds who know their way around the industry.

We’ve gained some interesting knowledge from the paper and wanted to tease a few tidbits we found particularly fascinating.

Accelerating growth of technology

Observations show that new technologies are being adopted by the public at rates unprecedented at the dawn of the industrial age. The radio was invented in 1895, but took 35 years before reaching widespread adoption. Compare this to the television which took 13 years, the internet with 4 years, Facebook at 3.5 years, and—as eLearning Guild points out—the “Draw Something” smartphone game which took only 50 days to gain widespread adoption.

With such accelerated growth, it’s no wonder that eLearning is following suit, with increasing opportunities for mobile learning to inject itself into our daily workflow. The simple truth of things is that a lot of us aren’t glued to desktop computers all day. We are constantly on the move, in contact, working, moving, going, doing. In the same way, we should always be learning and improving our knowledge and skill sets with mobile training. Now that we always have a lifeline to our colleagues and a means of doing some kind of work at all times, shouldn’t we be able to get training on-the-go as well?

Contextual learning

A recent blog of ours discussed Geolocation, a means of changing up aesthetic, content, or even coding based on the geographic location of the user’s device. The same functionality is also available for other contextual conditions. Our mobile devices are already capable of knowing so much about us: who we are, what our roles are, where we’ve been, where we are in relationship to our colleagues, our schedules and more. Using this info, we could retune our mobile learning to reflect our current situations. Perhaps you are at a particular job site that requires different safety measures than what you’re currently trained on. Your proximity to that location might give you access to certain training modules to keep you up to speed. Maybe your task list includes something you haven’t been trained in. Such an item in your agenda could bring up the relevant courses. The contextual smartness of mobile technology can offer new ways of sharing knowledge in an efficient manner.

Get in, get out

Have you ever attempted basic repairs or maintenance on your car, only to find you were a little out of your league attempting such a task? In such a case it’s very probable that you whipped out your phone and looked for video of someone performing the same task. Once you have what you need, you put the phone down and try again. You know the basics of how a car works, so you only need to brush up on how to change your oil, not an entire course on the intricacies of auto-mechanics. Mobile eLearning allows for a very similar experience on the job. Studies show that people will usually spend around 5-7 minutes on mobile eLearning, whereas a formal sit-down session of eLearning at the desktop computer can last from about 20-30 minutes. This is good news, because the segmenting principle suggests we ought to break our training down into manageable bite-size chunks, which can be consumed by the user at their own pace. That means that the individual 5-minute sections can comprise a larger course for when learners sit down at a personal computer, or they can be searchable snippets on mobile devices, where the learner can get in, get what they need, and get out.

You can read the report yourself to go more in-depth on these and many other principles. Give it a look!

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