The mobile learning ground swell doesn’t appear to be slowing down and is increasingly becoming the preferred mode of learning in a number of industries. A recent survey by Brandon Hall Group found that 73% of organisations are now actively involved in mobile learning of one sort or another, and 87% planned to increase mLearning use within the following year.

At the core of mLearning’s popularity is our love of technology – it’s untethered and can be done anytime and anywhere.  Most people are already using their own devices to find research information (or to complete informal learning).

PewResearch have found that 86% of smartphone owners (or around o 62% of the entire adult population) have used their phones in the previous 30 days to find ‘Just in Time’ information. 18-29 year olds are even more likely to have used a mobile device for informal JIT research or informal learning of some type.

It’s no wonder that most employees are warming to mLearning – besides, who really wants to spend more time at their desk when training content could be absorbed on the bus, or while waiting for a train on the way home?

It might seem obvious that this different mode of consumption also requires a completely different approach to instructional design, graphic and user experience design, but these approaches that are often overlooked. In many cases, mobile Learning fails to capitlise on the numerous benefit this method of training delivery has to offer.

Commonly, mLearning is used as a replacement for other options, and not as a way to supplement or reinforcement for learning. Formal and informal or ‘on demand’ learning can also blended to contextualise ideas, and provide better retention of learning concepts. When done well, mobile learning should be less about comprehension and retention, and more about convenient access to training when it’s needed (or when it will have the most impact).

For example, a new workplace initiative might be delivered during working hours via eLearning or traditional methods to explain complex procedures or policies. mLearning could then be used as a way to help staff retain what they’ve learned, engaging them in further learning with bite sized modules, or refresher quizzes to test knowledge. Use of ‘micro-learning’ modules can used to to boost employee performance at regular intervals, and can help HR teams reach the entire organisation in spades.

To unlock all of the benefits of mobile learning, performance support teams and learning designers need to be able to effectively transition learning objectives and content to match the context of the delivery methods that are available.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a rapid authoring tool to quickly create mobile friendly courses and share them to staff via email, or comms tool, without involving an IT department or Learning management system. With this in mind, here are…

10 practical tips you can use to boost the effectiveness of your mLearning

  • Establish the need for mLearning and outline what you want to achieve and why you think it’s a good idea before you get started – your organisation has to be onboard if you want your programs to be successful.
  • Start by migrating legacy courses – converting content is much easier than designing a new program from scratch. It will also help provide a baseline for for any future development.
  • Ensure that all of your training content is relevant, engaging and accessible on the devices it will be used on. Don’t try and shoehorn all of your content on a topic into one course.
  • People have short attention spans when using smaller screens so chunk your training content into 3-10 minutes micro-lessons.
  • Use interactive elements interspersed with other content to make mLearning content engaging.
  • Keep any videos short – 2-3 minutes max!
  • Implement a consistent format and design approach that learners can become familiar with – you don’t want your employees second guessing what they are doing every time they open up a new learning module.
  • Use device agnostic technology to support BYOD, flexibility and choice of device to access learning – i.e. don’t use Flash or any sort of technology that requires an installable player to view mobile content.
  • Create solutions that are designed in a way where learners don’t feel like they have sat through what they know as eLearning – if you feel yourself switching off when you’re developing the content it’s likely your employees will do the same.
  • If possible, use gamification elements like timers, badges or points to make your training feel more at home on a mobile. If you don’t have the resources to add these sort of elements to your mLearning – do whatever you can to make it fun. Use humour and feedback as way to engage people in what they are learning.