Spotting Mobile Learning Opportunities
It’s almost like a reflex, wanting to keep cell phones and tablets out of the hands of students and employees. These devices are a distraction, some argue, a distraction that takes the focus away from true learning or accomplishments. But what if mobile devices could do just the opposite? What if they could provide teachers and employers with an opportunity to achieve real, engaged learning within their student population or workforce? Below are three categories to explore when considering a switch to mobile learning.
Some of the most common reasons for missed learning opportunities are assumptions. Many assume, for example, that in this age of technology, all people have computer and internet access in their houses. For a large number of students, however, this is not the case. Some students cannot access their online coursework unless they are on campus, or unless they are able to make their way to a public library. Many of these same students, though, do have mobile devices. If students do not have access to technology within their homes, reimagining learning content via mobile may help bridge this digital divide. For employees, who are often busy with not only work but families and other obligations, providing necessary training in a mobile context may boost both motivation and completion rates, since they would be able to access the training in a variety of settings.
If engagement seems to be an issue amongst students or employees, mobile devices may provide a solution here as well. Students, for example, often enjoy interacting with mobile devices and feel a greater connection to this type of technology than other types. Given this already present connection and desire for use, it may be to an instructor’s benefit to harness such an inherent association. For students who lack access to non-mobile technology within their homes, their level of engagement with learning content may also increase if given access to content via mobile devices. Often, these students feel rushed to complete their work in the sporadic moments when they do have access to non-mobile tech. However, given more time to complete their work, their stress may decrease and depth of interaction and understanding may increase. The latter can also be applied to employee engagement. When employees are able to complete virtual training when and where it best suits their needs, their level of engagement may be optimized.
Hand in hand with engagement is the content itself, and more specifically, how it is disseminated to learners. When content is assigned in large portions, retention of knowledge tends to decrease. Further, when content is presented over and over via the same medium (i.e. readings), engagement can also decrease. Mobile learning can and should be used to offer content in smaller, more digestible chunks, making it easier for learners to remember and understand information. Diversifying the mediums in which content is presented can also be accomplished via the use of mobile devices, allowing learners to access everything from e-texts to webinars to streamed videos and audio.
Finding the Right Solution
Whatever the reason that drives an instructor or company towards mobile learning, it is best to find the solution that resonates most closely with identifiable learning objectives. Budget and ROIs should also be considered, both within academia and corporate settings. Ultimately, mobile learning solutions should be as unique to an institution as the learners’ needs are to the individuals who hold them.