What is mlearning?
Posted on 24th May, 2017 by Amber Gallacher
Mobile learning, also known as mlearning, refers to the use of mobile devices to access educational online learning content. Mobile devices may be relatively new technology but their history stems back 100 years – mobile learning was used a century ago to describe portable wax cylinders that contained language lesson notes. Today’s mlearning typically takes place on a smartphone or a tablet, and is accessed in a web browser or a downloadable app. While mlearning is a form of online learning, its uses and benefits are quite different from traditional elearning. This blog post explores the reasons why mlearning isn’t just an elearning trend; it’s here to stay!
Who uses mlearning?
Mobile learning is beneficial for anyone who has access to a mobile device, which these days is a significant portion of the population. A recent study on smartphone usage concluded that four out of five people in the UK now own a smartphone, a sharp increase from 52% of the population in 2012 to 81% in 2016. Businesses are recognising the huge impact of mobile devices and, in order to keep up with the requirements of tech-savvy, smartphone-enabled modern learners, are incorporating mlearning into their training and development strategies.
What are the possibilities of mlearning?
Mobile devices can host a variety of different multimedia types of learning, giving both organisations and employees the option of choosing learning that suits a variety of preferences. Mobile learning content can consist of:
- Infographics: Factual and straight-to-the-point information presented in a graphic format to keep learners interested is great for on-the-go reading.
- Videos: Learners can develop knowledge and work-based skills by watching how-to tutorials, interviews, and introductions.
- Assessments: Quizzes and assessment banks are a great way for L&D professionals to measure the effectiveness of mobile learning content and discover areas where learning can be improved.
- Games and gamification: The rise of gamification and technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality (VR and AR) have the power to engage learners and provide immersive mobile-friendly educational experiences.
- Communication tools: The demand for more informal learning (where employees discover their own content in their own time and then share their knowledge with colleagues) has led to increased collaboration in the workplace, and mobile devices can enhance social discussion amongst colleagues through forums or chat-based applications.
- Notifications and nudges: Smartphone users will be familiar with their devices constantly updating them through their social media and news feeds – mlearning can take a similar approach by sending learners reminders and nudges to complete courses and stay on track with their training programmes.
What are the benefits of mlearning?
One of the biggest advantages of using a mobile device for learning is that it can take place anywhere. We already know that elearning can reduce the hours employees spend doing training, compared with face-to-face courses. One of the big benefits of mlearning is that it can further reduce time for learners, since a course that might have typically been completed in an office environment can now happen while a learner is on the move. Using a mobile device, employees can participate in training at virtually any location, provided they have an Internet connection or had previously downloaded the learning material onto their smartphone or tablet for offline reading.
Mobile learners can take advantage of just-in-time resources, which are short pieces of relevant training content, accessible to employees at a point of need. Similarly, the growing trend of microlearning, which involves compact, bite-sized chunks of targeted learning, is effective for learning on mobile devices. Smaller, easily accessible resources like microlearning and just-in-time resources are beneficial for busy employees who are low on time, those who travel frequently and remote workers.
2) Increased satisfaction
Another benefit of mlearning is the appeal it has for employees. Employees who train on their personal mobiles are already accustomed to how the device works, so using it to learn is likely to be less daunting than having to familiarise themselves with brand-new software. The touchscreen nature of mobile devices also ensures that mlearning is a more interactive experience by prompting learners to physically engage with the content. Learners that are able to use their own devices to complete work-based training are likely to experience a more personal learning journey, where they have some control over the amount of learning that takes place, and are able to work to their own timeframes.
3) Informal learning
Mobile learning can be used to facilitate collaboration in the workplace through forum-style communication tools, where colleagues can discuss learning and find support from their peers if needed. Mobile learning also encourages employees to use the device to further their learning journey and carry out their own research because they’re just a quick click away from a web search.
LEO specialises in creating tailor-made mlearning solutions to help organisations keep up with the shifts in technology that impact learning and development. If you’re interested in how we can assist you in creating a mobile learning strategy, get in touch with us today.