Ever since we swapped our flip phones for smartphones, the way we consume content has changed.
Now, we’re sold things by social media influencers instead of billboard ads, learn by listening to podcasts instead of sitting in classrooms, and read the news on our phones during our morning commute rather than flipping through a physical newspaper. Such is the power of mobile technology, internet connectivity, mobile applications, and multimedia experiences.
Millennials, who now occupy the largest segment of the workforce in North America, can’t put their phones down. They’re virtually glued to them. (See chart below for proof.)
It didn’t take long for L&D pros to realize that creating a learning environment on mobile devices would replicate how their learners consume content outside of work, and increase engagement. As a result, mobile learning, or m-learning, has become an increasingly relevant component of all e-learning programs, and learning management systems (LMSs) in general.
- The definition of mobile learning
- Advantages of mobile learning in the workplace
- Optimizing e-learning content for mobile platforms
- The bottom line
The definition of mobile learning
Mobile learning is defined as a way to access learning resources and content from any mobile device. Learners have access to learning materials and learning support anywhere and any time, unlike enterprise learning that is office-based.
Mobile learning helps with employee training by bringing learning into the flow of work and providing real-time access to learning resources they need to do their jobs. So, for example, if an employee in the field has a question or needs help completing a task, all they have to do is reach for their mobile device to get the answers and assistance they need.
Social learning platforms can also be made mobile-ready, enabling learners to reach out to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and colleagues when they need support.
With 64% of learners saying that accessing their training content from a mobile device is essential, it looks like mobile learning is here to stay.
Advantages of mobile learning in the workplace
Here are three key reasons mobility is the new reality in e-learning.
1. The device is already in their hands
If learners can use their devices to improve job-related knowledge as they are on the field, at their jobs, they will. So why not try leveraging the devices they hold in their hands to facilitate that kind of knowledge transfer?
We used to view all learning opportunities as very separate experiences, but e-learning and mobile devices have changed all that. For example, with the right enterprise learning technologies, you can transform the traditional learning experience into a modern, mobile learning experience. Mobile learning apps bring the information users need to their fingertips, and can even deliver real-time notifications to keep remote employees up to date. 71% of Millennials say they connect more with mobile learning activities than L&D activities delivered via traditional computing devices, like desktop and laptops, or formal methods.
2. Knowledge is community-based
With the right enterprise learning solution and mobile learning program, job-related knowledge isn’t limited to what is prescriptive, according to the administrators of a learning program. It’s more collaborative. Learners have access to the experiences, knowledge, and insight that accomplished learners in their very field have been exposed to, and they can access this community-driven knowledge right at the point of need.
3. Offline is online
It used to be so hard to reconcile offline data with online, synchronized data, but as best-in-class enterprise learning solutions providers continue to realize, offline is the new online, and we need offline data to sync effortlessly with online data.
This is becoming an increasing reality with progressive LMS providers or modern learning platforms, and it should be a key consideration in investing in any new provider today.
For example, there are many industries where offline functionality is a part of doing business. An offshore rig or a shipping fleet, for obvious reasons, cannot be “connected” for a period of their operations. As a result, if they desire optimal learning conditions, they need to ensure offline learning is synced with online learning.
Optimizing e-learning content for mobile platforms
The relationship we have with our smartphones is rooted in the countless everyday interactions we have with our devices (how it feels in our hands, the way we can customize certain settings to our exact liking), but these interactions happen in short bursts. In fact, the average person looks at their phone more than 80 times a day, according to a report by Asurion. That’s 5 times an hour, or every 12 minutes.
In order to make any product mobile-ready, it’s necessary to consider micro-use applications that can be completed with a few taps to mimic the behaviors we’re used to completing with our phones.
Almost all types of e-learning content you develop can be viewed on mobile devices. To create a strong user experience you need to make sure that the content is ready and optimized for this possibility.
Here are some things to consider:
- Compatibility: All videos on your webpages, SCORM, and TinCan should be optimized for mobile devices. Just because they are reproduced correctly by your computer’s browser does not guarantee that they will work properly on mobile devices.
- Ease of use: Instead of forcing people to click on multiple pages, which can be difficult on mobile devices, make mobile learning content scrollable so they don’t have to leave a page to interact with as much content and as many options as possible.
- Impact: Use high quality images and edit them carefully to maximize detail with special consideration given to sizing specifications, even when they shrink to fit the smaller screen.
- User experience: All buttons on the screen should be easy for mobile users to use. Paradoxically, it often happens that users with big fingers have trouble handling smaller devices. For reasons like this, it’s a good idea to try to reduce the number of clicks necessary to complete an action: focus on one action at a time, removing unnecessary screen changes or clicks. Take a cost-per-click approach from your average digital marketer – clicks cost you money!
- Device type: Choose interactions carefully—not all the actions you do naturally on a PC are as simple on a smartphone. So keep screen size in mind. For example drag-and-drop operations can quickly become a nightmare on a smaller touch screen.
- Responsiveness: Use a responsive template for everything, including emails. This will guarantee you provide the best possible viewing experience on both desktop and mobile devices.
- Shortness of content: Do not use long paragraphs. Remember that people who use mobile devices are often on the go, so they may be disoriented by long paragraphs. Another good idea is to break up larger text blocks with images.
- Engagement: “Bite-size” microlearning content is the best solution. (It can also help with knowledge retention.) Data based on the analysis of millions of study sessions show that the average duration of the session on mobile phones is 10 minutes. And paradoxically, a user is more inclined to complete a course divided into 20 pills of 2 minutes each rather than a monolithic lesson of 40 minutes. A great approach is to present a concept in individualized pills.
- Content indexing: Simplify the way content is formatted so that the most valuable information is easiest to find. Use clear headings, bulleted lists, and images and icons to attract attention.
The bottom line
As we move into a mobile-first world, all aspects of our lives will increasingly be based around our mobile devices and learning is no different—learning on the go with mobile learning is here to stay.
Google has now prioritized mobile website pages over desktop pages, and will rank your website based on whether or not your site is optimized for mobile. Similarly, mobile learning content will be looked at by your learners with just as much scrutiny.
Make sure that you adapt your learning strategy to include m-learning content and create specific courses that will compliment mobile devices.
If you want some advice on how you can optimize your mobile strategy and test drive our Docebo whitelabled mobile app, get in touch with our team!