Learning trends

mLearning: what are the uses of mobile apps?

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Increasingly, Mobile Learning or mLearning is becoming an integral part of an organization’s learning strategy.

Today, many organizations have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place that recognizes the learners’ demand to choose the device they wish to use for learning.

In this article, I will outline the usage of Mobile Apps for learning. Mobile Apps are one of the delivery formats that offer the additional flexibility of offline viewing of the eLearning course to the learners from their mobile devices. (They need to have an internet access to download the course and then they can view it with/without the internet connection. However, to track their progress through the LMS, they must be connected to the internet as only then can their progress information be passed on to the LMS).

mLearning effectively blends the “anytime-anywhere access” to varied forms of learning delivery. The options available on mobile devices today include formal training, supplements to formal training and specific Performance Support Tools (PSTs).

Where do Mobile Apps find the right fit in today’s mlearning strategy?

According to Dr. Conrad Gottfredson, learners seek support in the “Five Moments of Need”:

Let us see how this model can be used to determine the right fit for Mobile Apps for learning too.

Where do Mobile Apps for learning provide an edge?

If you look at the five moments of learning need, the first two typically map to formal training while the next three map to Performance Support Tools (PSTs). Mobile Apps can be used equally effectively to offer formal training (bite-sized) or supplement formal training.  But this is not all. PSTs (particularly Ready Reckoners, Checklists, Tips, and so on) are designed to be made available to learners within their work-flow. Making them accessible to the learners on their mobile devices encourages them to use it on the job. Hence, PSTs are a great fit for Mobile Apps.

Let us look at these possibilities in further detail through some examples.

For primary mlearning (formal training): They can be used for primary learning provided they are packed as micro-learning nuggets.

Example 1: Parts of Induction programme available as a Mobile App: This is helpful for new employees to get flexibility to read part of the information in offline mode.

As a supplement to formal training

Example 2: A Time Management Gamified App to practice of Time Management exercises.

Performance Support Tools (PSTs): This is where Mobile Apps can be used effectively in several initiatives such as:

Example 3: A Mobile App demonstrating the processes to be followed on the job, as a ready reckoner.

Social Learning: This is an emerging area for usage of Mobile Apps that can encourage collaborative mlearning. Learners can share their inputs and learning experiences and also upload content that can be curated and shared with other learners.

Example 4: An app for reporting suspected violation of compliance

What aspects you should watch out for before initiating Mobile Apps for learning?

As we have seen so far, Mobile Apps can support both informal (including Performance Support) and social learning models. In a bite-sized mode, it can also be used for formal training.