Magazine article Talent Development

Mobile Learning 101

Magazine article Talent Development

Mobile Learning 101

Article excerpt

"Just click the HTML5 box to convert all of your e-learning courses to mobile learning." Sound familiar? With the boom in using mobile devices as a tool for learning, many of the software companies are marketing a one-click solution for your mobile learning needs. But is it really that simple?

To be fair, you can create great mobile learning using rapid development tools. However, there is more to it than clicking a "magic HMTL5 box." In fact, mobile learning doesn't even have to involve HTML5 at all. If mobile learning is leveraging a mobile infrastructure to enable folks to learn wherever they are, then a mobile learning solution could be anything from a short video to an interactive e-book.

To get a good handle on mobile learning, it is wise to explore more than HTML5. Are there other formats that work well on multiple devices? How will learners access the information--especially when everyone has a different type of device? Why do they need access to this information on a mobile device at all? Will we be able to develop mobile learning in-house or do we need to look for a supplier? What tools will we need to get started? What does mobile learning even look like?

Focus on design

When considering mobile learning, there is more involved than buying user-friendly tools. It is great to be tech-savvy and to figure out how to use rapid development software. However, where we really need to focus is on doing a better job of designing the project upfront. Spend far more time here than you do in development.

Many instructional designers have been (often unknowingly) stuck in a traditional, classroom facilitation mindset. We may be quick to apply the same methodology in the same way, with little or no adaptation for the way technology has changed how we access information. This crept into our e-learning courses despite the opportunity we had to change the way we interacted with our learners.

Enter mobile devices--an extension of the way that individuals interact with the world. Your smartphone can show pictures of your family, places you go, what you eat, and where you bank (and that's before opening any apps).

What does this mean to us when we are designing mobile learning? We need to think about not only how our audience will interact with what we build, but why.

Throw away the "click next to continues," roll-over captions, and learning objective slides (if you haven't already). Think about how you can break down the content into manageable, on-demand chunks. To quote Chad Udell, managing director of Float Mobile Learning, "e-learning for mobile is more about instructional design, whereas true m-learning is more about information design."

How do you develop the skills needed to successfully design mobile learning? There are tons of resources and workshops that can help you build a good foundation. Look for blogs and examples from industry experts. If you are looking for a more hands-on option, hire a consultant to help you define your mobile strategy and walk you through a pilot project.

Your personal experiences also are useful. What have been your best Google search experiences? Which YouTube videos are most helpful? Do you have favorite apps that you can use as a model for your project?

Tools

Selecting the best tool (or combination of tools) for mobile learning projects can be painful for many organizations. Often there is one big question: "Do we need to purchase new software or can we use what we already have?"

There are many new rapid development tools that claim to be your mobile learning savior. Some tools may be easier to use than others, and some more or less expensive, but there is no one-stop shop for mobile learning.

Put some time into researching different tools. Use free trial periods. You will limit yourself by trying to find just one program that fits all of your needs. Save time and money by using multiple programs that are individually best suited for a specific purpose. …

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