We all learn a little differently. Unfortunately, meeting the different needs of each learner is pretty much impossible in a classroom setting. After all, instructors are human, too. Since customizing ILT (instructor-led training) to each learner is impossible (so far, at least), instructors often rely on the lecture-based format that we’re all so familiar with. But ILT doesn’t always lend itself well to the learning styles we each possess. In the end, there’s no perfect answer to the learning problem.
As humans, we don’t like uncertainty — we like to have all the answers lined up in neat rows. This means that when a potential answer to the learning problem appears, we often turn to it as the final solution. And in the process, we lose sight of new and different perspectives. Let’s take a step back from the mobile learning hype and run some fact checks.
How mobile stepped up as a learning solution
When the iPhone released, smartphone technology exploded, and people saw the opportunity to learn on their own terms. With the ability to access information from a mobile device, mindset began shifting from conventional learning to a more progressive, learner-centered approach.
Multiple companies and learning industries immediately jumped onto the mobile bandwagon. After all, mobile created a new perspective on personalized learning, complete with gamification and increasingly advanced interactions. Moving mobile could only be better. Right?
Mobile and the everyday learner
The advent of mobile brought learning into the hands of everyone everywhere. As long as someone possesses a mobile device, they have access to learning. People can learn while taking a jog on the treadmill or while commuting to work. Mobile creates the freedom and flexibility to take in information from wherever and whenever people choose.
Mobile and sales education
With mobile established as a flexible option, sales teams quickly jumped on board. Using tablets and smartphones, the reps can access product information, study materials — such as flashcards and mini-quizzes — and interact with the content on a need-to-know basis. This increases speed, consistency, and competency among reps, providing them with the right tools at the right time.
Mobile and consumer-level communication
Mobile introduces the ability to personalize the learning experience to the user’s preferred learning styles. Also, incorporating chat forums and instant messaging into mobile apps creates easy learning between the educator and the learner, either to include a social aspect or simply to ask a question.
The mobile mental box
With all these amazing facts, it’s no wonder that mobile learning became a buzzword. Also, in 2010, gamification on mobile began trending, and it’s never stopped. Mobile moved from being a new horizon and a new perspective to a “must have and must have now” technology. People began disregarding other possibilities and designing for mobile first, above all else. Mobile or bust.
Along the way, mobile stopped being a tool and started becoming the final solution. And learning got lost in the noise.
Two questions to ask before designing mobile learning
Just to clarify, here at Maestro, we love mobile. Mobile learning is a fantastic and innovative solution, and with Apple’s ARKit, the possibilities just keep getting bigger and brighter.
But at the core, we must be careful about pre-determined solutions. We don’t want to get caught up in the hype and use mobile for learning because it’s the current hottest trend. We want to use mobile for our learners when it’s the best tool for the job. We can determine this by asking two simple questions.
How can I best communicate this subject to my learners?
This involves taking an in-depth look at both your learner audience and your learning objectives. How do your learners like to learn? What are you trying to teach? Answering these questions help you determine if you need some brand new ILT, one of those Pimax VR headsets, or sensible, interactive mobile learning.
What platform works best for both our needs?
Creating a mobile AR experience might be one of the current trends, but does it communicate your learning objectives in a measurable way? While it might be nice to imagine your employees taking training on their smartphones in their own time, will they actually do it? (They might actually spend their evenings wrangling kids or watching Netflix.) While it’s tempting to get attached to a trending idea, it’s good to look at the problem from every angle. Asking your learner about their preferred method is also a great idea.
Mobile is a tool for learning, not the final solution
Mobile became a buzzword for a reason, and it’s still holding onto its rightful place as one of the most useful learning tools in the arsenal. After all, mobile technology brings many advantages to the learning space, and it constantly pushes us to question “what if?”
Still, nothing’s perfect, and mobile isn’t either. So if mobile isn’t the right answer for either of the questions above, start looking for the answer that checks all your boxes (or, at least, a realistic amount of boxes). Rather than starting with mobile and moving forward, start with your learning needs and objectives, then move forward from there.
If mobile is the right answer, you’ll make the final decision based on a foundation of strategy.
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