Mobile learning, or MLearning, is defined as the delivery of learning, education or training on mobile devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops or PDAs. MLearning allows training and support to be taken anywhere, making it flexible and convenient for companies to use. Many businesses are taking advantage of this new technology to educate employees and clients more efficiently.
MLearning is most commonly used for training and education purposes. The majority of training or learning in the workplace occurs on the job. However, it can be costly and time consuming to require employees to attend meetings, conferences or other training sessions away from work. Recently, many businesses have begun to implement MLearning, which allows employees to stay in the workplace to acquire additional training or knowledge. With MLearning, employees can gain new knowledge faster and be more up-to-date on any changes or company additions.
MLearning has also become a helpful tool in training new employees, since it allows for the company to reduce group or individual training sessions and allow the employee to learn on their own terms. Not only does this allow the company to save on training hours, but allows the training manage to evaluate which employees are ready to begin work and which ones may need more help before starting on their own.
The MLearning environment refers to the manner in which information is available for a particular session, such as how it is organized, what information is available and how it can be accessed. The environments in MLearning are different with every use and can be customized to a particular learner’s needs. The environment should be flexible and adjustable among different devices – meaning what can be seen/accessed on a mobile phone should also be accessible on a tablet or laptop computer. If the MLearning environment is not user-friendly or if the information is hard to read or download, the learner won’t be able to gain anything from their session, which cancels the point of training at all.
Tips for MLearning environment:
• Keep information organized
• Ensure all information is easily accessible on all mobile devices
• Always have a contact for technical support
The prospect of MLearning has created a long list of the advantages it can bring to a company. One of the most obvious advantages is the flexibility and convenience of using MLearning and accessing information at any time – anywhere. But MLearning also allows the content to be customized to the learner, and can benefit different types of learners (i.e. visual learners, auditory learners, spatial learners, etc.). Since people take their mobile devices wherever they go, MLearning allows users to make use of their spare time, or ‘dead time’, such as while standing in line at the bank, waiting for the bus or even in between meetings/projects.
• Convenience and flexibility
• Customized learning
• Makes good use of spare time
• Tailored to different learning styles
• Larger access to information
Technology has changed the way we receive information. Computers have replaced reference books when it comes to learning new material, and now mobile devices are changing how we access information that has already been digitized. One of the key aspects of MLearning is using these mobile tools to access new information for education and training purposes. These MLearning tools allow learners to access the information needed from anywhere and at any time. Many of the devices used have become a common household need, such as mobile phones, notebook computers and even MP3 players. With technology on the rise, employees are more than likely to own at least one mobile learning tool they can use for future MLearning.
Mobile phones, also known as cellular phones or cell phones, were first commercially available in 1983 and weighed over 4 pounds. Since then, the market for cellular phones has grown to over 7 billion users in 2014, making the mobile phone a common household device and almost a necessity. Mobile phones have advanced into what we know as ‘smart phones’, which is a phone that allows for photography, gaming, downloading applications (or apps), and browser capabilities along with the standard making/receiving phone calls and text messaging. These smart phones allow for users to participate in MLearning because they allow for websites to be loaded through the browser or allow the user to download an ‘app’ that has the information already stored within it. Since mobile phones go wherever the learner goes, they’re a great tool to access MLearning at any time.
A tablet computer, simply known as a tablet, is a mobile computer in a single, portable unit and always features a touch screen display. Tablets often include sensory equipment, such as photo cameras, microphones and battery life. They do not often include a physical keyboard or mouse, but can be added on as separate pieces of hardware if desired. Starting at 8” long, tablets are larger than mobile phones and PDAs, but still smaller and more portable than a laptop or notebook computer. Tablets have many of the same capabilities as laptop computers as well as mobile phones, including web browsing, mobile apps, and even various document software, such as Microsoft Word or Keynote. Tablets work best for some people because they have larger screens that allow better viewing and allow access to both application and direct websites – in a convenient, portable format.
Notebook computers, also known as laptops or portable computers are computers that have the well-known clam-shell structure featuring a screen and full keyboard. Notebooks were made to be a portable computer that the user can take with them and still have the same capabilities as a full desktop computer. Even though notebooks started out as small units and were only considered for specialized fields, they have developed into the more powerful and modernized machine they are today. Notebooks are becoming as common as mobile phones and are a great tool for MLearning because of its abilities to perform any function a desktop computer can. Notebooks allow the user to sign on to websites, download/upload content and even view supplemental DVDs or CD-ROMS.
Smaller, more compact notebooks, known as netbooks, can offer another way for the user to access MLearning. Netbooks can form almost all of the same functions as a full notebook, such as web browsing, video content, downloads and using search engines, due to its size the netbook does not offer many input devices, such as CD/DVD player or even many USB ports. Netbooks are great for simple information access, but do not work well if additional information will need to be added from the exterior.
Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
Personal digital assistants, or personal data assistant, are a brand of mobile devices that function as an information manager, both personal and professional. The main use for PDAs is for a person to keep track of their needed information, such as contacts, calendars, schedules, videos and music. They typically have a touch screen that can be maneuvered with a stylus pen or pointer. In more recent years, PDAs have been equipped to access the internet, allowing the user to visit web pages, watch videos, or download content. In regards to MLearning, PDAs work in a similar manner to the mobile phone, in which the user can take the educational material with them wherever they go. Many companies use PDAs to allow employees to access MLearning and training while controlling their access to unauthorized information or sites. Unfortunately, PDA use has steadily declined over the past few years due to the increase use of smartphones and their increased capabilities.
Source: mLearning Essentials Workshop
River Street Consultant