Mobile learning goes mainstream: How to upgrade your strategy
The rise of smartphones with internet connectivity has transformed our day-to-day life. Perhaps one significant advantage of mobile technology is the way we learn.
There is an evident shift in the learning domain from a teacher-centric model to a learner-centric approach. A high-school learner today is very likely to own a mobile device and acceptance of such devices in schools, universities, adult education and training has further encouraged the mlearning trend. According to Journal of Media Education Study, students on an average check mobile devices more than 11 times a day.
This transition has encouraged elearning and distance learning programs to go mobile and ensure availability of open educational resources online across devices.
How to identify if your elearning needs to go mobile?
Thinking of creating an elearning program for the course is all well and good, but it may not be sufficient. You may still come across a host of problems. An existing elearning course can make it difficult for stakeholders to understand what a mobile course will offer or how it looks on the device.
You may probably find disengaged users with lesser course retention which can adversely affect course completion and assessment statistics. The discouraging statistics in turn shall result in management’s concerns & pressure to deliver better platform results.
All in all, you have an elearning course but with dismal results. And this is when you need to revamp your strategy and go mobile.
7 steps to create mobile learning strategy:
A mobile learning strategy for your program must be thoroughly planned.And its implementation requires a series of considerations before you get started. Here are few things to keep in mind to help you frame a m-learning strategy:
1. Assess readiness:
Once you have established the need for a mobile learning solution, you must assess the organization readiness. Experience suggests that mobile learning encourages social learning. It is apt for just-in-time and performance related support solutions. Some key factors to assess readiness include:
a).Learner Profile: What is the mobile device usage pattern of your learners? Are they ready and willing to take courses on mobile devices? If yes, which subjects, topics and in what situations?
b).Management buy-in: Is your management open to the concept of mobile learning solution? Are they ready to invest resources in creating a plan for mobile based learning in the Institution?
c).Culture: Is there a culture of social learning, sharing in your Institution?
2. Decide on devices and platforms to support:
Mobile platforms or operating systems these days jostle for larger market share with iOS and Android ruling the market. Built on these platforms are a larger number of different devices and a large proportion amongst learners may use any of these operating systems.
Similarly, the user preferences and usage of screen sizes also vary widely. You can expect mobile devices including tablets ranging between 3.5” to 10” screen size.
The operating systems and screen sizes choices make it a crucial factor in defining a mobile learning strategy. If you plan to provide devices to learners then deciding on devices and platforms can be easy, but it may be very expensive and hence not all take that route.
The learners these days use personal devices in absence of a clear policy from the Institution. In that case, a well articulated BYOD policy along with decision on how to choose between a mobile application or responsive solution will be a necessary decision in your implementation plans.
3. Select development models:
This ties to the previous point. Deciding between native app or mobile web can be tricky. As far as user experience is concerned native apps are better but can be on the expensive side. On the other hand, Mobile web scores high in terms of usability and cost.
In mlearning, native apps can score over the mobile website if your users access information in no or less network connectivity. However, mobile web is great if you need to cater an audience with wide range of devices and platforms.
Keep in mind the above factors while you decide on development model. These are terminologies you should know before venturing into m-learning.
4. Identify content suitability:
Some institutions who already have an elearning course, try converting it to mlearning probably considering mlearning to be a course on-the-move. But, this is a myth. The approach of developing once and delivering everywhere on all devices does not always work.
Mobile learning works best when short nuggets of lessons are delivered to enhance user learning. Identify such utility and situations where the mlearning course can be accessed and accordingly plan the content. Make learning contextual. Apart from static learning content, create & offer discussion forums to engage learners.
5. Media compatibility:
Media compatibility in an elearning course is a prerequisite these days. You must have a clear plan on how are you going to interface with trainees. Will you use pdfs, powerpoint, video, audio podcasts, or graphics? An elearning platform must integrate all of it into learning interface.
The platform like Examination Online allows you to choose the method, format that works best and give users an option to playback when required.
6.Manage security concerns:
Security is often identified as one of the major barriers to an adoption of m-learning course. If a mobile device is lost then there are chances of Institution’s intellectual property getting compromised.
To mitigate such risks you can adopt password and encryption. You must also take into account the BYOD policy which may affect these security measures. Apart from these, Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) can also help in providing remote erasing facility for lost devices. Include such measures to ensure that you have a foolproof security for m-learning.
Defining a mobile learning strategy in absence of a clear plan can result in discouraging outcomes. Make sure you accommodate above mentioned factors while creating a plan for your Institution.
Learning is going mobile. The statistics on mobile device usage is all over the internet. If you haven’t taken your course mobile or not upgraded the platform to new technological advances, you cannot choose to delay it any further. Reconsider your mlearning strategy and ensure your online learning solution serves the purpose it is built for.
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