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Beating the ‘Limitations’ of mLearning

Beating the ‘Limitations’ of mLearning

Mobile learning, or mLearning, has become a buzzword for L&D teams and educational institutions across the world. And, why not? After all, with billions of world citizens toting mobile phones in their pockets, it was only a matter of time that mobile phones were considered to be the next big thing in education technology. The time has arrived!

Yet, many organizations and learning designers shy away from mLearning – either due to the myths that surround it or the limitations of the technology. In this post, we shall discuss some of these limitations (which are more “perceived” than true!) and probably bust a few myths along the way. Here we go…

“How should I go about resizing my eLearning courses for mLearning?”

Don’t! Seriously, don’t do it. One of the major perceived limitations of mLearning is having your learners take a 30-minute (or longer) course on their mobile device. When you resize an existing eLearning module to fit on the screen of a mobile device, all you are effectively doing is porting it across devices, without adding any value to your course, or taking effective advantage of the technology at hand.

Let’s understand one fundamental concept – courses developed for mobile platforms are NOT the same as courses developed for desktops or laptops. For one, form factors differ greatly. The greater evil is learner attention span – expecting your learners to spend a lot of time on their mobile phones to learn something new is expecting way too much.

Learning deployed on mobile phones should be designed specifically for mobile phones – ideally, they should be learning nuggets that reinforce prior learning. Making the most of mLearning is to recognize the way you can leverage it to your advantage, and not just porting your existing learning material to a mobile-friendly format. In short, don’t resize – rethink!

“Not all of my learners use smartphones!”

They don’t always need to, to be involved in the mLearning process. It’s up to the learning designers to think out of the box and figure out innovative ways of using mobile technology. You could consider SMS-based learning, or even Unstructured Supplementary Services Data (USSD) as a means of keeping your learner connected to your knowledge base.

“Will mLearning render results in terms of performance?”

Don’t shoot the messenger! mLearning is only a vehicle to deliver your content – it can be as effective or as ineffective as you design it. Like with any form of training, you need to design it well to make it work. Done well, mLearning can do wonders for your organization!

“mLearning does not track my learner progress.”

Does too. Along with phones, LMSes have become smarter as well! You can now connect to your LMS – assuming you are using a ‘smart’ LMS – through your phones. Thus, learner progress is tracked and reported, just like it would from a desktop computer.

I could go on – but I really haven’t come across any compelling reason to write off mLearning as part of a training strategy. Unless, of course, your organization has a strong ‘no mobiles in the workplace’ policy – in that case, imposing upon your employees to learn on their time might be detrimental to the learning process.

Can you think of reasons why you might not wish to consider mLearning in your scheme of things? Do leave a comment – we’d love to know.


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