How to Prepare for the Future of Mobile Learning

learning on mobile devices

The recent data about mobile device usage is a strong signal for what the future has in store.

“Mobile devices will account for 75% of global internet use next year, according to Zenith’s new Mobile Advertising Forecasts, published today. The mobile proportion of internet use has increased rapidly, from 40% in 2012 to 68% in 2016, and we forecast it to reach 79% by 2018.”

Zenith Media

I think it’s safe to say that all digital media consumption will happen via the internet on mobile devices very soon.

Follow the money. A phrase often repeated when you really want to know the answer to questions about tech trends…and other nefarious goings on.

In learning and development it’s important to “go where the learners are”.

You don’t want to waste time teaching employees HOW to use the application they will be using to learn something new. We are looking to reduce the friction, not add to it. By understanding what technology your employees are using, you have a better chance of successfully delivering learning through those devices.

From Computer Training Rooms to Learning on Mobile Devices

Historically, computer based training didn’t really take off until companies started issuing desktop computers to all employees. But even then training departments still needed to build training rooms filled with customized desktops loaded with audio/video capabilities. Companies didn’t know that multimedia capabilities would be useful for work back then. And multimedia was expensive. So overall it was cheaper to equip training rooms with dozens of multimedia computers rather than buying hundreds or thousands for the entire workforce.

Today that’s not an issue. Multimedia content is ubiquitous in eLearning because all computers have A/V capabilities built right into the main system boards. Multimedia is even available in all smartphones and other handheld devices. Heck, it’s even available on watches.

Even though the technology is available, it still takes some time before end users learn how to use it, and begin to make it a part of their every day lives. And this is where following the money comes into play.

In today’s hyper social and mobile world it’s a battle for attention. Attention is the most valued resource in today’s market place. What you pay attention too is what you are interested in. What you are interested in can be sold too you. And what you are interested in, you are most likely to learn more deeply.

The advertising and marketing industry has become insanely focused on understanding where consumer’s place their attention. Eyeballs equal dollars. But those same eyeballs are also the doorway to learning. Find out where the eyeballs are pointed and you have a pretty good idea of where to place your learning content. At least in respect to hardware. This is how we know when developing multimedia SCORM courses for the desktop is dead once and for all.

What This Means for Training Managers

Training managers and other learning leaders need to start looking at their team’s mobile capabilities. You need to be certain that your courses not only play on mobile devices, but are optimized for the smaller screens.

Does your LMS offer a mobile app? If not, does it at least optimize for the mobile browser experience?

If you’re looking to hire new training team members then be sure to ask about their knowledge of mobile delivery. You will be surprised by the varied responses. Some will tell you that it requires custom software solutions for “mLearning” that are separate from your LMS.  And others will tell you that course content shouldn’t be delivered on mobile devices at all. Others will call it “great for performance support, but not for learning.”  It’s your responsibility to know what’s real and what’s academic.

As you begin to define your strategy for 2017 you should do a quick audit of your current systems, processes, and learner work environment. Just to make sure that you are preparing your team for the near future.

What This Means for Instructional Designers and Developers

As a 21st century ISD you should be well aware of the technology changes that are ahead. Designing courses, and course content is very different today than it was even 10 years ago. If you have devoted your career to one particular eLearning authoring tool, maybe it’s time to update your skills in native digital media production. Knowing how to create short instructional videos, for example, is going to be a growing need as mobile content consumption continues to grow.

Understanding how to design courses that are a blend of ILT, mobile, and online self-paced, will also be your new challenge. Many instructional designers know how to create fantastic courses using authoring tools and exporting as complete SCORM file experiences. But could those same designers/developers create the same course without an authoring tool? Would they be willing too? Are YOU willing too try?

It might seem counter intuitive, but mobile devices are important to instructor-led training as well. Does your current system manage announcements, notifications, and alerts, effectively on mobile devices for your learners? These elements of course delivery are often forgotten or left up to your classroom administrator. But they all have a mobile component and should be taking advantage of the fact that people manage their jobs and their lives from their mobile devices. Make sure your training can function in the new mobile world.

If you’re looking for an LMS that was built from the ground up on a cloud platform and mobile ready on day 1 of your implementation, then give Litmos a try. Start a quick, easy, and FREE trial today.