Langevin Blog

3 Challenges Associated with Mobile Learning

March 26th, 2012

Technology in training is changing quickly, and mobile-learning is coming along for the ride; however, each technology has its challenges. For example, when using PowerPoint, often times there is too much content on one slide. In much the same way, mobile learning is hitting some speed bumps as it evolves in the training industry.

Mobile learning, or m-learning as it is commonly called, has been around too long to be called a “fad”, but it has also been around long enough to expose its own challenges. I’d like to share three “speed bumps” or cautions regarding m-learning in an effort to help you make good choices when using it.

Generational Appeal

Just because they like it, it doesn’t mean it’s good for them. The newest members of the work force embrace technology, and they expect to be able to use it in many areas of the work place. But that doesn’t mean m-learning is the right solution for everything. The truth is that m-learning provides a great opportunity to deliver information quickly; however, that’s only one part of training. Presenting content makes up no more than one-third of the total training package. If learners need information, updates, or job aids, this delivery method is great.

Application Limitations

It is challenging enough to allow for realistic practice in a classroom setting. Practicing a new skill through m-learning will take participants even further from “reality.” This potentially “virtual” practice environment offers little opportunity for successful practice.

Speaking of little, the screen is little. This would require less text, more “close up” photo or video demos, and minimal information on each screen. The result could mean a more time-consuming training session which defeats the point of a quick solution. M-learning is intended to be short – no more than a minute or two to complete.

Distractions

In classroom training, participants are currently distracted by their own workload, their co-workers in the session, their personal situations outside of work and, oh yes, their phones. Now there is a desire to train people using the same technology that distracts them from training.

I know attention spans are getting shorter, the newest members of the work force are more tech savvy, and the technology is available; however, there is a time and a place for everything. Learners gather in a training room to focus on training. Imagine trying to hold an instructor-led training session in the call center or on the manufacturing floor. There would be too many distractions. Could you imagine trying to train while driving, or watching TV, or having a meal? People use their phones for calls, texting, and apps while doing lots of other things; that doesn’t allow for a focused training environment. (Also, what training department wants to be responsible for accidents caused by “training while driving?”)

In conclusion, m-learning is a powerful tool if it is used wisely. Short presentations, job aids, post-course resources, and networking opportunities can be combined to make this “virtual” solution a real training aid.

Jim









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