You want to design and deliver a flexible and effective mobile learning programmes, but where do you start?
Here are my 10 golden rules for a successful outcome:
1. Content is King
Yes, it’s a cliché, but it couldn’t be more pertinent than in the realm of mobile learning where it’s vital to have quality content that’s accurate, relevant, just-in-time and bang up-to-date.
You need a strategy that ensures the content stays accurate and maximizes push functionality to notify and deliver updates and refreshed content to users.
You can use a host of different media formats for your content, though some work better than others – Flash, for example, doesn’t work well on mobiles. Responsive HTML5 enables a piece of content to re-format itself for different screen sizes and change again depending on the orientation of the device. If you don’t have the benefit of an authoring team equipped with a responsive authoring tool, you could consider distributing PDFs as a way of quickly producing content.
2. Make the user experience golden
Your audience will be typically internet savvy and well used to downloading clever Apps onto their tablets and smartphones. They will expect nothing less than a first class user experience from your App.
To successfully deliver your content you will need to use native mobile learning Apps, created specifically for the operating system of the device (iOS or Android). Clear branding and ease of use must be your top priorities.
Next on the list should be facilities to enable users to manage the local storage of data within the App.
They will want to know how much storage space the App uses and be able to remove items they no longer need. You really don’t want to have users uninstalling your App simply because it’s taking up too much space.
3. Play to people’s learning preferences
It’s been my experience that short, sharp just-in-time training pieces are perfect for phone users while the longer, more formal eLearning pieces are better suited to PCs and tablets. In general, mobile learning works best as part of an overall blended learning environment.
4. Support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Increasingly organisations are moving away from providing their staff with company phones and tablets to BYOD strategies. Although you may have a few acceptance issues to overcome, there are clear ways to do this and the benefits of BYOD especially for larger audiences, are obvious.
5. Track user performance
It’s essential for most companies to know who has downloaded and accessed which piece of content and who has passed any assessments at the end of it.
This way you can see which pieces of content are the most popular and ensure that compliance or regulatory requirements are met. The ability to compare learner activities with performance statistics enables HR managers to match learning inputs with performance outputs – a dream come true!
6. Targeted content
Don’t overload users with everything on the central system. Target different groups of learners with only the content that is relevant to them and which will benefit them in their roles.
7. Online and offline
The benefit of individuals to be able to access materials as and when they need them, not as and when they are in Wi-Fi or mobile network range, is key to mobile learning. Your learners must be able to download content onto the App and go offline.
The content itself must be good to use and interactive to operate is a given. But to encourage learners to keep coming back to the App, you might want to consider gamification.
Competitions, achievement awards and exploration are all useful ways to do this. So to are social features such as rating, sharing and chat rooms. They all help to encourage the learning community to learn together and to share their knowledge.
9. Consider content usage patterns
Regularly used, high-value materials may warrant multimedia content produced to high production values – video works particularly well for phone use.
Reference materials that are less often used may be adequate in text form, which will take up much less storage space.
The App is probably the weakest point of the system, so depending on your security concerns, consider data encryption on the device and the use of device management software, geospatial device limitations, in-App passwords and enforced PIN protection.
Mobile is all about distributing high quality, relevant and up-to-date content across a range of devices so the right people can access it whenever and wherever they need it.
Your chosen mobile learning platform needs to be scalable, robust, proven and provide you with a complete end-to-end solution.
Your chosen supplier must have a good track record in this field as well as experience of the issues – both technical and educational – that might arise.
With the latest technologies, implementing a full mobile solution is a lot easier than it was just a year or so ago. Gone are the days when it would take 18 months to set up a Learning Management System (LMS).
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