Supporting your mobile learners doesn’t mean replacing all of your existing eLearning with mLearning. Both approaches have a place in your workforce training, and often a blend works well. But time and again, I see organizations make it an either-or proposition.
First, some definitions:
- eLearning is a broad set of applications and processes that includes web-based learning, computer-based learning and virtual classrooms. It is typically accessed in a stationary environment on computers with large screens and lots of bandwidth, able to handle high-resolution video and interactive digital content.
- mLearning takes place via a portable, hand-held electronic device: mobile phone, tablet or digital reader. Think of it as just-in-time learning for employees on the go.
As you can see, each approach serves different needs. This quiz will help you see which method works best in a given situation.
- Do learners have 10 minutes or less to focus on a lesson? Take an mLearning approach, with bite-sized chunks of material your learners can peek at between other tasks. Set a small learning objective for each chunk. Most eLearning courses run 20 minutes or more. For mLearning, it’s three to 10 minutes.
- Do employees need to build in-depth understanding of a topic or learn complicated skills? Choose eLearning, where you can present an entire course in a structured framework. Plus, you’ll have a better chance of learners’ undivided attention.
- Do learners already have a grasp of the domain, but need a quick refresher on-the-spot? Supporting on-the-job performance is where mLearning shines. Learners can access it in the moment and get on with their task.
- Is your material complex, with each lesson building on previous material and knowledge retention a main goal? The better choice is eLearning. This allows you to present a series of lessons, each covering specific material that must be mastered before going on to the next module.
- Must your lessons use detailed graphics, high-quality sound or lengthy videos to get the point across? The larger screen and beefy bandwidth of eLearning will suit your coursework best. Remember that mLearners may be in a noisy environment (making it hard to hear even with earbuds). The small screen of mobile devices will make it tough to decipher information-dense graphics. If you want to move this content to mLearning, you’ll need to rethink how you present it.
- Is the employee in the middle of a task and needs a specific piece of information? Quick access to key information is a job for mLearning. Learners carry it in their pockets; no need to memorize every fact.
- Do tests and quizzes require learners to enter lengthy text or select items with precision? Think about whether these can be redesigned (for example, allowing answers by checkbox or making targets large enough for fingers to select). Otherwise, opt for the large screen, mouse and dedicated keyboard that eLearning affords.
Are you using a blend of learning approaches? In my next post I’ll talk about pitfalls to avoid when converting eLearning to mLearning.