Why Do Mobile Learning?

If you’re just getting started with e-learning, you might not know what mobile learning is or why anyone would want to create it. Does that sound like you? If so, keep reading!

Let’s start with the basics: mobile learning is learning delivered on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. Nearly everyone has at least one of these devices—some have both—and they’re not shy about pulling them out to look up information (“Let’s Google it!”); shop for clothes, electronics, and nearly anything else; and yes, play the occasional game. With so many people consuming content via mobile device, why not meet them there—and provide key information in a convenient context?

Why Mobile?

Mobile learning is super-effective for helping learners connect with the resources they need—right in their workflow. There are tons of situations when learners need coaching or information mid-project. Think about a teacher who’s about to teach a lesson he’s never taught before. He might pull out a tablet to refresh his memory on the topic he’s about to introduce to his students. Or imagine a salesperson brushing up on her objection-handling skills right before going into a tough meeting. She might use a smartphone to look for a targeted tutorial that her manager recommends.

There are plenty more situations like these, where you’d want learning materials for a mobile format to make it easy for learners to get the help they need right when and where they need it.  

How Mobile Learning Is Different

“Mobile learning” is more than just e-learning delivered on a mobile device (as compared to a traditional desktop computer). First, it’s technically different, because learners don’t navigate and interact with the course using mice or keyboards. Second, it’s different contextually, because learners turn to mobile devices in vastly different situations than when they use a desktop computer. They might be traveling, working in the field, or even at a meeting or appointment where they seek information.

Because consuming learning content on a mobile device is so different, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind when you’re considering developing e-learning for a mobile context:

  • Screen real estate: You have less screen space to work with on mobile devices than on desktop computers. That means it can be tough for learners to make their way through dense text, detailed images, or anything else that might require them to see a full image all at once.
  • Short timeframe: In this performance support context, your learners are often on the go, in between meetings, at lunch, etc. It’s best to chunk the content into smaller modules that can be consumed in one sitting.

Getting Started

We have some great strategies to help you think about optimizing learning content for mobile:

Are you developing learning content for use on mobile devices? We’d love to hear about it! Please share your tips in the comments. And follow us on Twitter and E-Learning Heroes for updates on all things e-learning.