The proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices has revolutionised how we approach everything in life and education; training is no exception.
Smartphones and tablets have now replaced physical textbooks and clunky desktop-based LMSs, integrating education with our universal habit of reaching for our phones whenever we need to know something.
Though it may be a relatively new discipline, mobile learning is now poised to change how we engage with people through education and vocational training.
If you’re hoping to incorporate mobile learning into your approach to teaching, here’s a closer look at what it is, how it’s different from other forms of online learning, and how mobile learning can help you and your students.
What is mobile learning, and why is it so popular?
Mobile learning, sometimes called ‘M-learning’, refers to any act of accessing educational content using a smartphone or tablet. Students and vocational trainees can access learning materials via mobile apps, social media platforms, or purpose-built hubs for online education.
Any learning conducted through a mobile device can technically be called mobile learning. However, the term generally refers to purpose-built, mobile-first educational materials focused on a learner’s mobility, with resources that can be accessed anytime, from anywhere, provided you have an internet connection.
One of the critical reasons mobile learning is so popular is the excellent degree of flexibility it offers both students and teachers. In a mobile learning suite, no one is required to work in a particular place or time slot. Both teachers and learners can access the content when they need it, where they need it, just like they would with a recreational app.
Mobile learning has also proven exceptionally popular with modern audiences because courses and modules are broken down into small, easily-digested sections.
This approach to learning, both in educational institutions and in the context of vocational training, has proven to be more engaging with modern learners and ensures faster completion and better knowledge retention.
What’s the difference between mobile learning and e-Learning?
As mobile devices have become universal and the delivery methods for education have evolved, many people have used the terms “mobile learning” and “e-Learning” interchangeably.
Although there’s certainly some overlap between them, there are several key differences to understand.
Purpose: While both eLearning and mobile learning are intended to educate, the aims of specific modules tend to show a stark difference between the two approaches. On the one hand, eLearning is crafted to teach someone particular skills or impart comprehensive knowledge on a specific field or subject.
On the other hand, mobile learning is geared more toward an ongoing learning process, which is reflected in a format that breaks important, complex topics down into small, easily-digestible segments.
Content Format: One of the key things that differentiate the learning experience of eLearning and mobile learning is the format the content takes. eLearning modules are generally created with the understanding that students will access them through a desktop or laptop computer.
This means there are few hard limits in terms of the content bandwidth, and students have near unlimited access to high-res images, audio, and video alongside traditional text-based materials.
Though mobile devices quickly catch up to the processing power of desktops and laptops, some limitations remain. This has pushed course designers to create lessons and materials that are easy to download and access and won’t overstrain a phone or tablet’s capacity.
Suitability for Different Learners: Because mobile learning courses and modules are broken down into small, bite-sized chunks of content, they lend themselves to students and employees in specific environments much more than others.
The longer, more in-depth eLearning format is generally the better option for students and employees looking to gain a specific qualification or measurable level of expertise.
For employees who have to keep up with the demands of a fast-paced working environment or students looking to support their performance on a more extensive, more detailed course, the segmented, compact format of mobile learning is generally the better option.
5 Benefits of Mobile Learning for Students
Now that we’ve understood what mobile learning is and its traits, here are some of the most prominent benefits it can offer students.
Time efficiency and accessibility
One of the biggest obstacles to self-managed learning is finding the time slots to study materials. Mobile learning eliminates this issue by allowing students to access course materials at any time and encouraging them to absorb them in small, bite-sized segments.
When students can pick up materials when and where it suits them, it helps them find regular slots best suited to learning in their everyday routines. This allows them complete courses faster than in situations where the material is delivered in long lesson slots.
Mobile learning also makes things easier from a teacher or admin’s standpoint, as the compact format will allow you to create and distribute content quicker and easier.
Seamless integration with existing apps
Another significant benefit of mobile learning is its mobile-first design allows for seamless integration with other popular apps and mobile technologies used worldwide.
For some time now, tech giants such as Apple and Google have been engineering ways for people to enjoy a seamless experience across all sites and platforms, with many online learning providers allowing users to sign in with existing IDs and pay with virtual wallets.
This kind of fluid, consistent experience is on its way to becoming universal, with leading payment providers offering Apple Pay integration as standard.
It encourages real-time feedback
Another great thing about mobile learning is how it gives educators and managers a real-time view of students’ performance, making it easy to provide real-time feedback as they learn.
In education and training, real-time feedback can be a hugely beneficial performance management method, helping teachers and students stay up to date on their progress and make minor, on-the-spot adjustments, culminating in better overall results.
Real-time feedback will also help students feel rewarded for their work when they hear about what they’re doing well and motivate them towards better results.
For vocational training, real-time feedback can also help speed up the process of scheduled performance reviews, as employees will already be up-to-date on how they’re performing and where they should be looking to improve.
Digital e-learning is more conducive to microlearning
Microlearning, an approach to training and education that’s been gathering traction for some time now, offers a whole host of benefits for anyone looking to distribute educational materials. According to eLearning provider SHIFT, microlearning can improve engagement by 50%, improve long-term retention, and increase the speed with which learners develop their skill set.
Though this isn’t true for every mobile learning course and platform, the mobile app format lends itself naturally to microlearning, and many microlearning apps have features that actively encourage it. For example, push notifications can send learners regular reminders to brush up on certain skills and modules or spend time reviewing core materials.
Continuously learn with e-learning
Finally, mobile learning greatly influences nurturing a culture of continuous learning. In a vocational training setting, fostering a continuous learning and development culture is essential to keep employees engaged and turnover low. In fact, according to this 2021 feature by Forbes, 56% of surveyed workers considered career growth more important than their level of compensation, and 47% were dissatisfied with the standard of training they received.
When teaching through a modern mobile learning platform, mobile learning will empower you to direct learners more effectively and suggest new ways to improve performance and upskill. This leverages machine learning algorithms to help tailor their experience and guide them towards the next significant milestone.
By fostering a culture of continuous learning, you’ll not only ensure that your learners feel more engaged in their environment but will also improve all-around performance and help your organisation keep up in competitive arenas.
We hope you’ve found this overview of mobile learning helpful as you work to align your training resources and map out the educational methods that work for you.
By harnessing mobile learning technology and proactively using its features to improve online learning, you’ll quickly begin to see more efficient, more successful, and more engaged classes!
Daniel Groves is a business growth strategist and author, constantly developing his knowledge and sharing his experience with like-minded entrepreneurs, business owners, and growth strategists. Connect with Daniel here: https://danielmgroves.co.uk/