Mobile Learning: ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’

If you’re a learning professional and thinking mobile learning is the next big thing, you are mistaken. Mobile, or M Learning as it is commonly referred to, IS the big thing!A picture of the world with the statement, "Mobile devices are soon set to overtake the total numbers of humans on the planet; a first for technology."

Unless you have been under a rock, (quite obviously with no access to 3G or wifi!) you will be very aware that the use of smart devices is increasing. As the Bob Dylan song goes, ‘The Times They Are a-Changin’. The days where learning programmes were designed and built for a 1024 x 768 desktop computer and laptop are over and the times, well they have most certainly changed.

Startlingly, IT giant, Cisco recently reported that mobile devices are soon to overtake the total number of humans on the planet; a first for technology. Anyone who is unsure about the importance of mobile, this latest stat should help convince you.

Although mobile learning has been a growing trend for quite some time now, it looked set to make a real impact in the way that E-Learning was delivered. However, many organisations have been slow to uptake mobile learning on a large-scale. Having said that however, mobile learning has  started to come into its own and increase as more and more people use their own devices.

At Aurion Learning, we have noticed a considerable increase in demand for HTML 5  learning resources. Reassuringly, L&D departments are realising that users are switching from the classroom based 9-5 mentality and are tuning into something akin to a ‘starbucks culture’ of learning on the go.

With the surge in mobile technology, it has become easier and quicker to connect to the internet, almost anywhere. As a result and what will undoubtedly make a big impact amongst L&D departments is; expectation. Just like an Amazon prime account, users now expect to access knowledge instantly and get the information that they need, and all done simply in the palm of their hand and at the touch of a button.

So given this new expectancy, what real impact will mobile learning have on learning and development in organisations?

We recently attended a Learnovate Seminar in Dublin where Donald H Taylor, Chairman of Learning and Performance Institute spoke about the trends for learning in 2014. Mobile learning was a hot topic of discussion and in particular, the increasing numbers of learners who are starting to take responsibility for their own learning and development. Coincidence or not, this coincides with the increase in mobile technology, with one attendee in particular referring to this trend as ‘H Learning’ – learning on the hoof! We are not sure if the term will catch on, but there’s merit to it and there is certainly no denying that it’s hard to ignore the increase of learning on the go using a smart device.

Smartphones and tablets are popular because they are portable and easy to use. These devices help us to connect with others, gather information and provide us with the knowledge that we require. As humans, it is in our nature to communicate and socialise. Access to social media and the creation of digital communities helps to facilitate this need and are a factor in attracting us to using tablets and smart phones more and more. These features have contributed to the widespread adoption of mobile devices and also are what makes them ideal for delivering learning content.

There are two types of learning that are greatly enhanced by mobile devices:

  • Social learning – The ability to carry a smartphone or tablet anywhere means that social learning networks seep into everyday life, with instant interactivity and connectivity that enables people all over the world to have meaningful connections centred on collaborative, social learning.
  • Informal, self-directed learning – Google searching is just the tip of the iceberg. With websites like TED and Wikipedia to name just a few and the overall availability of information on the internet, it’s now possible to learn virtually any skill or piece of knowledge online. Mobile devices mean time that was formerly wasted commuting or waiting can become time for learning.

Picture of a smart phone and statistic taken from main body of text, "The global workforce is now more mobile than ever with 1.3 billion people predicted to be mobile by 2015.However, the potential for mobile learning stretches far beyond just social learning or gathering information from search engines. It is becoming increasingly common for companies and organisations to approach E-Learning providers with plans to create learning programmes and modules that are compatible with a wide range of devices including smartphones and tablets.

Mobile learning gives L & D departments the extra edge by giving learners access to learning content whenever they want. Learners can tap into new information whether they are working from home or on the go. This provides them with more control over their own time and therefore creates flexibility to prioritise as they see fit. Mobile learning means that organisations are able to integrate their L & D strategy more seamlessly into everyday life.

According to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the global workforce is now more mobile than ever and is still continuing to rise with 1.3 billion people predicted to be mobile by 2015. Widespread adoption of mobile devices means that mobile learning is in a good position to become the main method for learning within the workforce.

Whether your organisation has embraced the use of mobile learning fully or not, it is important to note that conversion to mobile learning is not just about transferring reams of information and compliance documents to a format that is compatible with mobile devices. In contrast, in order to achieve learning success and to truly adopt mobile learning, organisations need to refine the information they want people to learn into short, concise points that will be easy to read and memorise when delivered through their smartphones or tablets.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.


Tips for using stories in E-Learning

Illustration of six people connecting through stories in various digital interactionsIn keeping with the storytelling theme from our previous blog post; using storytelling for learning, we discussed how stories can be used for learning and what makes a good story. Often overlooked, stories are a great resource for learning. They are authentic, easy to remember and are a great way to describe an experience.

Storytelling itself is the oldest form of communication and for the majority it is the medium through which we can communicate meaningfully with one another. At Aurion HQ, we are avid fans of storytelling and in particular using stories for learning (not that you could tell!) We will soon be launching a new online tool called Storee that will change the way we tell and share stories.

It’s been proven that our brain organises information in story form, allowing us to connect and make sense of things. One of the first things we do upon meeting others is to share a story; indeed as humans, much of our communication is made up of stories.

What better way to ignite the learning spark than through storytelling?

5 Tips for using stories in E-Learning.

  1. Bin the lists and facts and transform them into stories. Many case study examples in learning, particularly those in the workplace often involve lists of do’s and don’ts. A better way of presenting this is to merge the learning content around a story. Be sure to include and utilise your subject matter experts as they are dab hands at creating stories from content due to their experience and expertise. The key to the success of stories in learning is to ensure that they are relevant and that the learner listening or watching the story can relate to it. In this way the lessons from the stories are more easily depicted.
  2. Dump the jargon. Within a storytelling context, ‘business-speak’ can sound a little trite. When we recall stories that we have heard, we remember stories that were told in a conversational tone, easy to understand and listen to.
    Studies have shown that the part of the brain that experiences emotions (known as the frontal cortex) does not react to overused phrases or figures of speech. Be sure to tell your story in a natural dialogue and one that doesn’t sound robotic.
  3. Introduce multimedia. With so many online applications available at our finger tips, it is easy to integrate your own videos, great images and audio into your story.  As the saying goes, a picture can be worth a 1000 words. The use of multimedia can really enhance learning and the story. If you don’t have a bank of your own images and would like to get creative and use free images, you can use the Creative Commons area on Flickr or stock.xchng. You can also use Compfight to help you search for photos that you can use. Remember to read the guidelines on proper attribution!
  4. Stimulate the brainResearch discovered by monitoring the brain activity of monkeys that whenever a researcher picked up a banana whilst being observed by a monkey, it had the same effect on the activation of neurons as when the monkey itself picked up a banana. Stories that are vivid and appeal to the various sensory cortices in the brain will increase neuro-engagement. This will have the knock on effect of making the story and the message behind it more memorable. Stories can be made more stimulating by creating dramatic plots, the use of music, expressive language and graphics.
  5. Appeal to universal feelings. Although the actual content and characters of a story may be from another universe all together, listeners get wrapped up in stories that appeal to basic social motivations and feelings.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the use of stories in learning or would like to be part of Storee Beta, please sign up.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.