This year, COVID-19 created an enormous challenge to learning on a global scale -- and one that continues to affect our daily experience more than eight months later. eLearning’s mobile-friendly nature has risen to meet that challenge as an unprecedented number of students and professionals were forced into the virtual space by stay-at-home orders and closures of in-office and in-school environments. Here’s how the role of mobile learning has proved critical in the time of COVID.
Overnight, everything changed, in education as much as in training and professional development. Here’s what mobile learning has accomplished in the past eight months.
The idea that education could be as, or more, effective than brick and mortar, instructor-led traditional model is nothing new. In 1923, Thomas Edison argued that video clips could replace teachers and books! The rise of mobile learning is in part due to the growing realization that learners are seeking high-quality information and learning experience in a more accessible format. So, we were already exploring a world where virtual learning is valued and utilized on a broader scale, but this year, and the mobile technologies we have at our disposal, gave us an aggressive shove in that direction! Despite the fact that it was largely against our will, the situation required that we adapt and has proven that a broader approach to mobile learning is possible and valuable.
Mobile learning is a critical component in allowing so many people to stay home and support efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Multiple learners in a single household have been able to learn from their homes, often each on their own devices in their own corners of the house! Mobile learning has given us the ability to continue to work towards our goals without an extended disruption in an incredibly challenging time -- that’s huge!
Mobile learning, and eLearning in general, provide course authors with the ability to receive real time data and immediately flag issues that are occurring for learners. This, in turn, empowers you to ensure you’re offering top-quality material. One way to do this is by performing quality assurance testing of your courses. There are a lot of issues that a mobile learning course can suffer from; for example, common technology difficulties can lower the quality of the mobile learning experience due to connection and download problems, issues with audio and video, and login errors.
Another issue can be the lack of interactivity or one-sidedness that a learner can feel from a poorly designed course. All of these issues are solvable, and you will find you can identify and eliminate these issues through quality assurance testing and then continue to refine the experience through tactical processes like surveying learners immediately after course completion and making improvements. Mobile courses are particularly agile for including social learning features or gamification, which can help learners to stay involved and invested. The bottom line: mobile content creators should always be learning, too!
Communication is particularly challenging in the times when it is most needed: during a crisis. During the pandemic, mobile learning allows for clear and effective communication in a rapidly developing situation. One way Vector worked to provide clear and accurate communication during the pandemic is by providing free training and other resources through our Coronavirus Resource Center. These resources were designed to provide learners with reliable and relevant information that can help them navigate common issues during COVID, all accessible from their phones and mobile devices.
Mobile learning allows us to provide learners with resources in an accessible way, without stigma, as well as maximizing your communication by using a combination of resources and technologies to deliver your message, like app notifications, emails and text messages.
This is where mobile learning really shines! Mobile learning can be used to enhance the in-classroom experience; it’s not one or the other. Mobile learning has built-in natural flexibility that an in-classroom experience doesn’t. Learners can log in and participate from wherever they are and at the time of day that is best for them. From allowing learners to log on at off hours, to letting them participate from their bedroom or living room sofa, mobile learning makes it easy to learn where and when is optimal for the learner.
Mobile learning isn’t second best; it’s another option that can be incredibly impactful for learners who may not get as much out of the traditional learning environment of a classroom, or who have restrictions that make it impossible for them to fit that style of learning into their work or life schedule. In traditional environments, learners often experience some level of micromanagement in their day; mobile learning allows for more independence and ownership over the learning experience. That’s just one reason why eLearning, as a larger category, nurtures lifelong learning!
Being in a classroom or traditional learning setting can make the stakes feel high and learners can feel “on the spot.” Mobile learning gives learners the opportunity to practice and improve skills in a low stakes environment. For example, mobile learning courses can include elements like simulation training which help learners “experience” a skill virtually before they have to demonstrate it in real life. It lets students focus on their work in a flexible, adaptable environment without added external pressures.
We are at a crossroads. While there is so much of pandemic-life that we are eager to leave in the past, embracing mobile learning should not be one of them. Through a commitment to providing high-quality content, we’re ensuring that there is access to education and opportunity, even during difficult circumstances. We’re also allowing learners to self-direct their learning experience, which is equated with success, both for themselves and for their school or organization. That’s a win-win.