How to adapt your mobile learning strategy to the needs of modern learners

It can be easy to assume that ‘modern learners’ simply means Gen Z and Millenials. However, a large part of the modern world, and therefore modern learning styles, is the seamless integration of technology in our everyday lives. Mobile isn’t just a fad for ‘digital natives’ and younger employees, it’s an integral part of modern life for many people across all ages and types of career experience.

One of the primary benefits of introducing mobile learning into your strategy is increasing the flexibility of the learning environment. What’s important to remember is that a learning strategy including mobile does not mean mobile-only, and a blended learning approach is more likely to meet the needs of everyone.

However, when it comes to fine-tuning the mobile side of your learning strategy to the needs of modern learners, here are a few things to consider:

1. Assess the digital literacy of your workforce

One of the first steps to adapting your strategy is to get a good understanding of the digital literacy of your employees. We’d recommend conducting a survey or a low-level, digital-skills test rather than making assumptions based on things like age and how digitally native you would expect certain employees to be. If you’re going to implement a skills test however, it’s important your employees know that the test will not negatively impact how they are treated in the workplace.

It’s important to get input from your employees as they will be the ones making use of the strategy you wish to put in place. Once you have assessed the digital literacy levels of your workforce, you can adapt your mobile learning strategy as needed.

2. Understand that not everyone will want to use mobile

Flexibility is at the heart of any mobile learning strategy. When defining your strategy, it’s important to ensure you have an LMS primed for both desktop and mobile learning. In any organisation, there will always be a handful of employees who aren’t comfortable with mobile and prefer other ways of learning.

The most important thing for L&D teams to recognise is that this is ok. It is likely that the majority of your workforce will take to mobile learning quickly, but forcing those who don’t into using mobile for learning is a sure-fire way to decrease engagement. Everyone’s needs are different and the best way to boost engagement and learning retention is to meet your employees where they are comfortable.

3. Create and curate eLearning content with low data requirements

If you’re encouraging your workforce to increase their use of mobile learning, it’s important to consider the eLearning content you’ll use in this process. Video content for example, while engaging, can require a lot of bandwidth for your learners. Whether they’re bringing their own devices or using tablets or smartphones provided by your organisation, your learners should be able to view your content on weaker WiFi connections and without needing a lot of data.

Animations and infographics, for example, are great ways to keep engagement high, without worrying about additional costs for bandwidth. It’s also important to keep your training short and sweet to allow for both the limitations of internet connections and modern learners' shortening attention spans.

4. Focus your content on microlearning

We’ve already discussed the bandwidth situation, but now it’s time we were honest about attention spans. Again, this isn’t a generational thing. The access to technology afforded to modern learners of all ages and career experiences, in and out of their working lives, means that attention spans are getting shorter. It is widely believed, for example, that video content (of any form) should be shorter than 4 minutes in order to retain engagement.

Microlearning also allows your employees to integrate their learning into their working schedules. Modern learners from all industries are often more stimulated and spread more thinly than those ten, or even five, years ago. It can be difficult for them to find half an hour or an hour to sit down and complete training at a desktop. A large part of the reason to invest in these strategies is the flexibility of mobile learning, and microlearning creates flexibility of time as well as physical space.

5. Consider the needs of flexible, home, and remote working

The increase in flexible working hours and working from home means that not everyone will be on the same schedule or in the same location. There are a few ways mobile learning can assist with this. For example, you can allow your remote, field or home-based workers dial into classroom-based training using their devices.

It’s also worth being more flexible with training deadlines. For example, providing a deadline of 5 pm for a piece of eLearning may not work for someone who works nightshifts or an on-call engineer who has back-to-back appointments until 6 pm. Compliance training, of course, needs to remain relatively strict, but in a working world where employees are more geographically diverse and working to different schedules, your mobile learning strategy needs to provide the same flexibility.

6. Point-of-need and on-demand learning

One of the strongest benefits of integrating mobile into your learning strategy is the ability to distribute point-of-need learning. Whether you have sales reps on their way to a pitch or a warehouse worker who needs to be trained on new machinery, point-of-need learning allows your employees to make the most of learning opportunities as and when they need it.

On top of this, it increases efficiency, learning engagement, and ensures your LMS remains a central point of learning for your employees. Google and YouTube are increasingly used for personal development and learning at home by many of the modern workforce. Looking up everything from Malaysian chicken recipes to guides on Javascript coding, modern learners often look to the search engines on their phones when they need to learn something new. Making use of this ideology within your mobile learning strategy is a natural next step for your LMS.

Conclusion

Mobile devices are a part of the majority of modern workers’ lives, regardless of work experience, age, or gender. Adapting your learning strategy to mobile is one thing, but it’s important to consider the needs of your learners if you want to make the most of a mobile learning strategy. From assessing the digital literacy of your specific employees to making the most of self-driven and continuous learning, mobile learning requires careful planning but, done right, can be a fantastic tool for your organisations’ learning culture and continued learning engagement.

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