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When Is Mobile the Right Fit for Your Learners?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Many educators have questions about mobile learning, such as, “Everyone is carrying around a device; how do we take advantage of that?” or “How do I get my course content into a format that is compatible with a mobile device?”

But what educators should be asking is, “Can mobile learning benefit my objectives and course content?” 

Before you invest time and money in mobile learning, you should stop to consider whether your purpose and content is a good fit for mobile learning. Mobile learning really excels in three areas:

  1. increasing the retention and understanding of information already learned in another format by providing reference material
  2. a “drip feed” method for new information that augments content already learned in another format
  3. contextual or just-in-time training for short, focused topics, such as how to change a tire. 

Here's an example of how to make the most of mobile learning. 


Imagine holding a class on the basics of using a word processing tool. You don't want to overwhelm students by introducing every function available, but you want to ensure that they get the basics down and then, once they have time to practice and grow comfortable with the fundamentals, introduce new and advanced features. The initial course will take place in a traditional or online classroom, but the follow-up training to increase retention and introduce additional features one at a time can be handled well through mobile learning. This platform allows students to advance when they are ready and have the support information at their fingertips. 

Mobile learning can also be used for learning measurement by identifying whether information has been retained or applied appropriately and can ensure that learners are solid on concepts in one area before they take on something new. 


One of the great things about mobile learning is that it is popular with both educators and learners. When they have a few minutes of down time, maybe waiting for a meeting to start or sitting in the doctor's office, learners can augment their learning rather than surfing the net. Additionally, if your learners are geographically dispersed, mobile learning is a great way to follow up, whether the follow-up is focused on retention, additions, or updates. 

So, when creating your learning plans, think about the big picture of what you want to achieve for your organization, the requesting party, and the learners. Ask yourself questions that help you consider the best way to address your learning outcomes. What is the order of importance for the things you want to achieve? Are there time constraints on some information but not all? Is the volume or complexity of the information a lot to impart in the time provided?

Look for opportunities to break down the information into components that support your needs and also give learners the best chance of successfully consuming and implementing it when they're on the job. If there are support or supplementary opportunities outside the initial course, then mobile learning might be a great way to help your learners be successful. 

Want to kick start your move to mobile? Join us for an upcoming Mobile Learning Certificate Program.

About the Author

Lynette Van Steinburg lives on a cattle ranch in Southeastern British Columbia, Canada. For the past few years her focus has been on virtual leadership, learning, collaboration and teamwork where she helps leaders and teams be more effective in the virtual workplace. As a Technical Producer, Lynette manages platforms like Webex, Adobe Connect, Collaborate Ultra, and Zoom during online sessions so that the participants can focus on the topic rather than the tool. In her personal life she likes to read, write, do yoga, take pictures, and work with animals.

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