Mobile Learning

Mobile learning: learning success to go

With our constant companion, the smartphone, we can not only communicate or work, but also successfully learn. We show how mobile learning works and why it makes sense.

It is half past seven in the morning. We are sitting in the subway, on our way to work. We let our gaze wander through the packed car, but it is not returned. All around us sit a bunch of smombies. Their eyes fix on the smartphones in their hands, on which they are frantically tapping away.

We all know such situations. Sometimes we become smombies ourselves (a portmanteau of “smartphone” and “zombie”), as the smartphone has become an indispensable and multifunctional everyday companion. We use it to communicate, check messages, manage our love life or work. From an e-learning point of view, however, another possible use is particularly interesting: the smartphone can also be a training institution – keyword: mobile learning (also “mobile learning” or “m-learning”). Mobile learning is part of e-learning and means learning with mobile devices. Or as de Witt and Sieber would put it scientifically: Mobile Learning means the intelligent combination of technological possibilities and didactic goals. So it may be that the smombies on our morning commute aren’t scrolling mindlessly through their feeds at all, but learning. In fact, mobile learning is one of the emerging e-learning trends. Below, we take a look at why mobile learning is growing in popularity and address strengths, weaknesses, and trends.

Strengths and limitations of mobile learning

We have to say one thing up front: As e-learning professionals, we are naturally convinced of mobile learning. Nevertheless, it is also part of our job to accept and point out the limitations of this teaching/learning method. That’s why we’ll now turn first and foremost to the benefits of mobile learning. After that, we will look at the cases in which it is better to use other methods.

Now to the strengths: Mobile learning is considered to be an extremely efficient way of learning, as the constant availability of the smartphone means that learning can take place regardless of time and location. Waiting times or journeys on public transport can easily be used for learning. Furthermore, mobile learning is ideally suited to consolidate what has already been learned in the long term. This is made possible by the popular e-didactic approach of microlearning or the use of learning nuggets in mobile learning. Small learning units keep attention and motivation high, which ensures better learning success. Another advantage of mobile learning has to do with the end device used for learning: A wide variety of media formats – images, videos, audio files, etc. – can be displayed on smartphones. Gamification elements can also be integrated very well. This variety of media formats enables a didactically varied learning experience, which also pays off in terms of learning success.

Let’s now turn our attention to the limitations of mobile learning: Mobile learning cannot fully replace traditional teaching/learning offerings. Rather, learning with smartphones, tablets & co. serves as a support for the preparation or follow-up of a learning offer. In addition, not every topic is suitable for mobile preparation. Complex, multi-layered topics that require professional explanation or context embedding are rather ill-suited for mobile learning. Other disadvantages of mobile learning generally cited include the increased likelihood of distraction, for example, from push messages, and dependence on a stable Internet connection.

Trends in Mobile Learning

Companies and e-learning providers have come to appreciate the potential that mobile learning offers. The market is growing and mobile learning is constantly evolving. Although it is not possible to foresee in detail where the journey will take us in view of the rapid pace of technological development, some trends in mobile learning can nevertheless be identified. It can therefore be assumed that smartphones will establish themselves even more strongly as personal learning portals. With numerous personalization options and millions of apps, learners can customize their smartphones to meet their learning needs. In addition, there are (relatively) new technological possibilities. For example, augmented reality can add valuable content to a learning experience. The smartphone camera can be used to extend the learners’ real environment. For example, if you are standing in front of a historical building, background information and data can be displayed with the help of augmented reality. Another trend: AI-based chatbots. Artificial intelligence can turn chatbots into digital coaches in your pocket, simulating conversations or asking learners questions.

At skillbest, we are already integrating elements of these trends into our e-learning offerings. We are happy to transform your learning content into an effective mobile learning experience. There are many ways to do this. The best way to see for yourself.