The advent of mobile learning commenced when people began to use mobile technology on a regular basis. Smartphones, tablets and laptops reinvented the way people access and use information, giving rise to the possibility of disbursing knowledge on these devices.
Over the years as mobile technology evolved, new mobile learning tools began to emerge. In fact, a recent study revealed that 47% of organizations are now using mobile devices to support formal learning. There are several benefits of m-Learning for both learners and educators. Packed with interactive features such as instant chat capability, mobile learning tools allow learners to exchange information and interact with educators and other learners in real time. This nurtures communication and collaboration among both parties, enabling them to make the most out of community-based learning.
Despite its relatively young lifespan, mobile learning is creating a lasting influence on how we learn. Here are some of the key mobile learning trends witnessed in 20161.
- The replacement of Flash with HTML5
One of the major trends witnessed in 2016 was the large-scale adoption of HTML5 and the gradual phasing out of Flash. HTML5 proved to be quicker and more versatile than Flash, which resulted in it slowly replacing Flash by offering m-Learning content developers better and engaging content creation options. HTML5 has slowly but surely taken the reigns from its Flash forerunner. The primary reason for this is the fact that HTML5 is accessible on all devices and internet browsers. On the other hand, Flash is not mobile-friendly.
As mobile learning is on the path of dynamic growth, m-Learning professionals are constantly on the lookout for tools that cater to the needs of mobile learners. HTML5 is adaptable, fast and versatile. It enables m-learning developers to create collaborative and appealing learning experiences. Another reason for the decline in popularity of Flash in m-learning is the phasing out of Flash players by many browsers. A mobile learning course that is flash-based has a limited audience reach.
- Customization of m-learning through Big Data applications
2016 was the year for Big Data app analytics. With Big Data, mobile learning companies could get a closer look at learner preferences and expand the overall mobile training strategy. Big Data analytics enabled m-Learning developers to gauge mobile traffic, device usage and thereby determine the strengths and weaknesses of different mobile learning modules. The findings of Big Data analytics help tailor the mobile learning experience and improve the content elements that do not meet expectations. The biggest beneficiaries of Big Data analytics are mobile learning apps. In-app analytics are complete with built-in reporting features that monitor live app usage and deliver learning patterns in real time.
- Mobile optimized design
The increased movement for courses from desktops to mobile devices necessitated the creation of responsive course design this year. Design that automatically adjust to the screen size and resolution of the device is called mobile optimized design. A mobile optimized design modifies the location of the images, text blocks and overall page layout based on the device it is being viewed on. This ensures that the entire audience receives the same experience, irrespective of the device they use. For example, learners using mobile phones, tablets and even wearable tech gadgets will receive the same information as desktop users.
This device-agnostic design trend finds its roots in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend in workplaces that created the need for catering design and content that work equally well on all devices.
- The advent of wearable technology devices
Google Glass, Oculus Rift, Apple Watch, and Android Wear – a few of the wearable devices that are available in the market today are becoming more and more popular around the world. These devices not only are user-friendly but are affordable too. What’s more? Wearable gadgets were seen playing a significant role in the m-Learning space this year as these devices transformed the way users access and acquire new information.
Wearable technology devices have the potential to use virtual reality tools and make simulations into interactive and dynamic experiences in online training atmospheres. For example, instead of simply reading about sales and marketing tools, employees can now interact with virtual customers, ace their negotiation skills and learn every step in the sales process by using an augmented reality device.
- On-time mobile support
Most learners gain access to learning material during the duration of the course but lose all the information once the course is complete. Very often they need access to reference materials, such as user manuals, after the completion of online training. Having mobile support allows them to use the information that they have learned while they are on the job. This helps them do their job effectively and carry out critical tasks without having to step away from their workstations.
Thus, on-time mobile support was a major trend for 2016 and will continue to be in the coming year. On-time mobile support is an invaluable tool for organizations with a geographically dispersed workforce. For example, members of an on-field sales force can access product details, webinars, and online exercises on the go. Thus, they can stay abreast with the latest information and help clients make informed buying decisions.
- Learning management systems powered by geo-location feature
Geo-location feature has enabled m-Learning developers to deliver relevant training to a global audience this year. By knowing the learner’s location one can deliver the suitable mobile learning course or mobile courseware that is relevant to that geography. For example, a learner in India will be able to access a mobile learning course with Indian examples and online activities that are culturally relevant. It can also be useful when designing geography-based online content such as training centers near you, or regional surveys. It is important that geo-location must be paired with localization when catering to international markets. This typically involves detailed learner research to understand the customs, societal norms, and backgrounds of online learners in the region.
Mobile learning has proved to have numerous benefits for both learners and educators. As per a recent report, 75% of mobile learners have quoted “convenience” and “time management” as chief benefits of mobile learning. There is a testified 45% less time spent in training and a 0% loss in comprehension. While mobile learning technology has resulted in exciting new learning development opportunities, it has a long way to go with new developments and increased adoption yet to be witnessed.