Mobile microlearning; a bite-sized solution to big learning challenges?
According to Statista, there are now 3.8 billion smartphone users in the world. Growth has been impressive - and continues - since 2016, penetration has risen from less than 34% to over 48% of the global population.
The increased usage of smartphones and the availability of mobile communication networks have created exciting new possibilities for learning. DScout data highlights that, on average, a person spends nearly three hours per day on their smartphone, touching the screen more than 2,600 times. We’ve gone from using our mobiles to simply make and receive calls to being able to retrieve information on any subject at the touch of a button.
As our attention spans shrink due to the modern immediacy and instant gratification of the internet, traditional teaching methods become less and less relevant. Having employees attend long training courses decreases work productivity, consumes working hours and increases spending, and yet does not guarantee subject matter understanding or engagement.
Mobile learning has grown exponentially in recent years, coinciding with the prevalence of smartphones and the level of dependency individuals increasingly place on the technology. It’s no surprise that learning has found a successful place in the mobile world; technological innovations have driven demand for new content and dynamic approaches to training that better align with user priorities and usage patterns. The pressure on organisations to improve learning architecture is relentless; businesses need to put employees in charge of the learning experience and foster a shared culture of learning. Modern mobile microlearning content is delivered in small, bite-sized chunks; it’s equally about the mobility of the learner and the context in which the learner operates.
Mobile microlearning targets a new audience: learners outside offices, using smartphones to access fully-flexible, anywhere, anytime training. Content, carefully adapted for the smaller smartphone screens, takes the form of micro-lessons - generally less than five minutes long and focussed on a single defined idea or topic.
The anytime, anyplace learning opportunities mobiles provide offer several clear and immediate benefits. Mobile microlearning can efficiently cater to users’ need for learning in situations of limited time (for example while travelling) or in real time (perhaps while solving a problem on site – “just in time” learning). Mobiles have changed workplace training by converting worker dead-time (like waiting at airports) into a productive activity. Organisations can effectively focus on this learning style to support a workforce that is comprised of multitask-orientated, fast-paced and digitally adaptive learners.
Smartphones provide a powerful platform for tailored, individual-specific and highly personalised training. Micro interactions on personal devices enable users to take control and ownership of their learning journey, without information overload. By breaking content into digestible nuggets (as short as possible, but as extensive as necessary) with a high level of interaction and instant feedback, engagement is far higher and is supported by research across learning psychology and short-term memory.
Leong et al’s “Review of the Trend of Microlearning" (Journal of Work-Applied Management December, 2020) identified that the key benefits of using microlearning include:
- Better retention of concepts
- Improving learning ability and performance
- Better engagement for learners
- Improving learners' motivation
- Engaging in collaborative learning
We live in times of volatility, uncertainty and complexity – characterised by change. The ongoing shift to new and agile ways of working is transforming the entire workplace, including learning methods. The current model for corporate training just isn’t usually ready for this pivot towards mobile microlearning. Existing solutions rely heavily on face-to-face, classroom-based training or on adapted old-school e-learning programs that can’t be easily accessed via smartphones. They’re often dull, hard to use and generic; learner engagement and recall is low.
Mobile microlearning can address the challenges of a dispersed, impatient, agile and tech-savvy workforce; it is the future of learning.
Leong, K., Sung,A., Au, D. and Blanchard, C. (17 December 2020) “A review of the trend of microlearning”, Journal of Work-Applied Management
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