Mobile Learning– it’s easy, it’s intuitive and it definitely gives good returns on investment. With many organizations already using it and others beginning to take the plunge, mlearning seems to have taken off well– thanks to rapid innovation in cloud computing and widespread adoption of BYOD policies. Already, combined tablet and smartphone shipments surpass those of desktops and notebooks. However, the inherent characteristics of a mobile pose a few challenges to instructional and content designers in avoiding the risk of defeating its purpose of learning.
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This is both a challenge and an opportunity. There is a lack of interoperability between PCs and laptops on one hand & mobiles on the other because of different technical standards like SCORM for example. What runs on a PC may become different and less useful when it appears on a mobile. However, interoperability also creates opportunities for making use of existing expertise in e-learning and the opportunity to merge with established infrastructures.
4. Form Factor
A is using Apple iOS5, B loves his latest Blackberry while C is still on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich version. With BYOD on the rise, it is highly unlikely that your employees will be using the phones with the same configurations (unless of course, if you’re willing to gift them all with one!). Now the challenge here is this- some devices will be better (larger memory, bigger screen, faster processor) than the others. Creating content that functions equally well on all devices takes careful planning and inclusive designing.
3. Smarter Content Designing
Once you’ve decided what content has to be taken mobile; the next task is to do it smartly. Put too much information on each slide, and your learners will have a hard time in retaining information in their cluttered minds. Instructional designers need to put themselves in the shoes of the end users to dynamically tailor their experience to all kinds of mobile devices in a visual context that makes sense for each device.
It would take no rocket scientist’s brains to compare the level of interactivity between a PC and a mobile. If you think mlearning was just about making all your online content available on the mobile, let this be a wakeup call. A good mlearning strategy lists and describes what specific content would be transferred to mobiles so that it boosts interactivity rather than limiting it. If learners think it’s hard to find or interact with LMS functionality, they won’t use it. That’s why responsive design is essential for mobile web environments.
1. Limited LMS support
Currently, most of the LMSs are better suited to the desktop platform. For a smooth user experience, LMSs need to be tailor-made to work flawlessly across all mobile operating systems- iOS, Blackberry, Android etc. Doing so delivers the best user experience and lets users take advantage of mobile functionalities like calendar sync and GPS without any hassles. LMSs must be designed to offer full-featured native apps rather than simply using the web apps so that they can function optimally irrespective of the hardware manufacturer or display dimensions of the device.
Identifying the challenges is a good first step before you start with your mLearning strategy. A carefully crafted and detailed strategy that explicitly defines user content and design intended for mlearning prevents bottlenecks while designing and pays well in the long run.