in different territories and jurisdictions. And a lot more!
Translation and localisation. Training has traditionally been organised along parochial lines, but technology has redrawn the map. Today’s increasingly globalised businesses need learning solutions that can scale across organisations and cross geographical boundaries. Mobile learning needs to be multi-language, respectful of cultural differences, and easily adaptable to local conditions and requirements.
Results. Early mobile learning programmes tended to be offered as an additional extra to desktop e-learning, but were not necessarily linked in to the LMS for sending of scores, completions, etc. Bringing mobile into the mainstream means that your mobile architecture needs to cater for full usage tracking, detailed analytics, reports and results.
Integration. Making mobile learning and communications mainstream within your organisation’s provision of learning and knowledge means integration with your IT, and your existing technology architecture for learning, but also with your wider learning strategy. Mobile needs to play a complementary part within the whole where its characteristic strengths can be deployed to greatest effect.
Personalisation. On a personal device, learning has to be more personal too. Users need to perform such activities as saving, tagging, searching, commenting, sharing, and should be able to tag materials as‘favourite’ to create a personalised learning library or toolkit for particular tasks.
So what can you expect to be the shape of your provision to learners? What does good mobile learning look like at this moment in time?
It might be a bit early in the game for a taxonomy of mobile learning types,
but what follows is a suggestion of the type of modules or applications that learners will be accessing on mobile devices, drawn from our own experience of developing mobile learning solutions since 2001.
A mobile learning product set
E-learning on the desktop has a number of characteristic forms – from self-paced modules to virtual classroom. However, mobile learning, due to its particular strengths and limitations, calls for a different, if similar, set of product types.
Nuggets. Self-paced modules of online instruction, the basic unit of e-learning for many years on the desktop, tends to become shorter in m-learning. Learners need brief, digestible nuggets of learning that they can use just-in- time, or as a refresher on particular topics.
Scenario-based learning. Mobile devices are ideally suited to story-driven and game-based forms of learning, so this type of learning application ought to be on your radar. Using a templated approach will help to control the costs that have in the past been associated with this type of learning on the desktop.
Performance support. Mobile tends to make all learning far more just in time, and this category of learning product takes that to a logical extreme,
Figure 1: Mobile service elements Content
App management creation
Resources and templates assembly
Future-proof: HTML5 mobile-friendly content from other tools
App management Analytics
walking learners through a particular process or procedure step by step. LINE’s product for this type of application, known as ‘Checklist’, has been used in Defence to help with maintenance and repair of trucks.
Assessment/quiz. Testing knowledge is a vital part of learning, either for pre- screening learners, for ‘formative’ assessment, or for final summative assessment. While in a desktop environment quizzes will often be part of a learning module, in the case of mobile, due to the ‘nuggetisation’ of learning content, they are far more likely to be used as stand-alone applications. It almost goes without saying that good communication with the LMS, and use of reporting standards such as SCORM, are essential features.
Learnzine. This is a newer and more mobile-specific format – so much so that it doesn’t yet have a generic name: ‘Learnzine’ is just the title we give it at LINE. It makes use of the tablet’s capability to provide an experience analogous to a magazine or an illustrated textbook, but with rich media and interactivity. Apple’s recently announced iBook Textbooks for iPad is an enabler in this genre. LINE has created learnzines using the new iBooks authoring tool.
Dominic Mason, head of mobile, LINE Communications
Box 1: Denuggetising mobile content
There is a tendency with mobile for content to become ‘nuggetised’. Learning content is presented in smaller, discrete units and different functions are performed by different applications (for example, instruction=nugget, assessment=quiz). This potentially atomising tendency is counteracted by applications that bring knowledge and learning together into a single point of access. LINE has two
such products which do this job in a different way.
Mobile hub. This presents diverse learning materials in an organised way, with effective and logical navigation. Learners are primarily search-driven but can ‘favourite’ resources and build their own toolkits.
Mobile academy. This presents all mobile e-learning resources as a single learner journey. Content can be organised into subjects, courses, topics and pages.
Box 2: Mobile readiness checklist
What is mobile’s role?
Internal capability What does success look like?
What mobile devices are targeted?
The service foundations:
Your mobile learning product mix Content management Mobilising current assets Delivery to target devices Support
Additional services (e.g. mobile comms)
Content update in live app App distribution
Gateway & security
App End users
april 2012 e.learning age
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