“Phone, keys, wallet,” – we all use some version of a mental list to make sure we don’t forget the essentials on our way out the door each morning. And, make no mistake, our smartphones have increasingly become a staple in our everyday lives. Along the way, they have revolutionized the amount of information available for consumption.
However, does the usage of smartphones extend into our work lives?
Absolutely! One way is with mobile learning, also known as m-Learning. There have been indications that mobile learning will change the way people learn, by bringing the learning to the learner instead of the other way around. This makes sense, as smartphones and other mobile devices are supplanting laptops as our go-to devices. Wi-Fi-connected, they are almost always within arm’s reach.
According to Cisco, at the beginning of 2015, there were more mobile-connected devices than there were humans on the earth! That’s more than 7 billion mobile-connected devices with the capability to deliver knowledge on demand. This represents a huge opportunity for organizations searching for ways to improve their staff training and development programs.
So, the big question is not “should you be using mobile technology,” but rather, “how can you optimize its use in your training program?”
Mobile Learning Within Healthcare
Mobile learning is especially relevant to the healthcare industry because new research and technological advancements create constantly changing best practices for care. As new training is released, staff members need to be not only (re)trained, but also assessed on whether the new material is being put into practice. As Millennials make up a larger percentage of the workforce—they’re expected to make up 50% by 2020—communicating and learning on mobile devices becomes even more important. Thus, mobile training is a valuable solution for organizations that recognize that their staff members require on demand access to up-to-date, relevant information.
Does this mean all training should be replaced by mobile learning? No, not at all! One of the biggest reasons that mobile learning fails to make an impact in learning programs is when mobile devices are used simply for the sake of being “technologically advanced.” Successful learning programs engage employees in a way that helps them retain information, which leads to changed behavior. In the context of healthcare, this changed behavior leads to better care and better outcomes. In some cases, mobile learning may not be the best avenue for information retention for all topics. Mobile learning is most effective when it complements a greater education and training program that is focused on aligning with how people learn most effectively in the real world.
Mobile learning does not mean taking a course designed for a desktop and fitting it on a phone screen.
Training in-person, on a desktop, and on a mobile device should all look different. Each method of delivery has its own advantages and limitations that must be taken into consideration during program design. Although we spend huge amounts of time—think hours not minutes—per day on our mobile devices, this time is broken up into short bursts of attention. We check our phones about 150 times per day! This means that content delivered via mobile device should be short and sweet to match how the device is used. Each learning avenue plays its part so that, used together, the learner can continually process and retain information.
So, What Is Unique to Mobile Learning?
Mobile learning has unique benefits that distinguish it from the alternatives avenues for training.
The very name “mobile” learning embodies the essence that learning is now able to move wherever the learner wants and needs for it to go. Healthcare professionals can learn or relearn quick bites of information on their own time schedule, reducing time away from patient care. Likewise, administrators benefit from the efficiencies of a standard platform; they can quickly distribute pertinent and immediately-accessible information to their employees.
Mobile learning is the perfect avenue to deliver short, easily-digestible bursts of learning, sometimes referenced as micro-learning, which allow healthcare professionals to put information to work immediately. Similarly, short post-training memory checks reinforce previously learned knowledge and help healthcare professionals retain key information. Touchscreen elements assist in engaging the learner, another way to increase retention rates.
One of the differentiating characteristics of smartphones is the instant access to information they offer. We talked about how smartphones are always within arm’s reach, already equipped with Internet access. Therefore, staff can take a refresher course on their mobile device and receive instant feedback on their level of knowledge. Feedback may be positive confirmation about a certain step in a complicated procedure or feedback may be filling in a gap in knowledge that was lost among the other learning avenues. Instant feedback ensures that proper procedure is followed.
Mobile Learning: A New Piece in the Larger Learning Puzzle
By itself, mobile learning cannot bear the full training burden that exists as the healthcare industry tries to provide the best care possible to all patients. However, the benefits of implementing mobile learning as a part of a larger training program are hard to ignore. Moreover, the benefits will continue to grow with future technological advancements.
Mobile learning connects the knowledge people accumulate throughout a training program. Like a conduit, mobile learning paves the way to better understanding and increased retention. All in all, the competitive advantage of mobile learning comes from developing a staff capable of translating learning into changed behavior, which ultimately leads to improved business outcomes.
So, maybe the better question is, WHY are you missing out on mobile learning?
Interested in learning more about how Mobile Learning can transform training programs? Read the whitepaper, “Leveraging Mobile Learner for Employee Engagement and Performance.”