From the past some years, organisations are keen to integrate and implement mobile learning (aka m-learning) into their learning strategy. While it is true that mobile learning offers considerable benefits to build and support a collaborative and communicative learning environment among the learners. , we also need to look into the challenges that are associated with mobile learning. Understanding the challenges related to mobile learning will help us to smoothen the implementation process as well as planning process for mobile learning.
Hence let’s look at some of the key challenges in m-learning.
1. Is your organisation ready for mobile learning?
While mobile learning is increasingly adopted by organisations at large, it is important to ensure that the organization is ready to implement mobile learning. The organizational readiness needs to be assessed on two important softer parameters which are the cultural and social fabric.
How will your organisation respond to implementing mobile learning?
The culture of the organization is a very important factor in implementing mobile learning. For example if the organizational culture is not a pro technology culture and still relies on “paper culture” heavily, then caution should be exercised while planning for mobile learning. Similarly the top management should be in favor of promoting technology based learning in the organization and their buy in for mobile learning becomes an important consideration.
Another contributing factor to the culture is the social fabric, which can be attributed to the learners willingness to shift to newer ways of learning. If the learners are shying away from the new technology, you need to think twice before implementing mobile learning.
Here the L&D team has to walk the extra mile to educate the employees about the benefits of mobile learning and motivate them to shift to mobile learning. I recommend to conduct a trial run of the same on selected group of target audience before implementing it at large
The varying screen sizes of the mobile devices
The mobile phones of today comes in various sizes and screens which brings a challenge to the developers in designing the modules. It is essential for designers to design e-learning courses effectively for mobile devices or with the mobile first approach. Additionally it is also recommend that the learning contents or the mobile apps should be simple and easy to navigate across.
Know the devices
While designing the e-learning modules, the organization should be aware of the capability and functions of the devices. For example, the Apple devices like iPhone, iPad etc don’t support flash contents, hence the developers need to keep this in mind before developing the e-learning modules in flash formats.
Risk of distractions
While designing the e-learning modules for the mobile devices the developers need to ensure that the learners are not easily distracted. The developers hence need to ensure that they are able to develop quality contents that can hook up the learners.
For example,while going through the modules on your mobile screen your phone beeps twice distracting the learning experience. The learner loses the attention here as he/she switches the focus.
Technical difficulties affect the implementation and integration of mobile learning in an organisation. Let’s understand what are some of the key technical challenges.
Availability of latest technology
The availability of latest technology is a very important factor in ensuring the smooth implementation of mobile learning. For example, the popular mobile operating system -’Android’ is also the most often used operating system for tablet computers worldwide. But it needs to be understood that only very small proportion of the devices are updated to the latest version of the OS. This means that majority of the mobile devices are still running on an outdated technology.
The developers need to take this issue seriously and ensure that the modules are playable across the devices without any issue.
The organizations must ensure that they have the adequate and recommended infrastructure facilities to ensure that mobile learning can be implemented successfully. The organization needs to decide the platform, the delivery methods, file formats etc.
For example, the organisations should have a supporting back end servers or LMS to host the data and manage the traffic. The organisation should also decide on other options like whether
They need to develop standalone mobile apps etc. Hence I recommend to have a strong clarity on these technical challenges to ensure that mobile learning is implemented smoothly.
Fast Internet connection
HD, Ultra HD, 8K etc are some of the very popular high quality formats of today that promises stunning high quality visuals for the viewers. But this requires a stable and speedy internet connection for an uninterrupted learning experience. Hence if your contents include such high resolution images or other multimedia contents, it is recommended to check and ensure the stability and speed of the internet connectivity of the users. For example, if the majority of the workers are located at remote locations where the connectivity is an issue, It is recommended to make the learning contents light.
Maintenance and administration
Smartphones, iPads and tablets all these are electronic devices that can fail at times .Even the mobile learning apps that are developed also requires proper and regular maintenance to ensure that it is bug free. The responsibility of the organisation doesn’t end after implementing mobile learning as they are equally responsible to ensure the maintenance and support of the technical environment. I strongly recommend to enable a feedback system that can collect timely feedback from the learners which can help in the easy maintenance and administration of the system.
With increasing cyber threats, ensuring the security to the mobile devices has become a daunting task. The organisation need to properly train and make the learners aware about the increasing cyber threats and recommend the ways to avoid such attacks.
By 2022, it is estimated that 1.87 billion people will be mobile employees, comprising 42.5% of the total global workforce. Looking at these statistics, mobile learning is not a luxury anymore and in fact, it is a necessity for the organisations to implement mobile learning.
With rapidly developing technology resulting in faster internet speeds and affordable smartphones, Mobile Learning is sure to stay. While there are various benefits, the organisation needs to keep in mind of the above challenges to implement mobile learning in the right way .