Blended Learning Still Ticks My Boxes – As Does Mobile Learning Despite What Some Reports May Say!

Blended Learning Still Ticks My Boxes – As Does Mobile Learning Despite What Some Reports May Say!

I always relish reports about the learning trends, and the latest 2015 Good Practise UK Learning Trends Index is a really insightful read, casting light on the challenges and issues being faced by senior Learning and Development practitioners, the people with whom I work!

I was delighted. I was to read in the Trends Index about a rise in the use of technology to deliver learning, with 77% of Learning and Development respondents predicting a rise in their use of technology to deliver learning in the coming six months. Of this number, 48% predict a minor shift, and 29% say it will be a major shift. What’s more – and this is the icing on the cake - 62% of respondents are predicting an increase in spend on learning technologies over the next six months. This clearly indicates that more and more companies are continuing to see and really understand the benefits offered by learning technologies.

But according to the Learning Trends Index, the first initial enthusiasm around mobile learning and its practical uptake has slipped. Other types of learning technologies such as e-learning and online performance support tools are growing, but the use of mobile devices for learning has not gained the traction everyone had first hoped. How so? I don’t think it’s time to put in to the side-line, just yet.

The Mobile Learning Value

Mobile learning apps are very useful in certain situations, we all know that. But take BP, for example. The energy company recognizes the value of mobile learning, and in taking an unconventional approach, has chosen videos, checklists and games to deliver engaging learning content to employees’ mobile devices. The information can be accessed on iPads or smart phones anytime and anywhere. The new apps will be used by BP’s 25,000 business leaders and managers, providing them with support for key “transition points” in their careers. These “transition points” are things like new recruits to the company, someone starting their first management position or moving up a level in the management ladder, or a person moving to a new different department.

I think BP’s use of mobile learning and the development of the new apps, perfectly encapsulates a company’s effective use of the ‘right’ technology, for the the ‘right’ learning style, for the ‘right’ group of people, at the ‘right’ time.

Mobile Learning shouldn’t be used in silo: make it part of a blended approach

First of all, let’s remember that mobile learning is not designed to be an educational tool that works in silo, but as a tool that complements other training measures such as classroom style training and virtual classes.

For example, if one were to choose between a computer and a mobile phone for researching a subject in-depth, mobile learning probably wouldn’t necessarily be the best option. (Note that the BP use of mobile technology is to communicate ‘key learning messages’. ‘Messages’ generally won’t include information that is highly detailed). This being the case, the important thing is that BP is using the most suitable method for the delivery of information to specific members of staff in order that they can optimise the way in which their staff learn. If you visit their website, you’ll see that BP also uses structured courses online learning, mentors and a whole host of other methods for continuing its staff development, including the mobile approach; in  other words, blended learning.

Mobile learning was the big buzzword in 2014 and despite what the Learning Trends Index has highlighted, I believe that with more organisations making mobile a part of their learning strategy and as mobile technology evolves and improves, stories of success will increase. The effects of using mobile for learning and development will become more apparent in terms of cost savings and ROI, and this will result in more organisations choosing to incorporate it into their learning blends.

In order that they might target the growing diversity in the workplace, more and more of the companies with whom I work with are looking at new training models that connect and integrate a variety of tools to meet their training needs.  These blended learning models need companies and their training providers to focus on optimising the desired outcomes of learning objectives by applying the ‘right’ technologies to the ‘right’ learning style to the ‘right’ group of people at the ‘right’ time. Again, back to BP and its training app investment - it’s one of a whole range of methods used by the company.

Really effective blended learning goes beyond good, basic training to a more systematic education that delivers ongoing learning within the workplace. By developing learning strategies that incorporate a wide variety of learning activities such as classroom instruction, virtual training, or mentoring, companies can give staff greater, more flexible learning and improved performance support. And isn’t that the holy grail for an Learning and Development practitioner?