Personalized Content For Mobile Learning: Benefits
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Personalized Content For Mobile Learning: Benefits

Today’s learners have become accustomed to personalized content and instant communication. They are constantly looking for information relevant to their own interests. However, more often than not, we neglect to tailor learning content to the individual needs and learning styles of learners. The result is the one-size-fits-all learning strategy rampant in corporate training today.

Personalized learning means understanding the different ways learners learn and shaping the training around that understanding. Personalized learning is per person; each learner receives the help they need, to learn/acquire the skills needed to succeed at work.

Using Mobile Learning To Tailor Personalized Learning Experiences

1. Flexible Schedule

Not all learners will be available for training all the time. Work commitments get in the way sometimes. But training is mandatory, and learners cannot skip it citing time constraints. This forces them to take time out of their busy schedules to attend training, increasing their stress and reducing overall productivity.

How Mobile Learning Can Help

Forcing learners to undergo training is a strict no-no. A simple way to get around this is to provide instant, searchable, on-the-go access to learning, regardless of time/place.

Mobile devices are everywhere, and today’s workforce is filled with millennials who prefer learning through YouTube videos, subreddits on Reddit, Facebook groups on their iPhones, Android smartphones, and iPads. Organizations can take advantage of this millennial "obsession" with electronic gadgets by hosting courses on a mobile-friendly Learning Management System (LMS)/portal, making learning accessible on the go.

Learning that is available 24/7 becomes personal and organic. Wherever the learner goes, the learning travels with them (like Mary’s lamb), and learners have the liberty to access the training according to their convenience. The LMS can also be automated to notify learners about training updates instead of them waiting for the next training session.

Note: Some companies have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy which mandates learners to bring their own devices to work to access learning. This, as opposed to an organization distributing mobile devices, is quite cost-effective as companies only need to bear the cost of creating and hosting courses online.

2. Learner Agency

Learner agency refers to learning through meaningful activities that are relevant to learners. It gives learners the choice in how they learn.

In any given training, there will be some learners wishing to skip some training content because they are already familiar with it. This is usually not allowed and learners are forced to go through the entire content, creating the feeling that they are not in control of their own learning.

How Mobile Learning Can Help

Make sure to keep your mobile learning courses short. Combine mLearning with microlearning: divide the entire course into smaller mobile-friendly learning modules that learners can access on their mobile devices. Each of these microlearning mModules should cover one learning objective, so learners can easily distinguish between what they know and what they don’t.

You could further divide the content based on the learner’s job role, geographical region, preferred language, department, and so on.

Also, if you are shifting from Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to online learning, consider structuring the content as a curriculum of micro mobile modules for easy, on-the-go access. But whatever you do, make sure you enable learners to choose what they wish to learn.

3. Unique Learning Styles

All great learning programs are unique, but all bad learning programs have one thing in common—they tend to be plain, single-format courses with little or no interaction.

Some of us learn best by listening to an audiobook or a podcast, while others may prefer watching an animated video of the same content. Corporate learners are no different. Years of research in L&D has shown that not all learners learn the same way and that a single-format, text-based learning leaves many learners unhappy.

How Mobile Learning Can Help

Mobile devices are incredibly versatile and powerful, equipped with advanced multimedia capabilities, which enables you to deliver the same learning content in various formats.

  • Audio-based courses (of 5-10 minutes each)
  • Animated videos (how-to videos, scenario-based videos)
  • Whiteboard animations
  • Microlearning nuggets (for bite-sized learning)
  • Game-based learning modules (with scoring systems and leaderboards)
  • Infographics, eBooks, flashcards (for performance support)

A training program in different formats guarantees a personalized learning [1] experience, ensuring all learning preferences are accommodated so that no one feels left out.

What’s even more exciting is that all these formats can be used for any type of training, be it sales training, compliance training, product training, or safety training.

A word of caution, though. Whichever format you choose for your mLearning courses, make sure that all media buttons are clearly visible and in clickable areas, and no heavy multimedia elements are used that can cause the screen to freeze.

4. Targeted Learning

Simply offering generic courses to all learners is not going to equip them with the required skillsets. Within the personalized learning environment, you need to closely understand each learner’s performance, their learning habits—the "learning DNA," if you will.

How Mobile Learning Can Help

  • Host your training courses (eLearning or mobile learning) on a SCORM-driven LMS to monitor, track, and report learner activity. Continuously monitor each learner’s progress toward clearly defined performance-based learning objectives.
  • Generate "learner profiles" using the tracking data. These learner profiles offer insights into each learner’s strengths, needs, motivations, and progress throughout their learning journey to provide the best possible solutions.
  • Offer customized mLearning paths that respond and adapt to the learner’s learning progress, motivations, and goals.
  •  Provide consistent support in the form of additional material and assess them using mobile-friendly assessments.

5. Post-Training Support

Personalized learning does not end when training ends; it follows learners outside the training to their jobs, offering support whenever they need it.

It is necessary to offer performance support [2] and reinforcement training as part of the training these days. That’s because today’s learners are prone to fall victim to the forgetting curve and forget most of the learning over time if it is not reinforced. This can lead to poor employee performance and loss in productivity.

How Mobile Learning Can Help

  • For reinforcement
    Deliver periodic mLearning modules to refresh learners’ memories of the learning acquired in the training. Use infographics, eBooks, short videos, micro assessments, any mLearning format to summarize the training. The key is to refresh the big picture, not take them through the entire training again.
  • For performance support
    Again, the idea is to offer at-a-glance information to help the learner get the job done. Stick to mLearning formats which do not take too much time and offer only the required information in the best way possible.

Here are some examples of mLearning formats for performance support:

  • Interactive PDFs (searchable for instant access to required information)
  • Infographics (a mix of images and text for factual, concise information)
  • Flow charts (to describe processes)
  • Checklists
  • Short how-to videos (to demonstrate procedures)
  • FAQs (answers from SMEs/top performers)
  • Reference tools

6. Social Learning

Collaboration has always been an integral part of the workplace, but thanks to the millennial workers, the need for informal learning (that occurs outside the formal training environments such as ILT, eLearning) has picked up quite a pace.

For millennial learners, training does not just happen in a formal environment. It also occurs when they work/collaborate with their peers and colleagues. These are learners who like working in groups and communities, who believe in sharing resources and helping each other out in crises.

It is not surprising then, that they also look for collaborative opportunities within learning environments. That is why it is important to include social learning [3] opportunities in the training to offer a space where learners can co-learn.

How Mobile Learning Can Help

Mobile learning makes it easy for learners to collaborate with each other irrespective of where they are located.

  • Let groups of learners collaborate on a project entirely on the mobile. This could include them going to different locations to solve challenges, or to record a video on their solution to a common problem at the workplace.
  • Offer game-based mobile learning where individual learners compete with their peers/colleagues for points and to top the leaderboard. Also, allow them to share their scores and badges on social media for everyone to see.
  • Include chat rooms and message forums as part of your mobile learning strategy where learners can openly/anonymously discuss their job challenges/problems, share best practices, discuss training content, etc. These message forums can be a good performance support tool too.
  •  Allow them to book a consultation (within the course) with one of the SMEs to seek counsel from regarding work-related challenges.

Personalized learning should never be an afterthought in your training strategy. Instead, it must guide your training design right from the start.

References:

[1] Personalized Learning: 5 Ways to Engage the Millennial Workforce

[2] Performance Support in Corporate Training (Part1): The What and the Why

[3] 5 Creative Ideas to Foster Social Learning in Online Training

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