The Challenges of Mobile Learning and How to Overcome Them
Mobile learning offers benefits and opportunities, but there are challenges as well. Those challenges need to be acknowledged and, if proper steps are taken, can usually be overcome.
This is important as the benefits of mobile learning are substantial. They include:
- Giving learners the flexibility to complete training courses on the go
- Improving engagement and training effectiveness as learners can complete courses at a time that best suits them
- Gives greater ownership to learners which also helps to enhance the effectiveness of the training
- Most learners are familiar with mobile devices and are comfortable using them
- Mobile learning is particularly appealing to younger generations
So, what are the challenges of designing e-learning content primarily for mobile devices like phones and tablets? More importantly, how can you overcome these challenges?
Challenge: Data Security
This is often the biggest concern, particularly if the approach involves BYOD – bring your own device. In other words, where learners complete training on personal phones rather than company-owned devices.
The first step when considering security is to assess the risk. After all, different training topics will carry different levels of risk.
For example, there may less risk with topics like improving problem-solving or time management skills than there is with training on a sensitive internal company procedure. This is because training on topics like problem-solving and time-management are often generic rather than company-specific.
Even with company-specific training, you may not need to include sensitive company data, reducing the risk.
In addition to assessing the security risk, you need to review or put in place effective security policies. You may also need to involve your IT team to improve or adapt procedures. An example would be implementing two-factor authentication.
After all the above, you may have topics that you decide are unsuitable for mobile learning. You should still keep an open mind with other topic areas, however.
Challenge: Development and Design Capabilities
Developing e-learning modules mainly for mobile devices is a specialised skill, so you might not have the capability in-house. Hiring a professional e-learning developer in Saudi Arabia or the UAE is the solution.
You will get all the benefits of using a professional developer, including the ability to create engaging and effective mobile learning content.
Challenge: Mobile Devices Have Small Screens
Have a look at a social media platform like LinkedIn on your phone and then on a computer. It looks better on the phone, doesn’t it?
With the right skills, it is possible to create professional, attractive, and highly functional e-learning content for mobile devices. Therefore, the small screen shouldn’t be a barrier. In fact, in the hands of the right developer, it can be an advantage.
Challenge: Learner Supervision
Will learners really complete training courses without being supervised? Will they do the training properly or will they rush through it so it can be marked as complete?
Both the above are concerns for managers. There are a few ways to overcome this challenge.
The first is to use e-learning analytics not only to check if a learner has completed a training module, but to also look at their scores and feedback responses. You can also check for improvements in their performance or a change in their behaviour in the weeks and months after the completion of the training.
It can also help if you establish and nurture a learning culture in your organisation, where training and professional development are welcomed and encouraged.
Challenge: Compatibility Issues
Your team might use different types of devices, especially if they are using personally owned phones or tablets. This can create compatibility issues where the training may not work on some devices.
A professional e-learning developer will be able to mitigate this by making your training compatible with as many types of devices as possible. You should also consider making the e-learning module responsive so it can be completed on laptops and computers. This gives learners with compatibility issues another option.
Challenge: Learner Distractions
Will your team be overly distracted if they are completing the mobile learning course in their own home or another non-work location?
Firstly, mobile learning can just as easily be completed on company premises as any other location.
That said, there are distractions in the home environment. In general, however, people tend to be responsible when working from home and are just as effective and productive as when they are in the workplace.
Challenge: Maintaining Work-Life Balance
This point follows on from the previous one as you might find that providing online training impacts the work-life balance of some of your employees, i.e. completing a training course during their own time rather than in working hours.
Helping learners find time during work hours might be necessary in this situation.
Challenge: Measuring Return on Investment
While the method of delivery is different, measuring return on investment for mobile learning should be the same as for any other training delivery method. Here are some examples:
- Assess learners to check their understanding of the topic.
- Assess performance improvement over time using objective measurements like increased sales, improved Customer Satisfaction Score, etc
- Assess behavioural change using subjective methods such as getting feedback from supervisors and line managers
- If the training is on a compliance topic, assess whether you have achieved your compliance goals
- Review the total costs associated with the training to identify savings made
- Assess learner satisfaction
Mobile learning won’t be appropriate in all situations and for all topics, but it can be hugely beneficial to the training and development strategy in your organisation. As with all methods of delivering training, there are challenges to overcome. With the right approach, overcoming these challenges is practical, cost-effective, and achievable.