What is mLearning and how can it impact training strategies?
With the release of our eLearning app a few months back, and through various conversations with customers, we’ve been learning so much about the digital learning and training landscape, and how continued learning impacts company culture and employee engagement. Hint: it makes a HUGE difference in employee satisfaction, retention rates and a company’s bottom line. We’ve also uncovered a lot of great insights about mLearning – or mobile learning – and how it’s gearing up to be a game changer for the learning and development landscape. Here’s a look at what mLearning is, and why it could matter for your business.
What is mLearning?
As the name implies, mLearning, or “mobile learning,” is the act of learning on a personal electronic device. mLearning enables people to access educational or training material from anywhere. Given that an estimated 80% of the global workforce is “deskless”, approximately 3 billion people, this has placed a higher precedent on mobile access to training and company support for people who are in the field. By offering that kind of support that is accessible from anywhere, companies are building a connection between their business and their deskless workforce, which is hugely important to employee development and satisfaction.
Who uses mLearning, and why?
Any industry that requires training or certifications for a deskless workforce — think construction, restaurants, hospitality, healthcare, retail and transportation, are likely to consider the move to mobile-based learning platforms that are designed to inform, educate and retain their workforce. Some of these industries have a notoriously challenging time with employee retention, namely the hospitality, retail and fast food industries. By creating accessible learning and development content that supports employee growth and success, companies are able to reduce employee churn, and save their business thousands of dollars (per employee) on finding, hiring and training their talent.
How is mLearning different than eLearning?
eLearning is defined as education that’s conducted on an electronic device. eLearning platforms are generally designed in modules that are a designated length, or are provided with a specific amount of content to complete. mLearning is often less structured and more focused on environmental learning, i.e. learning with context. Since mLearning is taking place on a mobile device, it can also often leverage the features and functionalities of smartphones, making it even more interactive. For example, if a training is happening within a warehouse, and someone was being trained on the location and placement of items, they could take a quick photo with their phone and upload it to the app as part of their response. mLearning allows for user-generated content that is created within the context of a working environment. This kind of contextual training is often considered a highly valuable tool that complements (or, in some cases, replaces) training that takes place out-of-context in a classroom.
What are the benefits of mLearning?
mLearning provides the opportunity to learn at the point of need, anytime and anywhere. Learning at the point of need enables an employee to solve a challenge that they are currently facing (and find the correct way to do it) in real time. Instead of learning in the classroom, out of context, and then being expected to retain and call upon the correct information in the moment, mLearning creates a more interactive experience where someone can learn about a task immediately before performing it, and complete exercises that drive the point home. This enables someone to do that task better, and feel that they have the appropriate information and support needed. Additionally, there’s simply the matter of convenience. By enabling people to learn anytime, anywhere, companies see an increase in training completion rates.
What are the challenges of mLearning?
One of the complications with mLearning could lie in the fact that many deskless employees aren’t on a company-owned phone or company data plan, so the delivery and consumption of training are using their personal data plan, unless they are using wifi. For industries like restaurants and hospitality, it’s more likely that employees have access to wifi at work, whereas the transportation industry, they might not.
Overall, mLearning is considered a highly effective tool, specifically for deskless industries. Given the exorbitant cost of losing an employee, in terms of lost productivity, and the cost of finding new talent, there’s a compelling case for investing in employee retention tools that will not only help retain employees, but support them in developing skills for success.