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Harbinger Foresight: The Future of Learning is Mobile

With the rise of the gig economy, and use of mobile phones (by 2020, nearly half of the world is projected to have a smart phone) it’s only natural for learning to have a stronger presence here as well. As a trainer and instructional designer, it’s been interesting to see the evolution of using such devices to learn. In fact, 97 per cent of elementary schools and 100 per cent of secondary schools have reported to have at least some teachers use technology to communicate with their students. You’re also very likely to find young children or toddlers frequently using such devices on a regular basis to watch videos or play games. It’s quite impressive to see them navigating these devices so easily and I’ll be interested in seeing how this new way of learning impacts this generation in the long-term.

So, what makes learning via mobile so popular? Well there are several reasons including flexibility. Flexibility in today’s world is key.

As I mentioned above, the gig economy is thriving. More people are taking on temporary positions or contract work because of the opportunities that mobile has provided us with. Work can now be done from just about anywhere, and learning is the same. Many of our clients today have roles that require them to be on the move, or to work remotely and it’s important for us to take all these factors into consideration when we design and develop training. While we will always recommend a blended training approach (in-person, online modules etc.), we need to make sure that we are developing training that is accessible and incorporates new channels like mobile to be relevant and effective.

Another reason for the rising popularity in mobile learning is the ability to engage and collaborate digitally. There are numerous tools available today, including Slack and Yammer. Both are great supplemental tools to use alongside online training courses and help to encourage interaction between people. The best learning experiences are ones that involve two-way communication, and allow you to learn from your peers and trainer. I’m always amazed at the new things I learn during my in-person sessions from attendees.

Mobile learning has also been noted to have higher engagement. If you’re anything like me, getting notifications and adding tasks to my calendar are incredibly helpful in ensuring I get stuff done. It’s also normal for most people to push training activities on the back burner so that they can focus on other high priority work, making notifications and reminders an important piece to ensuring people complete their training. It also allows us to track completion.

What’s more is expectations are changing. There are literally millions of people using phones for just about anything, so it’s not surprising to find that they want everything that is available on a computer, to be available on their phones. People today are regularly using them to learn; our team particularly enjoys Ted Talks and Good Reads. There are also many of us who frequently use Google or YouTube to figure out how to do something. Podcasts have also grown in popularity and are often used for training purposes.

As you can see, there are several reasons why I predict that mobile learning will continue to grow however it’s important to note that there is still a long way to go for this to become the norm. Even though almost half of the world possesses a phone, you cannot forget about the other half and must take their accessibility into consideration.



Colin Carmon-Murphy Sr. Financial Analyst / Consultant Toronto



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