Look, we get it. Mobile learning sounds great. In fact, the thought of doing anything on mobile sounds great. We may never have gotten hoverboards, flying cars, or even pizza rehydrators—but we do have crazy powerful computers we can carry in our pockets. So there's a pretty understandable urge for anything and everything to go mobile. It feels modern, it feels fresh, it just feels cool.
This actually reminds me of one of my favorite tropes. If you look at as many stock photos as we do, you'll see scads of businesspeople using their tablets, strangely posed in weird locations: parks, ponds, public thoroughfares. I don't know what they're up to, and I certainly don't trust them:
Let's be real: does a mobile solution really suit the learning you're trying to build? Or does it just sound like a thing you think you should have? We're living in the post- "There's an app for that!" era. There's an app for everything. Literally, everything. It's not hard for technology to develop completely unhinged from any earthly need that a human has ever felt. So you have to really ask yourself: Why do I want this?
DOES MOBILE LEARNING MAKE SENSE FOR YOUR AUDIENCE?
Start by thinking about how you expect people to use your training. Are your learners always on the go and likely to need quick access to on-the-job training modules? Or do you have an independent, tech-savvy audience that needs constant access to review and process information on a custom portal? In those situations, m-learning could be a great solution that you'll get a lot of mileage out of.
But what if your audience consists of desk workers with identical company-issued computers? What if your learners are going to take this training in a single, one-hour session, in a known environment? What if none of your workers even have mobile devices? Think about the people you're building this training for. Think about how likely or even possible it is for learners to take the training on a mobile device. If only 5% of your audience uses mobile devices regularly, you may want to think twice.
IS MOBILE LEARNING THE BEST USE OF YOUR RESOURCES?
Building for mobile brings a lot of unique opportunities, but it also brings challenges. Because of the wide array of mobile devices on the market, you'll have to allocate a good deal of resources to cross-browser testing and rigorous quality assurance. If the training is going to be offered on both mobile and desktop, you'll have an even greater challenge making sure you can offer a quality, high-fidelity experience to all your users.
Here's the thing: If your audience really needs training that's mobile-compatible, that's no problem. Taking the time to get it right across all applicable devices will have a huge payoff. But if there's only a tiny sliver of your audience that's even able to take the training on mobile, then you've really got to think about what else you could have accomplished with your resources. That's time, energy, and money that could have gone towards higher fidelity, greater complexity, more seat time, more custom activities—about the only limit to what you can accomplish is how far your resources can go. So if you're pouring everything into mobile learning that no one's actually going to use, you're only holding back your own product.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS
Hey, we love a challenge. Every project brings its own unique requirements and constraints, and finding ways to work around and through those obstacles often makes a course stronger. There's real power to taking your learning mobile. If it's a strong fit for your audience and you're ready to do it right, you can achieve some incredible things. Just don't lose sight of what truly matters: reaching your learners where they really are.