With the omnipresence of cell phones today, it’s become the norm to take learning on the go, accessible from virtually anywhere. Mobile learning, or mLearning, takes it a few steps forward with structured courses, similar to what you would expect from a desktop eLearning environment. And like all learning platforms, whether in person or distance-based, it does face some distinctive challenges. To overcome these obstacles, it’s up to you, the instructor, to get creative. Here are some ideas to fuel your inspiration.

1. Optimize your videos for mobile training use

While desktop platforms are more conducive to lengthy video lectures, mobile users are looking for something significantly shorter. Keep your videos concise, and consider dividing the content up by making more, shorter videos. Your viewers will also appreciate subtitles here too - mobile phones tend to go everywhere public, and viewers may not be equipped with headphones. You may also want to offer subtitles in any number of languages, depending on your learners’ demographics.

2. Encourage resourcefulness

Implementing some basic research exercises can help your students gain valuable tools for both the course and the real world. You can have them use basic search engines or apps to start with. You can also branch out into interpersonal strategies, encouraging your students to reach out to industry professionals on topics they are researching. In doing so, they’ll also learn incredibly valuable communication skills like phone and email etiquette.

3. Promote discussion

There are countless apps and websites that will allow you and your learners to hold discussions. Pick one or two platforms for conversations to take hold; WhatsApp and Twitter are great ones to start with. Any more than that and you risk watering down the conversations. To fuel the discussions, consider adding some prompts to get the collaborative and critical thinking going. Encourage your learners to thoroughly explore new ideas and share relevant materials with their peers. Set some ground rules, too, so your peers know what is expected of them.

4. Flip it

The idea behind a ‘flipped’ classroom is that learners watch pre-recorded video lectures as homework, then use the in-person training sessions for discussion and critical thinking. This model can apply to mLearning as well. While you should alter your videos to be more mobile-friendly (see point 1), you can still flip your virtual classroom by allocating the time they have interacting with you to be where the discussion goes in-depth. That, or you could send your learners to a separate forum to bounce ideas off of each other while you moderate (see point 3).

5. Keep it Simple

By simplicity, we don’t mean that your course’s content needs to be simple. Rather, the usability of it needs to be simplified. A poorly designed or difficult-to-navigate platform will prove to be an unnecessary obstacle to your learners, and they may miss components of the course as a result. Screen time is hard on the eyes, so details like legible fonts and soft colors can go a long way. Try to approach the platform design as if you were one of your learners. Don’t forget that mobile phones also have some less obvious features that can help you make the most out of your mLearning experience. You can use mobile learning platforms to send out surveys once the course has ended, asking your students for invaluable feedback to take with you to future courses. You can also promote your courses through the app store or relevant websites. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to further develop your mLearning courses and LMS solutions.

Emily Burgess is part of the team behind Course Guru, an Australian business specializing in online training and education. She likes to share her professional experiences and insights through blogging.

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