Can Mobile Learning Teach Digital Natives More Effectively?

According to Mark Pensky, a writer and speaker on learning and education, “Digital natives are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.”

What is a digital native? Wikipedia explains these are young people born during or after the introduction of digital technology, and by interacting with digital technology from an early age, they have a greater understanding of its concepts.

Due to their heavy interactions with media on a daily basis, digital natives process information differently than previous generations. Computer games, TV, email, cell phones, texting, IM and social media become their main sources of information. Those equate to a lot of distractions competing with educational information coming from a learning environment.

So how can instructional designers create courses that reach this generation? The answer may be mobile learning.

Why Should IDs Embrace Mobile Learning?

Here are a few of the interactions digital natives are performing from their mobile devices, according to Influence Central (2016):

  • 83% text message
  • 45% games
  • 40% instant messaging
  • 38% internet access
  • 32% photo downloads
  • 28% email

Mobile now accounts for 65% of media consumption in general. The average person in 2016 spent between three and four hours on their phone per day, with more time spent in-app than mobile web.

Therefore, designing courses that can work into that phone time may be a natural fit for modern learners.

Which Content Is Best Suited to Mobile Learning?

The following are most successfully applied to mobile learning development:

  • Microlearning – short bursts of information are better suited to mobile devices
  • Games – short, interactive learning games reinforce learning
  • Videos – short learning videos help reinforce key concepts
  • Knowledge checks – quick ways to evaluate and reaffirm learners’ current knowledge
  • Knowledge updates – delivering updates to existing knowledge

It’s important to remember to keep your content short. This is crucial because you’ll be competing with text messages, emails, social media updates and other ways learners engage with their mobile devices.

What Are Some Ways to Incorporate Mobile Learning in Instructional Design?

Options for mLearning can fit into a larger eLearning course, provided you ensure the overall structure is clear for the learner. Remember to use short (3 – 10 minute) microlearning topics; this is not the platform to unload longer, more complex modules. Job aids and just-in-time pieces are excellent for mLearning.

Mobile learning can fit into a blended instructional design approach, offering nuggets of knowledge you can incorporate in your larger learning strategy.

For more ideas of how to incorporate mobile learning into your instructional design, and make your content count, check out Best Practices for Designing Mobile Learning Like a Pro.