David, a young Tenderfoot in my Scout troop, was on the verge of tears. Looking down, he muttered “I will never learn this knot.” I scratched my head and was initially inclined to believe him. But, as his Scoutmaster, I quickly encouraged him and once again showed him the knot, and then again and again.
Around the third or fourth time, I remembered I had a knot-tying app on my phone. Not only did it explain the purpose and use, it showed videos of experts tying the knots and a 3D interactive simulation viewable from multiple angles by simply maneuvering the screen. I showed David this app, turned my phone over to him and continued to observe. He mastered the knot in less than 5 minutes. He then downloaded the app to his own phone, giving him instant access to all required Scouting knots and many more. Soon, most of the Scouts in the troop had downloaded this app, as well as many adult leaders in other troops. Over the next several months of camping and hiking trips, I noticed a dramatic drop in “Emergency Knot Support” required by the Scouts. Asking the other adult leaders, they had observed the same thing. The knot app had helped David learn the knot, and he passed this knowledge and app on to other Scouts, and performance in the troop’s knot tying dramatically improved.
There are numerous reasons why a mobile learning app can support your training strategy — here are four:
Availability and Use of Mobile Devices — The Pew Research Center reported in January 2017 that 95% of Americans own mobile cell phones with Internet capability, and over 50% also own “Other” mobile Internet capable devices. That is a huge potential to reaching learners on mobile devices!
Meeting Millennials Where They’re At — Millennials, roughly defined as those born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s, have been using some sort of mobile device most of their lives. Often referred to as digital natives, these are individuals who are extremely comfortable with digital technology and use mobile devices for learning, communicating and entertainment.
Versatility — mLearning can be implemented in various ways: individual interest learning; product or process learning; soft skills; Microlearning (skill-based education with small learning units with short-term strategies), Instructor-Led; Blended; and flipping-the-classroom (where lectures are replaced with problem-based learning and group work).
Always Available Performance Improvement — mLearning is capable of providing the specific, relevant and timely training as required. Mobile apps allow learners to access training even when not connected to the internet in many cases, and they help sustain skills and increase performance of individuals, teams and entire communities of interest — on the go.
With the widespread availability and use of mobile devices, mLearning has become more and more popular, particularly with millennials, or digital natives. With an expected 75% of the workforce being made up of millennials by 2025, I do not expect mLearning to decrease in popularity; I foresee the demand to increase and evolve as mobile technology advances.
We at Engility are directly engaged in advancing mobile app development and providing mLearning solutions to meet our customer’s unique training needs to increase value and performance in the battlefield and workplace. Our vision is to engage and deliver mLearning solutions to address the ongoing challenge of providing the right training, to the right learner, at the right time — every time!