Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 3 years or so, there is a strong chance that words like mLearning, Mobile Learning, Mobile-first, Mobile-everything, etc. may not seem new concepts to you. In the context of learning at workplace, the belief that mobile is the future of workplace learning is now stronger than ever before. From the early times of mLearning being a new buzzword a few years back, we are now in a time when definitive steps are being taken by organizations worldwide, irrespective of their business and size, to design learning tools from a mobile-first approach.
While mobile learning will do what it’ll do, the question I asked myself and keep asking is – what does an LMS need to do to not just strive but also thrive in this new world? In all fairness, the new mobile-first and mobile-everything world is pretty much like a different planet for the LMS and unless it has the right tools and equipment, it will not survive in this new world. As a quote about evolution goes, I find it extremely relevant for the LMS of today – “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” True that.
The LMSs need to adapt and adapt fast in this new age. But how? Let us take a look at the six things that come to my mind which LMSs need to do to achieve this goal:
that it’s time to change. Nothing else could be a better start than to say “I need to change before its late.”We need to get our heads out of sand and face the challenge.
2. Mobile First
Period. Of course, this cannot be done overnight, but the whole thought process and mindset of the designers should be that things need to be built mobile-first. The LMS included. How users use mobile phones to access/interact with information – that should and must define the way the LMSs are designed and built.
Mobile doesn’t mean only the mobile smartphones. No. It’s the whole gamut of smart handheld devices – phones, tablets, mini tablets, and phablets, etc. and the conventional – desktops and kind of mobile – laptops.
4. Responsive Design
Not just from a technical perspective but also from a long-term maintenance and support perspective, it will be imperative that the LMSs are responsive-designed. On one hand it makes it work on multiple devices, on the other hand, development and maintenance is easier than developing and maintaining separate versions for each device or device sets.
5. Sequential Screening
While corporates may find a way to force users to use a particular device for a particular task in the context of LMS, users are more inclined to switching devices for the same task either due to time or location change or change in other parts of context in which they use a device. The LMSs’ backend needs to be able to adapt to this in terms of accurate progress tracking and bookmarking given the challenges of network connectivity (more pertinent on handheld devices). SCORM, TinCan would be extremely useful and needed tools here.
Responsive design in itself does not guarantee high levels of usability but that has to be designed into the system. While catering to multiple devices, care has to be taken to leverage different capabilities of different types of devices to retain and enhance usability of the LMS across various devices. This is extremely important.
This is what we know today and what seems most important in my view. The space of mobile technologies is still extremely dynamic and the LMSs need to be very vigilant of the change and the trends. Even in the mobile-first way of things, we would still need LMSs like we do today for effective and better learning management. Of course the way they look, feel, behave and interact with the users will change significantly in the time to come. And it is for the better.