The Mobile Virtual Learner

by Darlene Christopher on April 4, 2014

tablet-2-1While travelling in Asia last week, I met a Canadian guy who works for a high tech company and monitors classified ads posting.  Because the company provides 24-hour monitoring of ads, and his typical shift in Canada was overnight (8pm-4am) he decided to travel and live in Viet Nam  for four months where he could work a day shift (7am – 3pm) and avoid the Canadian winter.  He told me he stays in areas with good internet connections and uses the evenings and weekends for sight-seeing.  He was young, very tech savvy and his lifestyle made me a bit jealous.

I was curious about his workplace learning opportunities since he is essentially a mobile worker.  He said his company has an enterprise social network platform (like Facebook) where workers exchange information and advice, pose questions and develop ideas.  He also has access to self-paced e-learning, and he participates in live virtual classrooms.  Oh, and by the way, he usually accesses all of these learning opportunities on his phone or tablet.

Even if you aren’t as mobile as the person I’m describing, mobile learning also appeals to traditional workers who travel and/or just want flexibility to access learning content. It makes sense to explore ways to make learning more mobile as tablets and smartphones are quickly becoming the primary tool that people use to access the Internet.

I’ve noticed there is a pattern to how I work and divide up how I will get my work done by determining where to optimize my time:  I work at my computer when I need a large screen and/or access corporate systems and files.  I use my mobile device when a small screen will suffice and the nature of the work is less complex.

Likewise, virtual classrooms have varying levels of complexity in both the design and content.  For those virtual classroom sessions that are less complex and a small screen will suffice, remind participants that they can join using a mobile device. A few areas to keep in mind are:

  • Instruct participants to download the mobile app for your virtual classroom prior to your session. Adobe Connect, WebEx and GoTo Meeting  are some of the popular tools.
  • Don’t facilitate a session from a mobile device – for obvious reasons.  However, if you plan to include mobile participants, join your session from a mobile device as a participant, so you can watch the mobile “view” as you facilitate.
  • If your design includes two-way audio make sure mobile participants know how to mute their mobile device or that you have the ability to mute participants. Imagine the sound of an ambulance or wind blowing and disrupting the audio for everyone on the call.
  • Remind mobile participants to charge their device before joining the session.
  • Only offer to include mobile participants if you have tested your material on a mobile device.  Test everything, from signing in to the end of the session, so that you can see what adjustments you need to make to instructions, content, and exercises.

 

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