Mobile blended learning bridges the classroom-digital divide.
Have you ever been in the middle of delivering a lecture and found yourself wishing you had a better way to reach your learners once the allotted class time finished? Or have you ever designed an online course and found yourself longing for face-to-face time with your learners that might help you bring your more complex concepts to life?
Believe it or not, these are concerns online and traditional educators share. While traditional instructors spend much of their time looking for ways in which digital technology might bring their lessons to life, the new generation of digital instructors misses the in-person contact of traditional education. Both have their advantages: digital education is undeniably more accessible and more adaptive, while working well with the adult learner’s desire for self-direction. Meanwhile, traditional instructors have a stronger connection with their learners, and as a result, see higher completion rates.
Blended learning, as you might surmise from its name, is a way to combine the two. Learners gain the benefits an online environment that’s always at their fingertips without sacrificing the face-to-face interaction with their instructor and peers.
So far so good, but most blended learning environments are designed first for desktop users. While these serve their purpose, they miss a chance at engaging learners more effectively through a mobile environment. If you’re on the fence about blended learning, here’s four reasons why you should consider devoting more of your resources toward building a compelling mobile environment.
1. Accessible, mobile discussion forums.
Anyone who’s ever participated in a discussion forum knows how disappointing it can be to catch up on an exciting conversation after it’s already finished. Online forums are a great chance for your learners to speak up and express their thoughts on the subject matter. But if they’re only at a desktop a limited time during the day, they may not be able to contribute as much as they would like.
Mobile learning helps bring these classroom discussions to the learner no matter where they are. Blended learning gives every learner a chance to have their say in a discussion, no matter when—or where—it takes place.
2. Mobile-optimized micro lessons and mini quizzes.
Common educational lore says you need to hear a piece of information three times before you remember it. Cognitive psychology backs this up, albeit moderately. There’s no magic formula for every student governing the exact number of times they need to review a lesson to remember it, but it is pretty clear that repetition is a strong re-enforcement, and that this repetition is most effective when it happens both immediately after a lesson, and a little while later after short intermission.
In other words, waiting till a mid-term (or even worse—till the end of a semester) is less helpful to learners than a short post-lesson review followed by a second, pre-class quiz. So, why not deliver this via mobile app? Schedule a quick review quiz for immediately after the close of your lesson, and a second refresher quiz the day before the next lecture. That way everyone gets a chance to review and refresh, even if they weren’t able to make class.
3. Push notifications that promote habit-building routines.
Your learners may have every intention of signing in to your app to review material before the next lesson, but they also lead busy lives. It’s all to easy for good intentions to be buried by social, work, or family responsibilities. In these situations, keeping your learners engaged with your course content can feel like an uphill battle.
Fortunately, push notifications are here for the rescue. By delivering short, helpful prompts, you can keep your learners engaged with your course content, even when they’re in a position to forget it.
4. Engage learners where they already are.
Finally, the biggest reason why mobile learning is so important is because that’s where your learners are. Almost all of us are on our phones all day long, and while that can be a huge distraction, it can also work to your benefit.
Instead of letting that time drift toward another session of Candy Crush, help your learners use their time more effectively by turning it into a learning opportunity. With your course as a reason to engage with educational content, your learners will feel more positive about their mobile activity, and they’ll get closer toward their learning goals at the same time.
Blended learning outcomes are undeniable. Mobile only makes them more accessible.
The results are clear: blended learning is good for learners and instructors alike. The benefits of combining digital and traditional learning methods are undeniable. The question is: how best can you implement the two effectively in your classroom?
Whether you focus more on mobile or desktop interactions will depend in part on your traffic and the makeup of your typical classroom. Using basic website analytics, you should be able to determine how much of your traffic comes from mobile vs. desktop. You should also be able to see which group spends the most time on page. If you see a high contingent of mobile users who only spend forty-five seconds on your page versus a desktop group that spends an average of four to five minutes on a page, then that’s a clear sign that your desktop users are a higher priority.
However, there’s also some cause and effect at play, here. If your mobile analytics are bad, it may be because your mobile site is poorly optimized. Devoting more resources toward a mobile environment could very well increase your overall engagement metrics. It’s important to look at your numbers, decide what outcomes you want to achieve, and choose a strategy that will achieve those goals.
Mobile blended learning is clearly an opportunity for instructors, and one that many educators have yet to fully optimize. By focusing on the strategy yourself, you could be an early adaptor in the field. That will put you in a better position to help your learners, and to establish the top credentials of your course.