'Mobile learning' makes formal methods of training more effective

Economy July 03, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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"Mobile learning" will not replace traditional methods such as classroom training or other formal learning for the business world, but is instead complementing and making them more effective, said Apiwut Pimolsaengsuriya, an executive partner at Orchid Sl



Apiwut said that several weeks ago he had the opportunity to attend one of world’s biggest learning events, the “ASTD International Exposition and Conference”, which was held this year in the US city of Dallas. 
The American Society for Training and Development’s annual conference is an important event that people working in the field of human resources and business executives with a keen interest in people matters find it hard to miss.
“I have been visiting this fair once every few years with the purpose of updating myself on the latest trends in human resources and organisational development. Admittedly, what happens in the western world now will likely find its place here in Thailand within the next few years,” he said.
This year’s event showed that mobile learning is obviously an up and coming trend, with participants flocking into rooms where the talks were about learning through mobile devices such as smart phones, tablet computers and e-book readers. 
In the exposition space, more than 400 service providers had booths, with many of them displaying and offering platforms and content for mobile learning.
In terms of how mobile learning can complement formal methods, he cited the example of a trainer sending a VDO-clip link to their learner participants to introduce themselves and the course prior to the formal start of a training programme.
A trainer can also send a “tweet” to greet the participants, who can then “follow” him or her on Twitter, ask questions or share their expectations about the course. Thus, the trainer and trainees will be able to get to know each other before they formally kick-start the class.
Moreover, during the class, participants can share what they have learnt through a Facebook group, or via Linkedin, specially created for their training class or by sharing on their own public pages. 
After finishing the course, they can download applications based on their platform of choice – be it Apple, Andriod or Windows – which they can then use for reviewing what they have learnt or for their actual work, said Apiwut. 
Furthermore, they can share what they have learnt and their accomplishments from attending the class on blogs such as WordPress.
Mobile learning can, therefore, be used in every part of the learning process, and this trend is already really happening in training rooms, he said, adding that it makes learning more fun, especially among the younger generation.
According to an ASTD survey titled “Mobile Learning: Delivering Learning in a Connected World” conducted last year, only 17 per cent of participants said they had never used a mobile device for learning, while 37.7 per cent said they had done so for less than 30 minutes, 29.2 per cent spent 30-60 minutes on mobile learning, and 15.4 per cent took more than one hour.
Nearly 70 per cent of the respondents said they used “shared workplace” applications such as SharePoint and Google Docs, followed by Wikis (49.7 per cent), “shared media” such as YouTube and Flickr (38.2 per cent), blogs such as WordPress and LiveJournal (38.1 per cent), podcasts (34.7 per cent), social networks like Facebook and Linkedin (27.2 per cent), and micro blogs such as Twitter and Yammer (20 per cent).
The sales department was found to be the biggest user group of mobile learning tools (53 per cent), followed by the operation department (32 per cent), human resources (29 per cent), customer service (26 per cent), marketing (24 per cent), executive/management (18 per cent), information technology (18 per cent) and accounting and finance (12 per cent).
So-called “Bring Your Own Devices” (BYOD) is also an up-and-coming trend, as nearly half of the organisations surveyed encourage staff to bring their own gadgets to the workplace, where they can hook up and connect to the companies’ learning platforms and content. 
Sixteen per cent of the organisations were setting their BYOD policies, while only 10 per cent did not allow their employees to bring their devices from home to hook up to the companies’ systems.
These trends in the US are likely to happen in Thailand, as well, and they could come faster than some may think, said Apiwut. 
Organisations, their executives and HR professionals should, therefore, prepare for the upcoming trends. What needs to be changed is not only the hardware and tools, as even more important are their mindsets, attitudes and working culture, he stressed.
   Using a cellphone or tablet during seminar training may still be taboo at present, and bringing an iPad to a meeting may be perceived as impolite, but, sooner or later, these perceptions may become obsolete when mobile learning has become prevalent in our society, he said.

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