Mobile learning has gained popularity recently, with the growing access to smart devices like mobile phones, tablets, phablets, etc., that allow learning content and training to be delivered via the device. The development of various mobile apps has made anytime, anywhere learning a reality. Learners are no longer confined to the classroom or their computers, and learning is now in the palms of their hands. Mobile learning is generally used in conjunction with other modes of learning like web-based training, but by no means is it a compressed version of the web-based course.
As with other modes of training, developing a mobile learning unit requires adhering to certain general guidelines. It is crucial to understand why the mobile unit is being developed, to disseminate learning content or to act as a performance support tool. In addition, instructional systems designers must be cognizant of the fact that mobile devices have less battery life and a smaller screen than computers, which makes it difficult for learners to spend as much time completing training on their mobile device as they would on a computer. Because of this, learning content should be delivered in bite-sized portions that are easily readable. Scrolling should be minimal so that scrolling on a small screen does not become stifling for the learners. Also, the navigation should be intuitive and simple. Mobile learning is an active learning mode, and learners must be able to relate to and interact with it. The overall file size of the learning unit should not be big, as it can compromise the storage capacity of the device, and finally, learners should be able to download the learning content in order to access it both online and offline, receiving technical support as needed.
Mobile learning is a great tool for accessing just-in-time information. For example, a new employee might want to review the module on how to repair a broken part on his way to work. The employee can easily view the video tutorial on his mobile device. Again, someone might need to look up the 5 steps to clean a machine just before beginning the task. Mobile apps are a great way to provide easy access to such performance support tools.
The transit industry has a great potential to use mobile learning for frontline employees that are in the field, to provide them access to a job aid or a quick tutorial that does not take time away from their work. While the industry has started using mobile technology to some extent, there is plenty of room for growth. The chart below provides examples of mobile learning that is used in the transit and non-transit industry, as well as possible applications for the transit industry.
The chart below provides examples of ways mobile has been used in the transit and non-transit industry, as well as possible applications for the transit industry.
|Examples from the Transit Industry|
|Transit Academy||The Transit Academy is a turnkey learning platform that features concise video tutorials and transit training information. The material is fully hosted on a web-based platform that can be accessed anywhere on any devise including a tablet or a smart phone The Transit Academy allows the user to search on any topic and find relevant videos and other documents. The user can post questions which go to hundreds of members who are transit experts. Users can establish an Author account and create and post videos, PDFs or word documents or create new materials designed specifically for mobile learning. The mobile app allows user to shoot a video directly from a phone.|
|Xpan||Xpan is a digital knowledge provider that provides custom content designed to provide knowledge experiences for the light rail industry as well as other industry segments. Mobile applications have been developed for rail operation, maintenance and safety training and knowledge acquisition on the workers smart phone or tablet.
Interactive 3D modeling provides the worker the opportunity to inspect, install parts that are often not available to the workers’.
Rail Safe is a track side table application that allows track inspectors to access tracks in a safe environment using a digital knowledge version which can be compared to the traditional “Lock Out/Tag Out.
|Examples Beyond the Transit Industry|
|Tooling U SME||The Tooling U-SME offers online manufacturing training via a Learning Management System. There is also a mobile app specifically designed to give students more flexibility for working within their student portal on the 2.0 versions of their classes. The app is a native Android or iOS app formatted for tablets only. It allows Tooling U-SME Students to log into their portal and take assessments, study using Tooling U's interactive lessons, learn vocabulary for lessons assigned to them, and take notes. Student center and admin center functionality are not included. The app is currently in beta testing and will launch soon.|
|Poll Everywhere||This program replaces expensive proprietary audience response hardware with standard web technology. It allows you to poll an audience of learners in real time by allowing them to use their cell phone to answer questions. Essentially, you ask your audience a question in the app, the learners answer using mobile phones, twitter, or web browsers, and you get to see the responses live on the web or in a PowerPoint presentation. Poll Everywhere can be used to assess learners in multiple locations at the same time. Results can be shared with participants after the learning session by emailing a link provided by the program. You can even share the results as they come in by posting the poll to a Facebook page.|
|SchoolTown||SchoolTown is a blended learning, content sharing, and collaboration platform designed to help instructors be more effective and efficient. It empowers learners to be active participants in personalized learning with content delivered through their mobile devices. The platform is easy to set up and manage for instructors and allows them to incorporate video and other digital content in a few clicks. SchoolTown is also capable of being used to present digital textbooks.|
|Air Force Medical Service Mobile Just In Time Training||Mobile training was developed to increase use of simulation equipment, reduce training cost for simulator operators, support equipment maintenance and repair, and improve the quality of the simulation training. Learners were given access to a mobile Procedural and Troubleshooting Guide. This guide gives learners access to the answers of frequently asked questions at the exact moment that they need it. The mobile portion also included pictures and videos to show learners the step by step process of some medical procedures. The mobile app was also used to debrief a simulation and for scenario development.|
|Possible Applications for the Transit Industry|
|Transit Distance Learning||Mobile technology could be used to enhance distance learning programs capable of reaching a widespread audience. It could be hard to promote active and engaging learning when learners are spread across multiple locations. Mobile learning technology could be used to engage learners during lessons by making them active participants. Once that session is over, important videos, manuals, or other information can be pushed to the learners’ mobile devices for easy access. This can help increase both the learners’ ease of access and exposure to important learning content.|
|Just in Time Mobile Training||Mobile apps can be used as just in time training for technical skills in the transit industry. Manuals and guides can be accessible by mobile phones so that when a learner is stuck, they have a readily accessible job aid at their fingertips. This can help reduce the amount of simulation time needed to learn knowledge and skills. Once training is complete, learners can have continued access to the app. This allows the app to transition to a true job aid and gives added value to this learning tool.|