Add Learning Value via Smartphones

Digitization by geralt

In our digital world, there is one device at virtually everyone’s finger tips:  the smartphone.  In June 2017, the Pew Research Center reported that more than 70 percent of adults in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, and Australia owned smartphones.  Even as smartphone adoption continues at a rapid clip, associations are growing multi-dimensional professional development.

Associations have embraced the use of elearning.  Instructional design and development of online courses, workshops, webinars, resource libraries, and more have expanded dramatically.  Many organizations still struggle to get all of the parts and pieces working in unified fashion.  Nevertheless, online learning via a desktop, laptop, or tablet is an expected service in today’s association world.

The next phase of this digital learning is delivery via smartphones.  Now truth be told, the design of these experiences will require careful curation.  The written course curriculum will need to be parsed for small screen consumption.  Although the eBook model can be used, apps that engage the learner will provide several benefits for the learner and the association:  learning on the go, almost limitless time and place options, and another touchpoint with the organization.  The smartphone, however, will not be the best delivery option for the entire curriculum.

What types of professional development can be offered via smartphone app?  Here are three ideas to stir your grey cells:

  1. Content Capsules — Remember bite-sized learning? As Livia Susan writes in her excellent post regarding bite-sized learning myths, content cannot simply be sliced and diced into bite-sized chunks.  Yet with specific design for appropriate content and end-purposes, micro-learning can be effective and delivered via app.  For example, Content Capsules could be designed for pre-meeting prompts and discussions.  When the learner logs on for the course or enters the in-person session, the Content Capsules spur interactions.  Another use of Content Capsules could be for post-course discussion prompts.  Keep course engagement going with discussion boards.  The content capsule will not be applicable for all materials, but tiny parcels certainly can be appropriate for select content.
  2. Cues & Clues— Professional learning smartphone apps also could provide Cues and Clues for effective results. For example, if your training includes a list of steps for implementation, place the major actions in the Cues & Clues section of the app, with a link to the entire online training archive or other related resource.  If there are tasks to be applied in the work setting, Cues & Clues can provide reminders and checkpoints for success.  Cues & Clues serve as shorthand reminders of key facts and steps.
  3. Segment Synopsis — In this delivery, the app is used to synthesize dominant themes or complex aspects of the training. I see Segment Synopsis like abbreviated CliffsNotes, especially the Literature Notes, written to supplement understanding of the various works.  In professional development, these supplemental summaries of major aspects should be prepared by subject matter experts.  The Segment Synopsis could be used before, during, and after the main continuing education experience.  When busy professionals engage in online or in-person courses, the Segment Synopsis can help ensure best practices.

Education is one of the most important and promising pathways for sustaining associations.  More importantly, the value of quality professional learning for members and the personal and professional ROI can never be underestimated.  The appropriate use of smartphone apps is another way to add value to professional development.

Use these three concepts, Content Capsules, Cues & Clues, and Segment Synopsis to brainstorm additional ways you might employ smartphone apps.  The actual development of the app is a separate topic for another time.   Conceptual use must drive the app design — how would you use smartphone apps for professional learning?


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