Getting Started in Mobile Learning

In a recent post, I talked about a new feature in Mindflash that allows you to create training modules that work beautifully on the iPad. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for reaching learners with effective and relevant learning opportunities. Based on the numbers and predictions, mobile is going to be bigger that we can even imagine, and learning experience (LX) designers need to be ready. So now that you know designing mobile learning is possible with Mindflash, the next question is, "How do I get started?"

Woman using iPad

The first three things you should do to get started in mobile learning is to education yourself, learn your authoring tool well, and experiment with mobile learning designs.

Educate Yourself

In any new endeavor, learning the ropes is key. I recommend three ways to educate yourself in mobile learning.

Search for Resources: Google the terms "mlearning" and "mobile learning." Look for blog posts, white papers, and other resources that could get you thinking about what's out there in mobile learning. This is a quick and free way to learn the basics of any new topic.

Read Books: There are two books that I believe are mandatory reading for any aspiring mobile learning designer: The Mobile Learning Edge and Designing for mLearning. I am a big fan of getting a stack of books on a new subject and reading them with a good highlighter for marking good passages and Evernote for taking notes on ideas I get while reading.

Attend mlearncon: If you are really gung-ho, consider attending mlearncon, a mobile learning conference put on by the eLearning Guild in San Jose. It is a cutting edge conference in a cutting edge city at which you will learn how others are using mobile learning in their organizations. Since mobile learning is so new, there are likely to be good presentations on lessons learned from early adopters.

Learn Your Authoring Tool

The next step to getting started in mobile learning design is to learn your authoring tool well. There is no greater way to create beautiful and engaging designs than to know what your authoring tool can do. Read all of the "Getting Started" Help files, engage in discussions with other members of the Mindflash Community, and use Live Chat to ask questions directly of Mindflash support. As you learn the functionality of Mindflash, tinker with it. Start applying what you learn as soon as you learn it. That is the best way for it to stick.


There are two ways to experiment with mobile learning. First, simply use one of your existing courses and test in on an iPad. This is likely the fastest way to put out a prototype, but I suspect you will find what experts will tell you...that existing e-learning courses should not be converted because mlearning is unique with its own design and learner challenges. The second way to experiment with mobile learning is to create a new class designed specifically for the iPad. I recommend doing something really simple for purposes of your experiment. For example, how about a short tutorial for managers on what to do when an employee requests a leave of absence. Most companies have a well defined processes here so content will be easy to get. Also, most managers don't deal with this request very often, so it is easy to forget the proper steps to take.

Select any topic you want, but the point is to start small and put out a prototype so people can get a visual idea of what is possible with Mindflash and an iPad.

Nothing Standing in Your Way

Although becoming a high performing mobile learning designer will not come easy or quickly, getting started and producing a prototype can be a fairly quick process. The key is to start, and I have laid out a few things you can do right now to get started. If you use Mindflash, there is no longer anything standing in your way from creating a beautiful and engaging learning experience on the iPad. If you have already started, please comment below and share your story. What worked? What challenges did you face? What were the reactions of people in your organization when they first saw your training course on their iPad?

Bill Cushard, author, blogger and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technology (HPT) leader with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.

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