How do we meet the challenge of tracking mobile learning?

by | Jan 31, 2014 | Articles

Helen Bingham and Alison Potter, NHS in conversation at the #LT14UK Towards Maturity eXchange – Report by Genny Dixon 

Helen and Alison work together in Health Education Wessex – Thames Valley and are now into their fourth year of using mobile learning. Those around the table were very much at the start of their own journey and in some cases not sure where to start, so this conversation provided lots of opportunities to ask questions, raise understanding of the some of the more technical aspects and explore together the issues and challenges of tracking mobile learning.

Going native 

The early approach in NHS Thames Valley was to develop native apps that were distributed via an App Store such as the Apple iStore. They developed six apps covering topics such as clinical skills, health and safety and medical adminstration techniques – providing high-end, structured quick reference learning opportunities.

Making learning ‘count’

With native apps, learners can work offline – a real bonus where wifi connectivity is poor or variable – but this comes with its own problems. We discussed the decision whether to use native or web apps at some length – taking note of Alison’s decision to switch to web apps (as with the Financial Times) and the difficulties/restrictions that accompany getting apps accepted onto the commercial app stores (consider that it might even be rejected or that any errors corrected mean re-submission!)

Why track mobile learning? For Helen and Alison, tracking wasn’t always important, but a) they needed to track completion of mandatory learning b) they were spending public money and needed to prove ROI and c) the learners themselves wanted their learning to ‘count’. This was achieved as the native apps communicated back to the LMS when the learner was next online.

However, users do not always want to use their own device or work in their own time!

(NB – this is something that a Towards Maturity Learning Landscape Audit can help establish!)

External or in-house?

Storyline and Epic’s GoMo tool were the preferred development tools for Helen and Alison – others around the table were experimenting with Articulate and a LearnDash plug in for WordPress. However, even where one company were REALLY wanting to go mobile, they can only work as fast as their chosen supplier. Client pressure is also forcing some companies to move ahead with m-learning.

Experience API (tin can)

Whilst some LRS functionality is built into their LMS, the NHS team are really excited that they have been selected to join the Rustici Watershed First programme embarking on the new Tin Can standard.

There was lots of interest in assessment by mobile – but uptake was actually poor. Open Badges (which can be triggered by one or more Tin Can statement) present an interesting solution, but the need for academic credit can limit their applicability.

The LRS is also capturing user experiences and can monitor participation in social learning as a measure of engagement. The competitive element amongst a learner group to increase their participation score and move up on the leaderboard can be a great motivator!

Deploying their mobile content to multiple LMS systems across the NHS is the next challenge.

Follow Helen and Alison on twitter: @hebingham and @alisongpotter

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