PARN Global News Article - 5 July 2011



CPD Spotlight: July/July 2011
Special Feature by Amy Hannington

We wanted to take a look at m-learning, otherwise known as mobile learning. Just got your head around e-learning?

Well m-learning is part of it, not something wholly new; it simply refers to providing learning suitable for mobile devices.

Maybe you’re reading this on a mobile device, maybe you’ve never even picked one up; but more and more people are using smartphones (iPhones, Androids etc) and tablets (iPads and other handheld computers). So it makes sense for learning providers to take advantage of this technology.

How do you define m-learning and what are the benefits?

So we’re talking about learning that is done through mobile devices. The best definition I’ve found accepts that it works best when added to something; it’s about extending the reach of teaching and learning.

This short video gives a great introduction to how m-learning works and can benefit learners. It explains that m-learning is appropriate for something like a short, interactive test that complements other learning.

If people can access the information at any time and any place, they are more likely to be able to fit it in when it is appropriate for them. This means the learner is active and at the centre of the activity.

How does this relate to CPD?

Maybe you’ve recently set up an online CPD programme for your members, or you’re working on how to improve this service. By providing some additional content that is suitable for members’ mobile devices, they become able to enhance their learning while, say, on the train or waiting for a meeting. This might take the form of a short test of what they have been learning elsewhere, as described above, or perhaps just being able to access the right information when someone asks.

Perhaps you’re a member of a professional body and are having trouble fitting your learning in with everyday life. We’re not saying that playing games on your iPhone is the answer to fulfilling all of your CPD requirements, but m-learning by your trainer or professional body could help you reflect on and recall what you’ve learnt at work. This might be through specific applications created or recommended by your trainer or professional body, or something you’ve found yourself.

Are you a mentor or mentee? An application could be created to make that mentoring relationship easier, providing you with the resources you need and a platform for discussion and feedback.

How can you start providing m-learning?

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) have all taken m-learning on board, to name a few.

Something you’ll need to realise at the outset is that there is a lack of standardisation between the different device platforms. This means you’ll need to decide which devices you are providing learning applications for - iPhones, Androids, iPads… It depends on what your learners use.

  • Consider employing an expert on the subject for a short time to set this up or longer term to maintain the programme. This could be a professional or a student/recent graduate.
  • Do your research and try to envisage what sort of applications you want to provide. There’s tons of info about m-learning available online (the Wikipedia page is a pretty good start), have a browse and see what others are doing. If you’re a Twitter user try a search using the hashtag #m-learning.
  • Check out this free e-book: Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training. As well as covering advances in m-learning, it discusses research into its use in both nursing and teacher training as well as other sectors.
  • Talk with others in the professional body sector about m-learning and the benefits it can bring for CPD in the Forums on PARN People:

About the author

Amy Hannington is a Research Assistant at PARN. She recently co-authored Raising the Value of Professional Body Membership, edits for TotalProfessions.com and supports PARN’s research.