The global mobile subscriber rate now stands at 63% at 4.7 billion unique subscribers. Although the rapid pace of penetration will likely slow, by 2020 another billion subscribers will join the ranks.

Mobile has changed how the developed—and developing—world consumes information, providing opportunities previously out of reach (no pun intended) for individuals without the skills and knowledge to progress in their careers. What I love about mobile learning is how it facilitates communication top-down, bottom-up, peer-to-peer, and allows anyone anywhere to learn new skills.

A successful mobile learning experience requires more than simply adapting content to fit on a mobile device.

As president and COO of MicroBenefits—a company that has pioneered gamified learning in factories across China—I’ve seen firsthand what works, and what doesn’t, when learning via mobile.

What Works

Gamified learning works. Studies have shown that gamified learning enhances retention almost 10% above learning environments that lack gamification. Think about the environment of the individual using your mobile app: They could be commuting on the subway, or lounging on their couch with distractions from other devices. They will definitely have interruptions from notifications coming into their device. Learning via mobile has very different characteristics than learning in a classroom.

Gamified environments work because they don’t feel like a chore, an obligation. Our user base includes mostly migrant factory workers who don’t have much time for anything but work. They want to gain the skills and knowledge requisite to progress in their organization and careers. However, they find it difficult to focus when they have what I refer to as “brain fatigue” from doing repetitive tasks for hours on end.

When the world is literally at users’ fingertips, how can your app stand out? Incorporating a social aspect into your learning environment will keep users coming back. There’s a reason why Facebook ranks as one of the world’s most frequently used sites. We all have a desire to connect with each other, and you can do this relatively easily in a mobile learning environment by creating leaderboards. Leaderboards help users connect with each other by giving them common ground and inspire healthy competition so peers can learn from each other.

Gamification and social learning are just two keys to creating a great mobile learning platform.


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