Is this sarcasm? With the introduction of mobile electronic devices, such as the laptop, cellphone and tablet, learning distractions have gone digital and are not afraid to invade your next learning session. You probably have no trouble identifying “that person” or worse yet those “persons” in your organization who seem to spend more time texting or checking emails than participating in the meeting or training. Ask any corporate facilitator to list common classroom distractions and you will usually hear at least one reference to the use of smartphones during a training session. The mobile demographic demands our attention. Typically, smartphones and other mobile devices are considered a hindrance in learning environments, but does it have to be this way? When I think of mobile devices in the classroom, one saying always comes to mind: If you can’t beat‘em, join’em.
When I first considered integrating the mobile revolution into my training sessions, I have to admit I ran into some resistance from my peers. My spouse is a part-time facilitator for his organization, and we often share ideas and experiences in the classroom. I casually shared this idea with him while at dinner one night, and as you can expect, I received eye rolling accompanied with a long exasperated exhale and a drawn out, “oh boy.” Luckily, I decided to expand my research beyond the dinner table and found other facilitators who applied many techniques with success.
Deciding to start slow, I focused first on the most common mobile device in my classroom, the smartphone. Here are two techniques I was able to easily integrate.
Texting — Text messages are a great way for learners to submit questions to the facilitator. Every learning environment has a shy learner who hesitates to ask questions in front of the class. Texting is a great alternative. Asking participants to text questions during training is also a great way to create a virtual “parking lot” for questions
Smartphone Apps — There are many apps available for both Android and iOS devices that enhance the learning experience. One app worth checking into is from Socrative. Free for teachers and learners, this app provides teachers a method of engaging learners with exercises and games through most mobile devices and provides exportable reports on these exercises through an email Excel spreadsheet. I have used this app in both meetings and training sessions and in a variety of different ways such as quizzes, surveys and collaboration. Once an activity is complete, the app offers me the opportunity to download the report or send it to my email.
I am always interested in what other facilitators are using in the classroom. If you have a solution that works for you, please comment and share. Let’s face it, mobile devices are here to stay. If learners rely on mobile devices for other day-to-day operations, then facilitators should consider how to incorporate them into the learning strategy.