Beyond the classroom
Traditional workplace training often takes the form of classroom-style group learning, which is cost-heavy and results in hours of workday productivity lost.
In this type of environment, employees are often unable to fully concentrate on the training, as they have busy work schedules and deadlines, and might be distracted or stressed about work that needs to be completed.
Mobile education, on the other hand, brings interactive learning directly to the individual. The learner can go through the course material at his or her own pace, without being distracted by classmates or work pressures.
Through mobile learning, businesses across Africa will have a greater control over how the information is disseminated to their employees, and how it is consumed.
By downloading the course material onto smartphones or tablets, employees can access their notes and assignments at a quiet time during the workday, or even on a train, taxi, flight, or while waiting for an appointment.
If the learner feels more comfortable taking their time with the material and engaging with it at home, there is the scope for this too.
With the rise of mobile technology in Africa, we are presented with an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ traditional structures by cutting out dedicated office learning centres and the need for facilitators. Through smartphones and tablets, training can be delivered to the learner anywhere at any time.
In business, we are starting to see the rise of ‘enterprise mobility’, which is a term used to describe the trend of working outside of an office environment, and using mobile devices and cloud services to carry out business tasks.
This trend is accelerating in Africa, where collaboration and consulting beyond the formal office structures, is prevalent. This more remote, collaborative way of working is at its essence mobile; by embracing mobile education now, you are equipping your workforce for this change.
While millions of Africans have access to smart phones and tablets, they are often only connected to the internet when connected to a WiFi hotspot, as opposed to utilising paid-for data.
To overcome this, mobile learning has offline capabilities, meaning that learners can download the material when they are online to access it when they are offline. This makes the learning material accessible, whether the learner is connected to the Internet or not.
As tech hubs, which were initiated in Kenya and South Africa, continue to pop up across Africa, even those living in remote geographic areas can make use of access to the internet via these WiFi zones. Here, people can download the material onto their device, and engage with the information at home, or on the go, even if they are not connected to the internet.
Workplace training traditionally happens in a lecture-style environment, where learners are taught concepts which they then need to put into practice.
Flipped learning, which is practiced in many parts of the world, is where we take this theoretical component out of the training room and make it available anywhere anytime. The employee will then learn the theory at their convenience and use the instructor’s time to show and mentor the employee while on the job.
There is huge scope for this concept to take flight in Africa, with adults taking the time to learn the course material individually, on their smartphones or tablets, in their own time, and then coming back to the workplace to utilise this knowledge. In this way they can gain real-time, relevant experience, which will cement the knowledge and skills.
An online learning community
If it seems counterintuitive to suggest that you can have more interaction and discussion in an online platform, than in a real-life classroom scenario, you only have to look to social media and WhatsApp to know that digital communication is more prevalent than ever before.
Through discussion forums, fellow learners can discuss topics related to the course material and ask online facilitators for assistance with points they might be struggling with. In this way, a community of learning is created. Peer assessment is also a very valuable component of digital learning.
Fellow online learners are able to assist and give feedback to one another. This creates an opportunity for learners to communicate and discuss the material; this is where the real learning happens, amongst peers.
Across the globe, many businesses’ training budgets have been squeezed, and they don’t have the capacity for staff members to dedicate weeks of working hours to training.
In African markets, which are developing rapidly, this is often particularly true. As companies are under pressure to innovate and stay ahead, there is no time to stop business operations for training. Rather, the training needs to keep up with the fast-paced environments and work demands in order to meet the needs of the learner. The only way for this to happen effectively is through online, mobile-centred learning.
Education and skills training is vital to ensure a more productive and motivated workforce. Thanks to technological advances and the move to mobile, this effective workplace training in Africa is more accessible than ever before.