Mobile phones have come a long way in the last few decades. We have seen substantial improvements in functionality and a boom in apps.
We spend hours per day scrolling through our mobiles. These devices are a part of our daily life. Now, there is an app for pretty much everything from shopping and gaming to paying your bills and ordering groceries.
It only makes sense that there are also apps for learning. In fact, there are thousands of apps that focus on personal or employee development. Today, we focus on mobile learning apps.
Humans and Mobile Phones
The first wireless telephone was patented in 1908, but true innovation only started in the 1940s. However, these first models were not really mobile phones at all. They were more like two-way radios and were often used by taxi drivers and emergency workers to communicate.
As such, mobile phones as we know them today have only been around for the last few decades, ever since the start of the smartphone boom. Yet, most of us couldn’t live without our phones. It’s as if they are an extension of ourselves.
Now, there are over seven billion mobile phone users in the world, covering 90.72% of the world’s population. Of these, 83.07% own a smartphone. As a result, we spend an astonishing average of 4.8 hours on our mobile phones every day.
Mobiles even account for over half of the total web traffic worldwide. Since 2017, mobile has accounted for 50% of the traffic before surpassing it in 2020.
In fact, we now spend more time scrolling through mobile apps than watching TV. While we use our mobiles for an average of 288 minutes per day, TV viewing times have declined from 242 minutes in 2010 to 179 minutes in 2021.
It’s clear that mobiles are here to stay! We are seeing more and more advancements in the mobile technology industry.
The drastic increase in mobile phone usage has seen a big growth in mobile app development. Apps are computer programmes or software applications that are designed to run on your mobile device.
Applications run on your smartphone’s operating system. As a result, they can make use of your mobile’s built-in features, like camera, video or GPS.
The number of mobile app downloads surpassed 200 billion in 2019. Back in 2008, the iOS App Store launched with 500 apps. Now, there are nearly nine million apps, of which two million were launched in 2021 alone.
Today, consumers have downloaded over 230 billion mobile apps. This is 63% more than in 2016, when the number was 140 billion. Just the third quarter of 2022 saw combined downloads of 35.3 billion apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Similarly, app revenue has increased steadily, creating a booming market. For example, mobile apps are estimated to generate over 600 billion dollars in 2025.
Of these, mobile games make up the biggest revenue share. The game sector generates approximately 60% of total app revenue worldwide. It’s followed by photo and video apps.
The most active mobile users can be found in Indonesia, Singapore, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Russia, Turkey, the US and the UK. The daily time spent on apps reaches four or five hours per day in these countries.
What is a Mobile Learning App?
Classes, seminars, training units or whole training courses are no longer confined to the classroom. As a result, mobile learning apps are reshaping the education industry.
Just like other apps, learning apps are software on your mobile that enables you to learn on your portable devices. These apps, too, work on your mobile phone’s operating system.
The only difference is the use case: these apps are solely used for educational purposes. Now, whether you are seeking to learn a new language or master the intricacies of quantum physics, there is a learning app for it.
Most learning apps can be seen as an integration of a learning management system (LMS) and mobile technology. As a result, your users learn through customised, end-to-end mobile learning solutions.
The Benefits of Mobile Learning Apps
Mobile phones fit in your pocket and give you access to millions of resources with just a few taps. It’s easy to see why we are so glued to our phones!
This increased accessibility and portability are essential in today’s fast-paced world. Your learners, regardless of whether they are students or employees, have many plates to juggle. Fitting face-to-face training or virtual training sessions into their schedule isn’t easy.
Mobile learning apps enable Just-In-Time (JIT) learning where training is available on demand. As a result, learners can break free from the typical shackles of traditional face-to-face training.
In a nutshell, learning apps ensure your learners can use familiar tools for learning whenever they want, irrespective of their physical location.
2. User Experience
Half the reason we end up spending nearly five hours scrolling through apps is that they are engaging. From following the rise of TikTok dances to watching cute cat videos, we enjoy using mobile apps because they are designed with our devices in mind.
This means they are designed in harmony with your smartphone usage habits. As such, the interface will make sense to people navigating on a smaller screen and tapping away with their fingers.
Similarly, apps are coded for mobile devices. As a result, learning apps run faster than, for example, a responsive LMS and can take advantage of the smartphone’s built-in functionality.
This enhances the user experience and allows you to deliver training in new, more interactive ways!
3. Online & Offline Sync
Learning apps give your learners more freedom. After all, they can complete training wherever they want, whenever they want.
However, true 24/7 accessibility is only possible with online and offline sync. This is a feature that comes as standard on many mobile learning apps (including Growth Engineering Learning App).
This means your learners can download content to complete without an internet connection. Their progress will sync on the app when they have a stable connection once again.
The Disadvantages of Mobile Learning Apps
1. Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that humans value in-person interaction. Mobile apps, on the other hand, focus on the digital world which limits opportunities for deeper interaction. This is especially true for older-generation learning apps.
Luckily, you can minimise this by including social learning features in your learning app. These features help your learners to stay connected with their peers even when learning online.
Human attention spans are shrinking. As a result, we lose our focus over the smallest distractions. This is an especially big threat when you use the same device for learning that you typically use for aimlessly scrolling through social media.
The key to drawing your learners back to their learning application lies in making sure it’s as engaging as any alternative demands on your users’ time. Approaches like gamification and social learning are essential. We will explore these engagement approaches later on in this article.
3. Manual Download Process
To use a mobile learning application, your learners need to download it onto their devices. This creates an extra step before getting started with learning.
Similarly, learners typically use their personal devices for mobile learning. This means they might have to free up storage space to accommodate the app. As a result, some learners won’t want to download the application.
10 Components of a Good Mobile Learning App
1. Supported on IOS and Android
Let’s start with a rather obvious point! Your learners should be able to access training regardless of what phone they are using. As such, good learning applications are available in both the Apple and Android stores.
The best apps out there have been downloaded millions of times. All these apps have one thing in common: they do their thing well.
The same goes for your mobile learning app. It isn’t meant to be an LMS in an app wrapper. After all, you complete activities on an LMS that aren’t suitable for mobile devices (such as lengthy learning experiences and tricky assessments).
Instead, good learning apps give streamlined experiences for learners, taking the advantages and limitations of mobiles into account.
Nothing is more annoying than an app that keeps crashing or takes minutes to load. After all, we have come to expect a consumer-grade experience from every app we use.
A good learning application is a reliable and speedy piece of software that your learners come to trust. A clunky or slow experience is guaranteed to put them off of their training.
4. Quality Content
On a learning app, your content has no room to hide. It’s the primary asset in your employee development efforts. As such, you shouldn’t compromise on its quality.
Online learning typically gives more autonomy to the learner. They explore content on their own and often guide their own journey. This new information needs to be relevant and presented clearly.
5. Easy Navigation
Your learners come from various backgrounds and age groups. They may have different capability levels when it comes to using technology and mobile apps.
That’s why your learning app needs to have clear navigation across the application. After all, you want to create a seamless user experience that suits all your learners.
All different areas of your app should look clean and instruct users on the right way to navigate each page. Arrows, buttons, contrasting colours, animations and written instructions will help with this.
6. Learner Assessments
Any educational tool is incomplete without in-depth assessment systems in place. You need to be able to analyse your learners’ growth to determine the true impact of your training programme.
As such, your courses should be coupled with appropriate assessments. These tests can be, for instance, multiple-choice questions based on the topics your learners have explored.
However, most learning applications offer vast assessment tools that help you to keep things fun and exciting.
7. Design Elements
Your learning app should reflect your brand inside and out. As such, good learning applications are customised so that learners can recognise them instantly.
This level of personalisation includes everything from your app icon and name to your colour scheme and illustrations.
If you have strong brand guidelines, you should utilise them across your learning platform. However, you can also create new themes for your learning programme..
Whatever you pick, it should remain consistent throughout your application and courses.
On top of assessments, you need data to understand if your learning app is creating the desired results. After all, you’ll want to track engagement, social interactions, assessment scores and content completion all in one place.
The industry’s best learning apps enable exactly this. These learning apps come with a reporting dashboard with custom fields and ad hoc reporting options.
This dashboard is often web-based, so it’s easier to configure your data. As a result, you are able to generate custom reports and have all the data you need when it comes to evaluation.
Integrations enable you to connect your mobile learning app, or another learning platform, to other existing applications. This can be a major boost for your learning initiative as it allows you to automate tasks like adding, amending, or deleting users.
Even better, make sure your learning app provider offers custom integrations. Custom integrations help you to ensure your learning app slots neatly into your software stack and fulfils all your training needs.
10. Engaging Features
While learning is typically all about content, the experience becomes much more effective with some engaging and fun features. After all, you don’t want your learners to drift off after ten minutes of training.
15 Tips for Creating an Effective Learning App Strategy
Certain features, tools, approaches and strategies are guaranteed to get your mobile learners engaged. Let’s have a look at some of the ways you can supercharge your learning app strategy!
1. Utilise Gamification
As previously mentioned, games eat up the biggest share of the global app market. And it makes sense: games are fun and engaging, and many of them support social interactions.
It’s no wonder why gamification has become such a big thing in the learning and development (L&D) scene. Gamification takes the fun elements of games and adds them to less exciting environments to make them more engaging.
Here at Growth Engineering, we are big gamification advocates. In fact, our mobile solution, Growth Engineering Learning App, is packed full of gaming mechanics that make training engaging and effective.
For instance, you can implement Battles: peer-vs-peer or squad-vs-squad quizzes. This healthy competition skyrockets learner activity as they want to climb up the Leaderboard and demonstrate their skills.
Similarly, the whole platform is gamified with elements like Experience Points (XP), Badges and Leaderboards. Learners gain rewards for each positive action, fuelling them to continue their learning journey. What better way to learn than while having fun?
2. Build a Learning Community
The popularity of social media apps only highlights what we already know: humans are inherently social animals. In fact, the social element keeps us engaged.
Similarly, adding a social layer to your learning will help you to create a learning community with a flourishing knowledge-sharing culture. Social learning features, like the Social Feed and Clubs, give your learners a platform to communicate and learn from each other.
This encourages them to apply their training in real-life situations. The added social interaction gives your learners a reason to keep using their learning application.
To encourage social learning, start conversations in the social areas of your learning app. For example, you can create challenges in your Clubs by asking learners to share their experiences on the topic at hand.
3. Make It Micro
Long and text-heavy content is boring and tiring on any device, but even more so on a mobile phone’s smaller screen. Luckily, mobile learning and microlearning are a match made in heaven.
It’s little wonder why microlearning makes learning transfer 17% more efficient!
Microlearning content is also quicker and easier to create. For example, using our content tool, Growth Engineering Authoring Tool, makes it 10x faster to create high-impact content.
4. Create Customised Learning Pathways
Every learner has their unique learning needs. These needs are determined by your learners’ roles, current skill levels, career goals and overall interests.
While this is natural, it also means every learner needs content and training that suits them. After all, no one will want to complete unnecessary training hours if it won’t benefit them in the short- or long-term.
As such, create your learning app strategy by determining customised learning pathways. You could, for example, do this on an individual, team or department level.
These customised learning paths essentially determine which content is visible and to whom. What’s more, you can then push and pull content directly into these flexible user groups.
5. Push and Pull Content
A pushing and pulling strategy ensures you get your learners using the right content. As such, it’s a critical part of your customised learning pathways.
In a nutshell, your push strategy involves pushing specific content in front of the right learners so it’s easy for them to access. This content needs to be relevant and high quality to be beneficial.
Your pull strategy, on the other hand, involves implementing a strategy that naturally draws your learners towards the most beneficial content. You need to encourage your learners to actively seek out the training material they wish to explore.
A healthy blend of push and pull content ensures your learners get the best of both worlds. After all, they still have the autonomy to take control over their own learning by consuming the content they desire while getting guidance in their development.
6. Use Various Content Types
A good learning app strategy requires mobile-first content. However, using one type of content to deliver all your training programmes will get boring very quickly. As such, make sure you mix things up!
Use various content types to engage your learners on their mobile devices. Your content could be delivered in text, video or audio format. In addition, use illustrations, scenarios, narrative, learning games or group activities to make your content more fun.
However, keep your audience and subject matter in mind when planning what content types to utilise. For example, a software tutorial may be easier to remember from a video or an illustration than plain text.
7. Keep Everything Consistent
Other than being social animals, humans are a creature of habit. We come to expect an action or event if we see it happening day after day.
This is why you need to keep your training schedule regular and consistent. To do so, determine a content release calendar and release new content in pre-set intervals. For example, launch a new training unit every Tuesday and communicate it to your users.
Consistent training ensures that your learners are waiting for their new content unit to be released, making it a habit. They will be more drawn to continue their training, which, in turn, helps with knowledge retention and engagement.
In addition, keep your communication consistent. Use your mobile learning app to send push notifications or use email. Whatever channel you use, just ensure you stick with it.
Your learners are guaranteed to get confused if you’re constantly approaching them via different channels. Having a well thought out communication plan can make a big difference.
8. Take Advantage of Content Templates
Even if you are creating microlearning content, it will take resources. You need to research the topic or collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs), create a content draft, proofread it all and jazz your unit up with illustrations, video and some gamification elements.
Luckily, you can streamline this process by using content templates. These files contain pre-formatted or partly designed elements that you can then tweak to fit the specific needs of your content unit.
These templates come with your desired style ‘baked in’. This includes your fonts, formatting, headings and so on. As a result, you no longer have to spend time formatting your slides and can rely on consistent content creation processes.
9. Include Learning Games
Learning games can be extremely effective when it comes to improving your learners’ knowledge retention. They are a sure way to engage your learners by making the learning experience more interactive and fun.
However, just like gaming apps, learning games come in many shapes and sizes. As such, when you are building your learning game or selecting one of your provider’s game templates, make sure it matches your content.
This doesn’t mean your game cannot be abstract or push the boundaries. It definitely can — as long as it resonates with your specific audience.
10. Use Learner-Generated Content
The chances are that you are not a subject matter expert for every topic in your learning library. As such, once you have established a successful social learning strategy, take advantage of the knowledge your learners have.
As they share their experiences, tips, guidance and questions on the social channels of your learning app, make sure to monitor these areas closely. You will find examples of real-life situations that you can use in your training programme.
Similarly, these discussion subjects or questions help you to identify topic areas you may need to create more training on. After all, if your learners have devoted time to inquire about it, they are clearly interested in learning more!
11. Share the Workload
Managing a training initiative is hard work. This is the case even if your mobile learning app provides extensive automation options that help with time-consuming tasks like user uploads, reporting or content creation.
Sharing the workload ensures you have the resources to oversee your training programme while resting assured that your mobile learning app is in good hands. That’s where different access and visibility groups come into play.
For example, on Growth Engineering Learning App, you can assign users as Admins or Managers. Admins have complete access and visibility, whereas Managers can edit Learners in their teams and generate relevant reports.
12. Reward Engagement
Our brain releases dopamine when we expect or receive a reward. It’s natural for us humans to chase that rush of dopamine, as it’s one of the feel good hormones our brain releases.
You can take advantage of this when designing your learning app strategy! In fact, you should reinforce and reward the behaviour you want to see from your learners. After all, the goal is to change your learners’ behaviour so that learning becomes a natural part of their life.
As such, set rewards for, for instance, completing twenty pieces of content within a month, scoring over 90% in an assessment or logging on for seven days in a row.
Some of today’s learning apps come with a Streaks function that is designed to ensure your learners keep coming back to your training platform. We are naturally wired to try to keep the streak going for as long as we can. In fact, we are fuelled by extrinsic and intrinsic motivation!
13. Structure Your Content Library
Your training programme may have hundreds, if not thousands, of units of content. While this may be essential to tackle any prevailing skill gaps, it can also cause an admin or user experience nightmare.
With this in mind, make sure to structure your content library and categorise your microunits into folders and subfolders. Similarly, use tags so that your learners can easily search for relevant content.
This makes it easier for your learners to find what they are looking for. And, of course, it makes it more efficient for your Admins to manage all your content. A win-win if you ask us!
14. Run Pre-Scheduled Reports
Reporting can be a time-consuming task to add to your weekly workload. To make the process easier, you should take advantage of the automatic scheduled reporting most learning app providers offer.
Once you have identified the data you need and created any custom reports, you can schedule them to run automatically at a set time. This ensures that you get your reports at a time that suits you the best without having to do anything manually.
What’s even better is that you can specify a list of emails in the settings. This pool of people will receive all your scheduled reports, ensuring that your key stakeholders have access to the data they need.
15. Send Push Notifications
Most of today’s modern mobile apps take advantage of push notifications. These automated messages can serve many different purposes.
Some app providers use push notifications to share current news, promote their services or products or to communicate with their users. However, on top of this, push notifications are an excellent way to nudge and remind your users to take a desired action.
Implementing push notifications into your mobile learning strategy helps you to draw your learners back to their learning platform. For example, you can send inbuilt messages about social updates, content releases or new gamification challenges.
In addition, you can create bespoke push notifications for specific users, user groups or your entire learner population. It’s the fastest and most effective way to get a message through to your learners.
Mobile applications are here to stay, and so are learning apps. Increased accessibility, engaging features, high-impact content and convenience make mobile learning applications popular and effective.
Combined with microlearning strategies, gaming mechanics and social learning features, learning apps have the power to supercharge employee development.
Are you ready to learn how to get your learners engaged in their training? Then our guidebook is for you! Click the link below.