Harnessing the Digital Age for learning


Nomophobia – anxiety over being separated from your smartphone – it actually has been given a name and more and more people are admitting having the condition. Research has shown that on average, we touch our phones 2617 times a day, with the top 10% ‘power users’ racking up 5,427 touches (source:


We are now a generation with technology literally at our fingertips. We communicate vastly differently from 10 years ago and we have constant access to information from apps and the Internet.


I recently gave a presentation and the subject of mobile learning came up. It surprises me that there aren’t more ‘mobile learning’ companies in the learning market, but when you contemplate this further then you begin to realise that people are learning from all websites accessed on their phone – from the cost of car insurance, the times of cinema showings to research on nuclear fusion – there is a learning outcome from almost all interactions from our smartphones.


Unfortunately learning what your mate from school had for dinner on holiday in Tenerife via Facebook or that someone you once met with has run her fastest 10k via Twitter are unlikely to have significant impacts upon your professional development.


So how do you? How do you embrace the Internet to get learners to use it as a tool for positive development?


Here are some techniques you can use to encourage mobile learning:


  • Identify learning resources that you feel are beneficial to the learners – you can’t find them all, the Internet is a big thing, but doing your research and listing resources that are relevant provides a good starting point and encourages people to dig deeper and find their own information that resonates.
  • Embed aspects of research into your development programmes – take time in the days you have learners to get them looking for relevant information using their phones. There are now 1.2 trillion searches a year on google from mobile devices and this figure is growing. People are well practices in using their devices to find things out, so embrace this wherever it is practical to do so.
  • Encourage collaboration and group discussion – having set learners up with the task of researching using their smartphones then get them to share their findings with the group and highlight things of interest. This helps to embed the learning and makes the experience more memorable. Those who are more tech-savvy can help those with less experience and this helps to build confidence.
  • Create your own e-learning that works on mobile devices – with current authoring tools, it’s now possible to create great looking online courses that work on a variety of devices. But you don’t have to just use the traditional e-learning format. Using blogs, videos, online quizzes and other tools allows you to create online content for your learners.
  • Ask learners to record relevant online learning in a learning log – learning online is something that is happening all the time. Making people think about what they are learning and recording this on their learning record. Our own Learning Record Store allows users to reflect on all learning experiences and build up a way of demonstrating the level of learning taking place using different technologies.


By following some of these ideas you can banish the potential for Nonophobia in learning environments. Give your learners clear definition of when they can use their phones throughout the day and utilise the massive potential that technology gives us to learn.


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