Written by Bryant Eggett, COO

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 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.


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. Next week I’ll post about what doesn’t work in mobile learning environments.




  • Mobile has become a key element in all communication strategies
  • Mobile gives you the ability to micro target and be proactive instead of reacting


  • Learning doesn’t have to come in large chunks anymore, it can come in snippets that keep learners engaged over a period of time
  • Mobile provides opportunity to gamify learning, which has been proven to increase retention
  • Mobile has also simplified learning processes
  • Mobile provides data on individual, allowing for personalization of learning experience
  • Mobile has transformed how we share and discuss knowledge. It allows for social learning through connections of social networks


  • Successful mobile learning requires more than just adapting your content to fit on a mobile screen
  • Successful mobile learning breaks concepts down into shorter segments that can be learned over a period of time. Most learners won’t watch a video longer than 4 minutes. Learners may be learning during “in-between” moments.
  • Because phones have so many distractions on them, concepts should be presented as clearly and simply as possible
  • Action-based: How do you get people to immediately apply what they have learned?
  • Phones have ruined our attention span. Users want more in less time
  • Why will mobile learning work?
    • How much time do we spend on our phones? They’re always within arms reach
    • Begin with user experience in mind
  • How does your educational material make an impact and keep your users’ attention when they have the world literally at their fingertips?


  • Games work because they don’t feel like an obligation
  • Gaming provides opportunity for collaboration by teaming up with others or playing against others.
    • Leader boards set some employees apart as “experts” that their peers can turn to
  • Also provides motivation through leader boards and healthy competition


  • The cost of mobile learning is very low. No longer do you need to take time off work, disrupt your day, buy lunch for all attendees, pay an overpriced consultant. Cost to deliver face-to-face training is high.
  • The obvious: Access content anywhere. Keep in mind the likely environment of your user while they’re learning via your mobile app. Learning from the couch or train is different than the workplace


  • “It’s allowing anyone to be a learner and everyone to also be a teacher by allowing communication to happen not just top down, but back up, and peer-to-peer.”
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