Work with your Brain, Learn on the Go

5th July 2016

As amazing as our brains are, we obviously have limitations. Understanding these limitations and working around them is the best way to improve our capabilities, and technology can help with this in a million ways.

Our brains work best at certain times in the day, so rather than forcing a user to learn when they’d rather be napping after lunch, mobile elearning can utilise their peak learning times. Stevan Pachikov, the founder of Evernote, argued on an interview on Radio 4 that there is no separation between his work and home life and tools that allow him to work anywhere actually allow for more leisure time. Even if we don’t accept this, time commuting would certainly be better spent learning, especially if the learner is feeling fresh in the morning and the e-learning does not rely on an internet connection.

Mobile e-learning offers a lot more, however, than just convenience. Reiterating facts is a powerful learning tool and summaries/mini quizzes on your mobile days after the training is a very effective way to help users strengthen connections and recall information.

It has also been proven time and again that taking a test under the same circumstances as your initial learning will improve results. What better way, therefore, to ensure waiting staff will remember important details in a busy restaurant than have them learn in those conditions?

Dale’s cone of experience teaches us that people retain only 10% of what they read but 90% of what they do*. Practical experience is obviously the best way to learn but what if you could capture the results using a smartphone and attach this to the users learning record? Using mobile e-learning in the field also allows learners to view demonstrations at their own pace, use QR codes to identify equipment and have a cohesive learning experience.

In a study in the 1970’s Robert Bjork et al. found that learning in different environments had a big impact on results, a simple change in venue improved retrieval by 40%. This is another area where mobile learning can come into its own. Setting tasks which utilises a mobile devices camera, microphone or gps makes learning fun and gets people away from the desk.

With so many benefits it is clear that, as hardware continues to improve and with proper security, mobile learning will really come into its own.

* Although often attributed to Edgar Dale these numbers were actually added later by D. G. Treichler.


1. Carey, B. (2015) How We Learn: Throw out the rule book and unlock your brain’s potential.

2. Dale, Edgar. Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching, 3rd ed., Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1969, p. 108

3. Bjork, A. (1978) Environmental context and human memory. Memory & Cognition.