“Work-based mobile learning is increasingly becoming one of the most important means of providing knowledge, skills and competencies to the workforce” reports Auer, Edwards and Zutin (2011: 219). They point out that whereas traditionally on-the-job training had been prevalent, increased access to Internet and enhanced wireless communication resulted in individuals training themselves in any location of their choice.
The rudimentary model of the master-crafts-person teaching one of more apprentices worked well for many centuries. Fast-paced progress; reduced learning time and more complexity with regard to knowledge, skills and competency; resulted in a need for more rapid learning and continuous adaptation to changes.
Auer, Edwards and Zutin (2011: 229) caution those designing and implementing work-based mobile learning to consider adult learning theories such as:
- The experiential learning theory of Charles Rogers (1969) focussing on significant learning only when people actually do things. Cognitive learning according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956) often represents knowledge of encyclopaedia nature; which become irrelevant if not complemented by affective and psychomotor dimensions. Laird’s (1985) sensory stimulation theory advocates that increased incorporation of the senses in instruction consolidates learning. Sight and sound enhances learning; as does kinaesthetic/tactile or learning-by-doing that involves actual manipulation of objects. Action learning and action research stems from these foundations.
- Adult learners bring past experiences—both positive and negative—into the new learning situation; which suggests that the learning contexts must be non-threatening. Whereas young learners can be coerced by grades; adults adapt to cope with life’s changing demands. Often work-based learning opportunities are pursued in order to take advantage of developmental, advancement or promotional opportunities. Learning therefore takes place because of its relevance to immediate needs.
- Stephen Krashen’s Affective Filter Hypothesis (Krashen, 1987) postulates that when a person is threatened or the what is learned conflicts to the person’s existing views; then the learning would not be as fruitful as when the learning reduces perceived threats or complements existing thinking.
- Malcolm Knowles promoted andragogy as adult learning theory in the 1970ties and gained a substantial following; but not without resistance. Zemke (1984) emphasise four important aspects of andragogy, namely: (a) adults learn best if they perceive immediate value; (b) when included in the organisation more learning takes place and learners are more satisfied; (c) actually doing things (kinaesthetic learning) consolidates theory by pooling the senses; (d) and previous experiences are used to relate current learning to.
- The Characteristics of Adults as Learners (CAL) model of Patricia Cross (1981) takes into consideration both personal (such as physical—eye sight, hearing, reaction time; stage of life; experiences; cognitive development—degree of independence, decision-making, vocabulary and reasoning abilities; as well as psychological, social and cultural variables) and situational characteristics (for example, voluntary versus obligatory learning; full or part-time engagement; etc.).
Four aspects to take into consideration when designing mobile work-based learning (p. 233):
- Explain why specific matters (for example commands, functions, and operations) are being taught.
- Make instructions task-orientated and contextualise learning activities within performance requirements.
- Keep in mind the potential wide variety of learner backgrounds and make provision in instructions for various levels and types of previous experience.
- Make use of the self-directedness of adults and enable learners to discover things for themselves; but provide guidance and corrective assistance where necessary.