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Short bite-sized micro-lessonsGiven learners' short attention span on mobile and the small screen size of mobile devices, good mLearning content is often chunked up into a series of short 3-10 minutes micro-lessons. When possible, interactive elements such as good typography, images, charts and short 2-3 minutes videos are used as these are most memorable and easily absorbed. Even items like file size matters as long videos or high resolution graphics mean a longer loading time and expensive data charges
Transcends the formal learning space and brings structured learning into an informal learning space (Flexible, Self-paced, Self-directed)Informal Learning is like breathing. It happens naturally, always, mostly embedded in other tasks, contextually, often subconsciously, and is always self-initiated. Compared to formal learning andorganized structured learning, informal learning is proven to be more effective (70 - 90% of our job-related skills is learnt through informal learning).mLearning creates an informal learning space by enabling access to learning outside the classroom, empowering learners to take charge of their own learning. Good mLearning platforms often include social elements so that learners are encouraged to share their experiences and learn from each other.
A Form of Performance Support (Just-in-time / On-demand learning)“In a world of fast knowledge development, none of us will have the capability to know much of anything at all. The most important skill we will have will be the ability to go out to get the right knowledge for the right purpose at the right time.”- Jim Carroll, Innovation Expert, Consultant and Author. We are living in an age where creativity, knowledge and innovation are powering the world at an ever increasing pace. A typical salesperson who sold a finite array of products a few years ago now has a more daunting sales portfolio under his domain. In order to compete effectively, we need to be able to quickly unlearn and relearn key competencies. Given the speed of business today, simply waiting around for the next training session will no longer do. This is why the traditional training paradigm is shifting from comprehension and retention to just-in-time learning (JIT learning) to boost employee performance. mLearning acts as a form of performance support by allowing content to be consumed anytime, anywhere, when in need; enabling learners to make better decisions and satisfy customers. Performance support materials such as checklist, flashcards and guides are often used as reference for mLearning.
Despite the fact that there are many more subagents than lead agents, lead agents used the app in much greater numbers. This is a result of two things. First, lead agents are easier for us to reach and speak to, and were more likely to have been told about the app beyond receiving a text message. Second, lead agents are more likely to be literate and tech savvy, and therefore, more likely to be able to engage with the app.
Sub-agents are significantly more likely to participate when in the credit treatment. In fact, half the users in the credit treatment are subagents. This may suggest that among those who are particularly difficult to target for training, providing the participants with an incentive to do so becomes more important.
In terms of why take up wasn't higher, there were two major factors. First, many subagents turned out to not be smart phone literate enough to learn how to use the app on their own. I didn't realize that because take up of the sales app was so high among that group. It turned out that this take up was high because lead agents were walking subagents through that process whereas the mLearning app is not something lead agents seemed to be willing to walk the subagents through. Again, this makes determining what can encourage take-up among these hard to reach employees extra important.
The second factor that slowed take up is our deployment process. We initially intended to text the app to everyone but it turned out we had incorrect contact information for a majority of subagents and some agents. It took us awhile to get the right info, and to follow up with everyone to ensure they received the app. Coordinators were supposed to help us but they were very busy with their main sales jobs.
In general, the app was viewed as secondary relative to sales (not surprisingly), so it was hard to motivate coordinators and TIA to get people on board. I think having buy in from the employer is critical for these things to work and in the "real world" this would be deployed by the employer rather than some outside research group so this is less likely to be an issue and may limit the externally validity of the project.
The training on the app was done for the lead agents who were expected to train their subagents. This did not go well and when the team realized this, they reverted to training the subagents themselves. This meant that some of the subagents only interacted with the app for 2 weeks before the close of the sale window. 2. The app was also introduced at a time when the insurance company was introducing a new cell phone based transaction system. At the same time as part of the newly introduced instructional design materials was the percentile calculator app which meant that the sales agents had three new app to get accustomed to in a short while 3. The leaderboard for the gamification did not show names which could have reduced the competitive aspect of the application as the lead agents could not even identify themselves on the leader board4. The app was also introduced late into the sale window which meant that the agents did not have enough time to clarify issues they had with the app before the close of the sale window. 5. The type of smart phone that was used was also very small and basic which may have interfered with the study.
5. The type of smart phone that was used was also very small and basic which may have interfered with the study.
Gamifying mobile learning to improve organizational efficiency in Africa's first insurance for pastoralists: Experience and initial lessons from IBLI's m-learning experiment with young sales agents
Gamifying Mobile Learning to Improve Organizational Efficiency
in Africa's first Insurance for Pastoralists
Experience and Initial Lessons from IBLI's m-learning Experiment with Young Sales Agents
Iddo Dror – Head of Capacity Development, ILRI
Presented at GFIA Africa Conference, Durban, 2 December 2015, in the session:
‘ Agriculture mobile games: What options for sustainability and for engaging youth? ’
About ILRI - At a Glance
Better Lives Through Livestock
The International Livestock Research Institute
(ILRI) works to improve food security and reduce
poverty in developing countries through research
for better and more sustainable use of livestock.
ILRI is a member of the CGIAR Consortium which
works for a food-secure future.
Find out more about us at www.ilri.org and see
(many, many) presentations about our work at
Snapshot of Mobile Projects at ILRI –
We believe ICT4Ag is part of the solution.
• Gamified m-learning for Livestock Insurance (today’s focus)
• Mobile phone-based diagnostics
• mNutrition / mPig
• Mobile Data Systems for Sustainable Livestock Genetics
• Leveraging Mobile Technology to Match Research Priorities to Farmer Needs
About the Index-Based Livestock Insurance
(IBLI) project – At a glance
• It is an insurance product that is designed to protect against prolonged forage
scarcity in ASALs
• Insured pastoralists receive a pay-out based on a forage availability index, estimated
according to the amount of forage available over a season as indicated by satellite
• IBLI is currently being implemented in parts of Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia
• Over 4000 livestock herders in Kenya have bought IBLI since 2010. The Kenya
Govt./World Bank have rolled out IBLI on a larger scale to targeted pastoralists in N.
• Benefits since inception;
• 36% drop in ‘distress’ sales of livestock
• 25% reduced likelihood of having to
eat significantly smaller meals
• 33% reduction in
dependence on food aid.’
• For more visit: ibli.ilri.org
About IBLI’s Gamified m-Learning Experiment
• Design: Led by Prof. Elizabeth Lions, UCSD.
Experimental design looking at effects of
tradition training, mobile training, cash
incentives and gamification incentives
• Time line: Field Testing: June, 2015
Field Coordinator Training: July, 2015
Experiment: August 1 - Sept 30, 2015
• Data: Independent Variables: Treatment group,
prior sales record, location, surveys and tests.
Dependent Variables: Intensity of app usage,
knowledge of product, sales performance,
Read more at:
Youth Involvement in the Experiment
• All the agents in our study were under 35 –
avg age 26. They were trained sales agents
of Takaful insurance company (the
• Socio Economic status: The youth involved
were from pastoral backgrounds with
additional engagement in small businesses
and IBLI sales/distribution
• Mobile literacy, is high among these youth
as most (lead agents) already have smart
phones which they use for whatsapp,
facebook and games (Farmville etc.)
• Education: Most have post primary school
Why We’re Excited about the
Prospects of mLearning
• Short bite-sized micro-lessons: Fits the
environment where we aim to intervene!
• Transcends the formal learning space and
brings structured learning into an informal
learning space (Flexible, Self-paced, Self-
• A Form of Performance Support (Just-in-
time / On-demand learning)
Games, Gamification, & Game-Based Learning:
Are they the same thing?
• In some situations these terms are being
used to describe the same thing. All have
the same underlying foundations; game
• The difference is primarily in where and how
you apply that game design. They should all
align to the same fundamental principles of
good design to build user engagement and
• However, to some people these three are
entirely different. Important to get the
terminology right in this space.
Very Tentative* Initial Insights
• Uptake (use statistics) much lower than expected -
only around 13-15%. We’ll come back to that in a
• Despite the fact that there are many more
subagents than lead agents, lead agents used the
app in much greater numbers.
• Sub-agents are significantly more likely to
participate when in the credit treatment.
Difference between the credit app and the other
apps is most significant among subagents who are
the hardest to reach.
• The credit app leads to significantly more usage
and take up than the basic app. Basic and gamified
app have statistically the same take up.
* Disclaimer: We do not (yet) have all the outcome data so we do not know how app usage affects IBLT
knowledge or sales. In addition, we do not know if having a lead agent invest time in the mLearning app will
affect sub-agent knowledge or sales. These are all things we will be testing once the data is available and cleaned.
Plans Versus Reality
Execution matters as much as design!
Games / Gaming can be
exciting and ‘sexy’, but
properly… one can lose
much of the intended
Some examples from our
‘wave 1’ work:
Plans Versus Reality
Some of the key issues in IBLI ‘wave 1 mLearning’
• Training of agents and sub-agents (latter not
as ‘smart phone savvy’ as we thought).
• Mobile App introduced when lots else going
on for the agents – deemed lower priority
than other (sales) app bring introduced.
• Graphics / look & feel very basic –
unimpressive in the ‘age of Farmville’
• Gamification leaderboard not optimized
• Deployment issues: e.g. wrong contract info
provided for many subagents - App
introduced late into sales window.
Key Learning: Do not underestimate time and
complexity of rolling out mobile games in ‘real
• We rolled out on a relatively basic
phone with small screen size
• Not enough attention paid to
implications of hardware choices!
Key Learning: Games should be fun –
and the applications customized to the
delivery environment. Basic hardware
can have serious implications on what
we can do in a mobile environment.
On The Bright Side, the Hardware
Scene is Moving in the Right Direction
• Last week you could have purchased a
Motorola E 4G (4.5’ screen, Android
Lollipop, 4G LTE, 8GB memory etc.)
for only USD $10 (!)
Also on the Bright Side:
Youth & Mobile
• Young and tech Savvy: The average age of the lead agents was 26 years – most
were tech savvy and knowledgeable on the use of smart phones
• Educated: Most of these lead agents have attained at least secondary education
and could read – opening possibilities that do not exist with the older population in
• Familiar with mobile games: Some of them had interacted with other forms of
mobile games like Farmville and Candy Crush before.
Looking Ahead - Plans for ‘Wave 2’
• We’re still bullish on the role of
mobile and games in ICT4Ag – and
will continue to a ‘wave 2’ in the near
• Learning from wave 1 challenges will
help shape our next wave.
• Looking for partners in this area –
please get in touch if you’re
interested! Drop me a line at
The presentation has a Creative Commons licence. You are free to re-use or distribute this work, provided credit is given to ILRI.
better lives through livestock