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BYOD - Challenges and Opportunities

BYOD - challenges and opportunities

Category: Mobile Learning

It is fair to say that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has had a major impact in the workplace. More and more employees are, to some extent or other, using their own devices at work. 

BYOD opportunities

Technological advances – cloud computing, responsive design techniques and Experience APIs – are combining with the BYOD phenomena to create huge opportunities. Whilst corporate eLearning as we know it is still, and will remain, important, technology can now support so much more than just eLearning. Some of the opportunities presented by the new scenario in which we find ourselves include:

  • Increasing the reach of formal training
  • Augmenting formal training
  • Reference material delivery, just-in-time training
  • Performance support
  • Social learning?

Increasing the reach of formal training

We can now do this by giving people the chance to learn when and where they want. Training can be supported via tablets and smartphones (though remember, devising training for smartphones requires considerable design adaptation) and more sophisticated Learning Management Systems (LMS) can now gather more and richer data to analyse, over time, which content is being used and how, and which content is not being used. This means you can continually refine your content strategy.

Augmenting formal training

You may know the work of William Thalheimer. He states learning events strengthen memory for information and that different rates of learning can be achieved by varying the spacing between learning events. However, if learning is not put into practice, or reinforced, between events then new information is quickly forgotten. This is the ‘forgetting curve’, sadly it’s much steeper than the learning curve shown here:

This is where BYOD and new technology present a golden opportunity; we can now regularly deliver, anywhere and anytime, on demand or pushed, bite-size nuggets of information to continually reinforce learning. We are no longer chained to the desktop.

Reference material delivery – just-in-time training

There are many cases which are perfect for just-in-time training and delivering reference material as and when needed:

  • Sales: reference materials such as product promos, sales battle cards, competitor intelligence. This kind of information gives a powerful boost to the mobile salesperson.
  • Engineering: instruction manuals, plans and other reference material for the field engineer to help, for example, deal with unfamiliar equipment.
  • Medical: to help doctors determine correct drug dosages or disease pathologies.
  • Financial services: information about annuity rates, interest rates and new regulations.
  • For maximum effectivity these delivery systems require that:
  • Effective indexing and search so the information is easy to find.
  • Flexible formatting that’s viewable on PCs, laptops and mobile devices.
  • Notifications (push notifications on mobile devices are excellent) when there is new or updated content to view

Performance Support

Nowadays people expect almost instant access to information and social networks. Demand for the same in the workplace is growing, so it is now necessary to design learning technologies that help learners find what they need, when they need it. I believe that, particularly with respect to mobile devices, contextual relevance and ‘discoverability’ are more important than artistically beautiful content. Be prepared to use videos, checklists, infographics and Apps as bite-size performance support tools, distributed centrally and targeted at specific employees or job functions.

Social Learning

Social learning represents a huge community with vast learning potential. A world-wide forum in which users can generate and share content, read and rate content, view video, join groups and forums, discuss and share ideas.

Responsive Web Content

Now that we have to design and produce content for a wide range of devices, it’s no longer viable to target and produce content for specific platforms. To help solve this problem consider using responsive HTML5 content that will work across a range of platforms. Responsive content is now increasingly important for Learning & Development professionals as well as authoring tool and content developers. Put simply, responsive content is content that changes its layout according to a consumer’s browser width. The technological base is HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, creating responsive, fluid, block based content layout which can be arranged differently depending on the consumer’s browser. For example, on a desktop, 3 images would be placed side by side but on a smartphone the images would be placed one beneath the other.

Adaptive content can do even more. It can also allow content to be interchanged – depending on the consumer’s device. This capability is particularly noteworthy for eLearning designers. For example, you can have a very large, high resolution image displayed on a PC, which is optimised to a much smaller image for a smartphone. Other examples; an interactive graphic on the desktop is dynamically replaced by a video on a smartphone or an animation on a PC shows as a static image with bullet points on a smartphone.

Responsive and adaptive authoring tools are now available. Though, the best content will still need skilled instructional designers capable of presenting information in an engaging, understandable format.

LMS and BYOD mobile learning

The BYOD revolution and changing technology also have implications for today’s LMSs because increasingly the LMS has to be able to deliver and track more than just conventional SCORM-based eLearning. As well as the many different file types an LMS platform must be able to support, content discoverability is also an important issue. LMS systems today are often content ‘black holes’ with content being produced, added, consumed and then forgotten. But BYOD and mobile devices now mean that we need to produce modular, reusable, nuggets of content  that can be used as part of a formal course or as stand-alone items, all of which must be discoverable and usable as and when needed.


BYOD has proved a game changer for Learning & Development professionals with huge opportunities for cross device learning solutions and technology that supports much more than just traditional eLearning.

How are you delivering and building content, will it be usable tomorrow, across multiple platforms and is it discoverable?

Alex Mackman
Author: Alex Mackman

This article was published by Alex Mackman on 21.01.2016. Alex is Technical Director at Agylia. He's responsible for product strategy and operations. He has a passion for technology, specifically how it can be applied to learning and CPD.

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