With the emergence of mobile learning, this is a great time to be involved in learning and development. What do I mean by that?
Imagine a world where you have immediate access to the latest versions of all the company training courses you’ve ever done, access to short nuggets of training to remind you of what you’ve learnt and might be in danger of forgetting, or just-in-time training and reference materials for those tough and specific tasks that normal training can never cover. Add to this job aids and procedures to help you perform the task at hand, news updates and a full library of other multimedia digital resources.
Now imagine that everything is filtered for its relevance to you and is delivered to your device, be it a laptop, a tablet or smartphone. Imagine being able to search it, access it offline and have your learning experiences automatically tracked. Now imagine all that being managed and updated from a single central platform that’s also looking after many thousands of your colleagues. I’d say that’s a great time to be involved in learning and development.
Imagine no more
The exciting thing is that all of this is now available as part of proven mobile learning solutions. With mobile devices leaping forwards in terms of functionality and capacity, and with network bandwidth and WiFi options dramatically increasing, all the technology is available.
User expectations in this area have never been higher – they demand good quality content, attractive user interfaces and extreme ease of use. The companies doing the training demand a comprehensive mobile learning platform with ease of operation, tailored content, massive amounts of feedback, completion and assessment data and, most importantly, the assurance that the money and effort that they are putting into their training is actually improving staff performance and efficiency.
Let’s look at how you could deliver effective mobile learning and employee performance support.
5 Steps to Mobile Learning
Think about how you might want to mobile-enable your own organisation. All the solution elements are in place and proven. To make it manageable, I’ve broken it down into a five-step approach which you might find useful:
1. Understand what you want to deliver to your community and why
Think about the curriculum design – does a mobile learning delivery approach support your overall strategic objectives and if so which topics will still best be covered by the following methods:
- distance learning
- just-in-time training
- performance support tools
Maybe some will need them all. There are plenty of learning consultants out there who can help, but remember to pick someone who has already got real experience.
Mobile content is consumed in a different way to traditional eLearning, so you will probably want to roll with the flow here and provide content in a form that meets the user’s preferences. In my experience of the mobile world, this means shorter, more focused content, delivered at more regular intervals – content that is designed to augment and add value to your existing training programs.
2. Pick the technology solution that you need
You need one that works, is customisable, supports system’s integration and is flexible enough to handle your own specific requirements. As a minimum you will need a central mobile learning platform to centrally manage the publishing and targeted distribution of your multiple types of content to mobile devices. Think about scalability and ensure your solution can handle lots of additional content and user numbers into the future. You will also need Apps for the mobile devices themselves to enable users to locally store, search and consume content, collecting and tracking user analytics to pass back to the mobile learning platform. Usability will be a key thing, the Apps and the content have to look and feel great and be really easy to use, otherwise users will simply avoid using them.
3. Create your content in the right format
If you want to distribute to smartphones use responsive content, and keep the learning content short and easy to digest. Remember that however seamless the technical solution, the quality of the content is what it is all about and excellent instructional design is vital. Converting your old content to run on mobiles is entirely feasible, but the cost will vary on the effort required. Conversion is usually quicker and cheaper than reconstruction – but not always, so spend a little time talking this through with your suppliers, they should be able to come up with a few different alternatives for you to choose from.
4. Pick a good mobile ready hosting and delivery platform
You will need a mobile ready Learning Management System (LMS) or if you already have a corporate one and don’t want another just for mobile, then go for a mobile learning platform, which specifically supports a rich variety of digital learning asset types and comes with Apps for all major mobile operating systems. It should be possible to integrate data feeds into your main corporate LMS if required – so ensure the system has integration APIs. System reliability, scalability, security and ease of operation are all factors which a trusted supplier can help you with.
5. Don’t forget to think Apps!
This is a big part of what your users will see, so the experience has got to be fluid, slick and dare I say it, beautiful. Rich functionality is important and by this I mean local catalogue, search, offline consumption, data tracking and analytics, push notifications, access to the device’s photo and video libraries for user generated content and so on.
My preferred approach is to use native Apps (i.e. Apps created specifically to run on the target mobile operating system), rather than less capable, generic web Apps. The user experience and performance is so much better and they open up the full capabilities inherent in the device – very important for more advanced functionality.
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