Overcoming Barriers to Mobile Learning Deployment

 

How can you overcome the challenges of deploying mobile learning in your organization?

The first generation iPhone, arguably the first smartphone, was released in June 2007. In the decade since then, the number of users continues to grow at an astounding rate.

Its ubiquity has allowed smartphones to become an effective learning tool especially in business environments, where learners are either located in remote areas with limited internet connectivity, work in manufacturing facilities with no access to desktop computers, or work in the field and are always mobile.

Mobile learning has been a hot topic for learning & development departments for years, however deployments of effective mobile learning strategies have been slow.

Why is mobile not buzzing yet? (Part 2 of 2)

This is the conclusion of a 2-part guest blog post from Speexx, sponsor of NextSteps 2016, NetDimensions’ Global User Conference. Click here to read Part 1.

 

Step 2: Engage, engage!

For the learner, offering training that is optimized for a mobile device can be very engaging, as it allows him or her to drive their learning path, when and where is most convenient. This flexibility impacts the success rate of your learners and therefore the success and cost effectiveness of the training program.

Remember, you want to engage with learners with both content and tools that they are used to seeing outside of the workplace, from gamification elements of learning to mobile devices.

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Why is mobile not buzzing yet? (Part 1 of 2)

This is the first of a 2-part guest blog post from Speexx, sponsor of NextSteps 2016, NetDimensions’ Global User Conference.

Going through recommended readings posted by HR thought leader Laura Overton, I noticed that thought Leaders in HR often speak about the top trends in learning and development. And their bucket list for 2016 includes cloud based learning platforms, micro-learning and ´going mobile´.

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But how much are we using mobile learning in our communication training programs? Are we really implementing it?

Gamification: The Role of Mobile & Social

The always-on mobile age has reshaped the opportunity for gamification in every interaction in our connected lives. From “checking-in” on Facebook or Yelp to crossing off the latest achievement on our Fitbit, we are ready to highlight our achievements – and become participants in a gamification-driven engagement program.

Additionally, social interactions are common in all gaming platforms and are now expected in gamification mechanics. One of the most common social interactions in gamification is through badging, points, levels, or other social recognition techniques that showcase the skills, competencies, experiences, or accomplishments of users.

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Another social interaction is through challenges or contests against other users and the posting of top achievers on leaderboards or the social sharing of their accomplishments. Both these interactions increase engagement by rewarding (either directly or indirectly) users that perform the desired tasks or engage in the desired behaviors that show an understanding and retention of the training materials.

The confluence of these two trends presents an opportunity to introduce a mobile gamification strategy to your staff development and training programs.

In today’s always-connected age, every mobile employee is generally carrying a smartphone or a tablet and can be drawn into a gamified experience at any time, wherever they are.

Mobile games that include the same actions a learner must perform in real-life can further increase the responsiveness, engagement, and effectiveness levels. Moreover, mobile gamification can incorporate many of the functions and applications found on mobile devices expanding the depth and breadth of the learning experience. For example, use of the device camera to record a learner’s observation about a shop floor process that can be shared on a learning portal for peer-to-peer comment and rating resulting in the reward of points for the level of peer rating received. This type of activity, while not immersive, can draw the learner into the activity and maintain their interest.

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As you review your mLearning programs, take a fresh look at how you can add gamification elements to the experience. Re-think how the learning experience can be created. You will not only make the learning program more engaging, but will be tapping into two emerging trends in learning and staff development.

For more about Gamification and its potential for learning and development, download our white paper Gamification – Does it have a place in your L&D Content Development?.

Five Lessons in Mobile Learning

Last week I attended mLearnCon 2011 in San Jose, CA.  mLearnCon is a growing and dynamic event by the eLearning Guild that’s focused on Mobile Learning with a mixed audience of technologists, educators, analysts, corporate L&D professionals, training & courseware providers, and technology vendors (typically for authoring tools, mobile delivery platforms, LCMSs, and LMSs).  This year some really good points came up that reinforce what we have learned the hard way via our own (and our clients’) experiences in implementing mobile learning.  I felt it might be worth recapping here.

  1. What is mLearning? It might sound surprising that there is no clear commonly agreed upon definition of Mobile Learning.  Does it include learning on laptops or not?  Does it imply Internet connectivity?  Does it apply if the experience is not mobile per se?  Does it have to involve some level of collaboration among learners?  Personally, I am not surprised there is no single definition for all.  Because what is becoming clear is that Mobile Learning really means different things to different people (depending on objectives, needs, scope, constraints, resources, and more).Now, as a side note, if you ask me about what definition I feel closer to, I will choose something that approaches mobility from the learner’s point of view and not from a technological perspective; for example the definition in the MOBIlearn Guidelines report that considers mobile learning “… any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technology.”
  2. mLearning is not eLearning on a smartphone. Ok, everyone seems to agree that if you take eLearning and squeeze it to fit the dimensions and resolution of a mobile device is probably not the way to go. And we know enough now to avoid the early eLearning mistakes. Yes?  Right, so why are most conversations focusing on how to make Powerpoint flash content run on iPad?  Is this even the right approach?  On the other hand, what about all this eLearning content that has (finally & successfully) been developed?  Can we port it to mobile?  Should we? According to an excellent study by Bryan Chapman, the average cost of creating an hour of interactive eLearning is $18,500 which can rise to $50,000 with more advanced interactivity. So, how do you justify the ROI moving to mobile learning while protecting this eLearning investment? I think there is a real business challenge here.
  3. It’s the learner, stupid. Maybe it’s just me, but I am seeing that most conversation revolve around devices and platforms instead of the learner.  With mobile, we have an opportunity to design technologies and solutions that put the learner in the center of the learning experience.  An experience that includes content, activities, and people, along with the ability to access and administer all these in an intuitive, if not seamless, way.  The simplest way to do this is by meeting the learners where they are, whenever they need it, and with whatever approach is most effective for the particular situation.  We also have the know-how to do all that while addressing key business drivers like supporting an increasingly mobile workforce, improving on-the-job performance, increasing the impact of corporate L&D programs, and developing a new generation of talent.
  4. mLearning is an evolution, not a revolution. This is what our clients have really taught us.  You need to think big about mobile, but start small.  Take an objective, a program, a specific group mobile and work hard to make sure the undertaking is successful.  It’s always worth listening to your own audience to see what their needs and particular situations are, and hence what makes sense to go mobile.  And always link mobile learning to your overall learning and talent strategy, because that’s where the value lies.
  5. There is no silver bullet in mLearning. No matter what vendors say, there is no single solution for all.  We are dealing with such a diverse ecosystem of technologies and business situations that we need to be thinking along the lines of multiple solution approaches.  And, I would suggest let’s not take innovation out of the way we think about mLearning.  I think there are great things to achieve in front of us, so let’s not make the mistakes of the past.