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

This is the first of a two-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?.

Learning “On the Move” – Key Strategies for a Mobile Learning Program

The mobile devices in our pockets have officially taken over. As of October 2014, there are now more mobile devices than people. Mobile devices have now become the primary internet device for many web users. In fact, the 2015 Internet Trends Report found U.S. web users turn to their mobile device for almost 3 hours of internet time each day.

As usage becomes ubiquitous, we expect these devices to never be out of reach. They have also become an effective learning tool. Hence, the rise of learning now being pushed to the mobile experience.

Just like we learned that taking a classroom experience and putting it online does not make an effective web based training or online learning experience – neither will simply scaling down existing content so it fits on a smaller screen.

Learning Solutions Magazine said it best:

“Being able to view eLearning content on a smartphone doesn’t make it mLearning in just the same way that throwing slides meant for use in instructor-led training onto a web page doesn’t make them eLearning. Redesign is always the best option.”

An effective, strategic mobile learning or performance support program requires new thinking and new approaches. Here are three strategies we have learned building mobile programs for NetDimensions’ clients.

 

Mobile Learning – The 6 C’s of Innovation

It’s been almost a year since we made available our new on-demand mobile learning native application for iPad and Android tablets on the AppStore and Google Play. It’s called NetDimensions Talent Slate and I think it provides a fresh an innovative approach to how our clients are approaching mobile learning. Of course, the market will tell us at the end if we have been right or not.

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What I can say though is that for some time now we have been thinking very hard about what mobile means to learning, employee enablement, and talent development. And allow me to concentrate on tablets here. Because with the advent of the iPad, never before have we experienced a single device on which we can check email, browse the internet, deliver a presentation, do our expense report, read a book, listen to music, watch a movie, play a game, place a video call, and share with our kids. All on the same device.

So, although some describe mobile learning as yet another “channel” or another “modality” of learning, I disagree. I think mobile learning is a paradigm shift, similar to what e-learning was for classroom training. And tablets are the forefront of this paradigm shift.

Nevertheless, most of the early efforts we have been witnessing in mobile learning were all about trying to get e-learning to work on mobile devices. Hence the prevailing question: “how can I get my flash courses to run on the iPad?” I argue that this is not even the right question to ask now, is it? If mobile learning is a paradigm shift, it requires a new wave of innovation for designing, delivering, and tracking learning.

Some of the things we have been working on (and we are still working on) when it comes to our approach on innovating on tablets are:

  1. Cruising – navigating on a tablet is not the same as navigating on a PC or a laptop. NetDimensions Talent Slate features an intuitive navigation concept based on federated search.
  2. Context – context in learning has always been important, but never so much as in mobile learning. My job role and task at hand, my geo location, who (and what) is around me, what I have been doing, the type of device I am using, all provide context that can be extremely relevant to my learning experience.
  3. Connectivity – can it be taken for granted? Is connectivity really ubiquitous globally? We have made NetDimensions Talent Slate operate both online and offline with smart synchronization logic when internet connectivity is available.
  4. Collaboration – a mobile device is used to communicate, so there is the expectation that the application will allow me to locate and connect to other users, share own-generated content, and contribute to the overall knowledge base.
  5. Co-operation – the ability to easily integrate and play well with other systems in the mobile ecosystem is now an even more obvious requirement. Interfaces like the TinCan API will help systems & content speak to each other so that organizations can collect all the learning experiences of their users from across multiple systems into one place.
  6. Content – This will require a different instructional design approach, more tailored to the mobile user and taking better advantage of the unique affordances a mobile device like a tablet offers to users. If we can’t get interactivity or personalized content nuggets on a tablet, where else will we get it?

We have a long way to go still, but now is the time of innovation in the industry, innovation both from technology and content providers and from organizations deploying mobile learning solutions.

And in closing, here’s a product briefing report from the Brandon Hall Group  about NetDimensions Talent Slate.

The consumerization of process

There is a great deal of talk about the consumerization of IT.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, transitions to SaaS (Software as a Service) suppliers, private and public cloud infrastructure investments, etc.

However, there hasn’t been a lot of headline news about the consumerization of company processes. But it’s happening and it goes hand in hand with the system and hardware changes.

People expect not only to be able to use their own tools at work but also to be allowed to use company systems the same way they dip in and out of made-for-consumer systems and services.

This means, among other things, that companies have to rethink some of their top-down service delivery models and invest more in self-service models or at least in better employee-access models.

One of the knowledge management gurus at Green Chameleon posted a blog piece on just this issue in relation to employee engagement around employee generated content or EGC (as opposed to the retail world’s UGC acronym — User Generated Content).

You can find the blog piece here.

It’s worth reading.