Smartphones and tablets are amazing devices that enable us to perform tasks previously only possible from a PC. In the palm of our hands, we now have technology that allows us to communicate, collaborate and share information instantly, from anywhere. So how can you put these mobile tools to work for your company's learning programs?
Why Mobile Learning Makes Sense
Mobile devices enable anytime, anywhere access.
The unparalleled convenience of smartphones and tablets is one strong reason to consider mobile learning. By making learning accessible from mobile devices - and enabling employees to complete learning activities on their own schedule - organizations can reap big dividends. With flexible learning options, organizations can accommodate diverse learning styles, increase course completion rates and achieve greater learning impact.
Mobile is the computing device of choice.
Beyond excellent performance, today's mobile devices are also incredibly responsive and easy to use, making them the preferred method for accessing information online. The ever-growing number of mobile-friendly applications - coupled with faster and more reliable mobile connectivity options - only add to the appeal.
Who's Using Mobile Learning Today?
It's no surprise to learn that today's biggest names are already on board with mobile learning (or making big strides to get there). Check out these success stories:
Guitar Center Wanted More Stories to Tell
Guitar Center, the world's largest retailer of musical instruments and related equipment, had a challenge: getting its 12,000 employees - especially sales associates - to share information across its 250 geographically dispersed stores.
Using a modern learning management system (LMS) with robust mobile and social collaboration tools, employees can now disseminate information quickly to other associates. They are recording, posting and sharing stories of upcoming musical events and sales strategies.
As Chris Salles, Director of eLearning for Guitar Center notes, "People want to learn on their own terms, when it makes sense for them."
Cisco Wanted Just-in-Time Learning
Cisco Systems relies heavily on channel partners, who account for almost 80 percent of company revenue. To support global sales enablement, Cisco uses its online training hub - Partner Education Connection (PEC) - to support the diverse learning needs of its 100,000 channel partner associates. Using PEC, partners can register for classes, join virtual classes, take eLearning, and find a wealth of downloadable product information that can be searched on demand.
Since much of Cisco's content was already in mobile-friendly formats (e.g., MP4, PDF, PowerPoint, Word), the company was able to quickly offer partners access to this content through mobile devices. PEC users often find answers to their questions while on-site, so they no longer have to return to their office to solve their customer's problem. Today, 25 percent of the PEC site's usage originates from mobile devices, and this percentage is only expected to rise as Cisco continues to convert its eLearning courses to run on phones and tablets.
Ready to dive in? Five tips for getting started
If you're ready to accelerate your own mobile learning efforts, here are five tips to help you get started:
Tip 1: Adopt an experimental mindset.
Many companies start their mobile learning rollout plan with a small pilot program. Think of your pilot program as an exclusive pre-launch for select individuals or groups within your organization. This helps you minimize risk, create internal champions, and test your new mobile learning strategy and processes.
Tip 2: Choose a project you can turn into a pilot program.
This could be any class, process or community you think could benefit from mobile learning. Consider adding mobile access to that community's social group, so people can interact, post thoughts or answer questions even outside of class or business hours. The goal is to gain familiarity with the technology, how content works and how learners interact with it.
Tip 3: Evaluate your internal resources.
Can your existing LMS help facilitate your mobile learning strategy through the development and management of social learning groups? Even if not, you can still get started by creating a community using an existing tool or leveraging private groups on free sites like LinkedIn or Facebook.
If your learning content isn't already in a mobile-friendly format or responsive design, it may take some time to get it there. Begin that process today. If you have a large SCORM-based library, it can take some time to get it mobile-ready, especially if you have Flash-based videos. Those will have to be converted or redone, typically in MP4 format. You should also make sure your learning platform will index all your content, so your learners can quickly and easily find what they need while on the go.
It's helpful to distinguish between your "must-haves" and "nice-to-haves." Do you need just-in-time learning, search and browse functionality? How about offline access to content when your learners can't connect to the Internet? Or mobile approvals and a dashboard to help managers keep up with their teams? Whatever your needs or goals, start by building a list of requirements.
Tip 4: Eliminate a potential financial barrier.
Mobile learning requires data usage, so consider buying some goodwill with your mobile learners - and helping drive adoption - by covering their data cost during the pilot program. If you start with a small group, the cost won't break the bank - and the knowledge you gain will be well worth the price.
Tip 5: Run the pilot program like a project.
Establish your goals and learning objectives up front. Afterward, reflect on what worked well and what didn't. Ask yourself: Was the tool sufficient? Was the content properly organized? Were there access issues? What were the learners' mindsets? Was it an overall success? What needs to change to improve on the performance? “
The time is right for mobile learning
There are plenty of compelling reasons to consider mobile learning today. With a robust mobile learning strategy, L&D leaders can deliver the modern learning experience employees want, while also achieving organizational objectives.
Click here to learn how Saba's mobile learning capabilities can engage your learners, elevate skills and maximize impact.