The trends in global mobile usage are hard to ignore. In fact, right here in the U.S., more and more millennials are opting to forgo owning computers, accessing the Internet on their tablets and smartphones...
How do these trends play into the corporate learning environment? Even without a formal m-learning program in place, your employees are more than likely using their devices for work purposes. Why not take advantage and educate them with learning that is tailored to the devices they eat, sleep and work with?
It’s easy to see how m-learning conducted via smartphones and tablets can benefit those who don’t have easy access to computers—from retail environments, oil rigs, field services and beyond. But you don’t have to be a remote or retail worker to enjoy the benefits of m-learning, which:
Enables anytime, anywhere access for greater participation
Quickly reaches and teaches a wide range of workers in multiple locations
Can incorporate topics ranging from compliance to just-in-time product updates and service offerings
Seamlessly works with other learning materials
So how can you educate workers more effectively and with greater reach? These best practices are a great place to start:
1) Decide whether to app, or not to app—As with most decisions, there are pros and cons to each solution. While native apps can provide greater personalization and gamification, they are also more costly and time consuming to implement (native apps require a different version for each device—Android, iPhone, etc.). On the other hand, web-based m-learning solutions are usually cheaper to implement, faster to update and compatible with virtually all mobile devices. It really just depends on your goals, budget and timing.
2) Design for mobile first—Don’t try to cram current courses onto a much smaller screen. By designing for mobile first and implementing using responsive design you can ensure a cohesive look across multiple devices—from PCs and laptops to tablets and iPhones. Design for the user by incorporating:
Simple navigation—Keep navigation as simple as possible. If important content takes too many clicks to reach it, you’re going to lose your audience before they even begin.
Minimal scrolling—Ever get frustrated when looking at a site that isn’t optimized for mobile? How long will you fumble while scrolling with your thumb before you give up? The same is true for m-learning courses.
Highly visual content—Text-heavy pages are more difficult to read on a screen that fits into the palm of your hand. Keep text brief and scannable, and include multiple visual elements to keep m-learners engaged.
3) Keep courses short and sweet—The beauty of m-learning is that it can be done anywhere. That being said, courses are often viewed on the go, in tandem with everyday life. Keep the content short to align with our ever-shrinking attention spans and millennials’ need to multitask.
4) Don’t reinvent the wheel—If you already have high-quality materials and courses developed, you don’t need to scrap them and start over. Just take a long, hard look at how lessons could be reconfigured to benefit m-learners. It may be as simple as breaking more text-heavy slides into more scannable, bulleted points and adding visuals to support those key messages.
5) Complement other learning content and platforms—You want to ensure your m-learning courses play nicely with other content you’ve already created, whether they’re based in the classroom or on the computer screen. This is especially important when factoring in SCORM and technical standards.
6) Put feedback at the forefront—No one likes a one-sided conversation, even when watching an instructional video. Empower learners with the ability to rank courses, ask questions and comment via discussion boards and other tools. It’s best to incorporate room for assessment at the end of each module vs. at the end of a complete course, since your multitasking staff will probably watch modules sporadically instead of all at once.
7) Secure your data—Whether your employees are accessing courses on company-issued phones and tablets or implementing bring your own device (BYOD), security is a given when it comes to m-learning considerations. Here are some steps you should take to secure your company’s information:
Install network security software on devices—ensure proper security is installed on company- and BYOD-devices to protect against viruses, hacks and more. This could include anti-malware, encryption and passcodes. You should also prevent the local storage of company-related information.
Plan for lost/stolen devices—determine a clear plan of action if an employee’s device is lost or stolen. If an employee loses their iPhone at a bar over the weekend, it’s no longer their issue—it can be a severe threat to the company as well. How will you protect company information on the device?
m-learning is only going to grow in popularity, so it’s best to embrace this shift in learning technology and optimize your training content for increased participation.
Please share what’s worked and what hasn’t in regard to your m-learning efforts in the comments below.
Director of Talent Management