In the recent past, ‘mobile’ has been the go-to option for almost everything we know. Whether it is hunting for some pertinent information/answers (bless Google!), shopping online, staying connected all the time, conducting monetary transactions and doing almost anything under the sun, it has been ‘mobile’ all the way.
Just as everything has been impacted by mobile, learning is no exception. Mobile Learning aka mLearning debuted in the early 2000s and stayed on in the eLearning space. The reasons are apparent. Besides the more complicated ones, the primary one is that we all use smartphones and other mobile devices extensively during our day (and night too!). So, using them for learning as well is a logical extension.
Also, the number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019 (source: statista), which means mLearning has more scope now than ever. To cut a long story short, there is no way you can escape mLearning in 2018 or anytime soon.
Of course, it’s not enough to simply decide that you want to introduce mLearning in your organization. Devising a proper strategy that involves a thorough thinking on why you want it, who you want it for and how you would go about it is the most essential aspect of the whole exercise. Note: We will be focussing only on the ‘platform/delivery’ component of the strategy making in this blog post.
Here are five steps for planning a strong mobile strategy:
1. Establish the Business Need for mLearning
Although mLearning is a sterling option to enhance the learning experience in a workplace, there is still a need for properly setting up the idea of why exactly you want to deploy it in your company. To actually understand whether the solution works for you, you need to have a clear know-how of the objective behind using mLearning. MLearning works the best in the following scenarios:
a. Providing Performance support: Your company has organized training sessions and employees have responded well to them. But what about the time after the training if they need support? What about when they have some queries while they are on-the-job? This is where the idea of Performance Support Tools to help employees with on-the-job support at the “precise moment” comes in. mLearning works for this because it can provide continuous training support even after training sessions are over or while the employee is in the middle of a tricky professional situation at work. Plus there’s no doubt that Performance Support and mLearning are a great combo!
b. Catering to the Gig Economy and a Mobile Workforce: The global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people or 42.5% of the total workforce in 2022 (source: Strategy Analytics Report). People are leveraging the option of working from the convenience of their own homes, coffee shops or any other place that suits them. The gig economy, in particular, has seen a growth rapid growth in the past decade or more. From 9.3% in 1995 it has grown to 15.8% by 2015. We are now in 2018 which means this section may have surged up even more in number. mLearning is a solution almost tailor-made for this kind of workforce. It provides them the flexibility of taking training sessions from their own place of work/ leisure, at a time that’s convenient to them, while keeping them updated.
c. Providing Offline Support: A report from Akamai on State of the Internet shows that internet users in many countries, including India, suffer from disappointingly slow internet connections. When connections are poor or fluctuating, employees are bound to lose valuable training time. mLearning helps here with its Offline support feature where learners can download the training material on their mobile device’s local storage. They can then view this even when there is poor or no internet connectivity or at their own convenience. In fact, a Mobile LMS is one of the best solutions for Offline support. Here’s why.
d. Extending Delivery Capabilities on Mobile Devices: While having a user-friendly desktop/laptop-focused learning delivery platform is key to the success of any L&D intervention, today’s multi-device, mobile-first world demands for the same to be available ‘seamlessly’ on mobile devices too. This is where a Responsive LMS (here are 9 reasons to invest in a Responsive LMS) or LMS Mobile App comes in play as it is also essential to deliver a consistent user experience on mobile devices too. You have to see how to provide complete flexibility in accessing training whenever needed, wherever needed and whichever mobile devices are being used by employees.
2. Evaluate your Audience
This is the next important step because without knowing who your target demographic is, designing a strategy would be difficult. Understanding the audience, their requirements, necessity and urgency for training, and work environment helps.
Step 1 here is to understand how often your target audiences use their mobile devices and if they are ready to access learning content on them.
Step 2 is to analyze if they have the requisite bandwidth to access the mobile learning content. This depends on what location they will be accessing the content from, how the connectivity there is and what kind of learning material will be suitable for the situation.
3. Understand the Devices and Platforms being used
The whole premise of mLearning is strongly related to the kind of devices that are being used among your employees. There is such an eclectic range of mobile devices these days — from smartphones to tablets to phablets and much more. Then there are the operating systems too -iOS, Android, and the likes. There is no point in designing a mobile strategy for tablets when a majority of your employees are using smartphones. This might cause problems in viewing the text, images, or even downloading them.
Then, of course, there’s the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement that is to be considered. The BYOD market is predicted to reach nearly $367 billion by 2022, up from just $30 billion in 2014 (Source: Global Market Insights, Inc.). This movement is bound to pick more ground since a Cisco report even points out that companies with a BYOD policy in place save on average $350 per year, per employee.
Based on the compatibility to the above, the Mobile LMS selection can made.
4. Choose proper Delivery/ Development Models
When talking about mLearning, the delivery platform is the cornerstone to the success of your learning/training initiative. Below are the two key areas to be considered for the delivery/ development approach:
1. Responsive design: A Responsive LMS allows users to access learning on any device of their choice ensuring the best viewing depending upon the screen size and layout elements of the device. It makes the training almost agnostic to the device type, the platform or the browser choice.
2. App-based approach: While the Responsive design is a great way to ‘mobilize’ the training, sometimes a true ‘mobile-first’ platform can be achieved by investing in an app-based LMS. This approach makes the best use of the various affordances of the mobile device itself and provides a rich user experience and efficiency.
The decision on whether you want Responsive design or App-based approach depends on the needs of your business and those of your employees.
5. Consider the Security Issue
The BYOD movement is superlative considering the increase in the number of digital-savvy employees who have a growing demand for information at their fingertips. But BYOD also brings with it a big challenge for companies: that of security. When so many employees use their own devices in the workplace and carry the same devices out of the office, there may be serious security issues to think of. Internal information could sometimes be sensitive and data protection could be a concern. How you deal with this security-related situation needs considerable thought.
Deploying mLearning in your organization is, perhaps, one of the most important decisions as it has multiple paybacks from your talent development and business benefit perspective. So, before you consider mLearning as a part of your organizational L&D, ensure that you have given the whole delivery strategy a comprehensive look.
Looking for the best way to deliver Mobile Learning? Contact us to know how we can help you with a Responsive LMS, an Online LMS App or an Offline mLearning platform.
Amit has played a key role in bringing an innovative approach to the traditional Learning Management System (LMS) and has been instrumental in putting UpsideLMS on the global map.With over two decades of work
experience across IT and eLearning, Amit has a wealth of knowledge and hands-on experience in start-up management, project management, technology solutions consulting, and technology solutions architecting and development. At UpsideLMS too, Amit continues to wear multiple hats as the key idea generator for UpsideLMS' tech-ops team, a Sales and Marketing orchestrator, a learning technology solutions consultant for his clients and prospects, a sounding board of ideas for his team of experts and a mentor for all the function heads. All product offerings birthed and led by Amit, be it the Learning Management System or the Mobile Learning Apps, have been disruptors in the eLearning industry and ahead of their times.
Amit is an active contributor to the company's blog and many eLearning forums. He has been profiled by Learning Solutions, a leading industry publication and the official online publication of the eLearning Guild, for its 'Leaders in the Limelight' series. He distils his expertise and experience into articles, which are regularly published in leading L&D and HR publications across the world.
Amit has spoken at various L&D events in the US, has co-hosted webinars alongside leading industry experts and has authored eBooks on Learning Management Systems. He has served as a judge for the Brandon Hall awards in 2002 and 2004. Amit holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science (NIT–Kurukshetra) and a Masters in Business Administration (IIM – Lucknow).
Connect with him on LinkedIn.