It’s time to think deeply about mobile-learning strategy. After all, mLearning is the buzzword of the moment. A lot of discussion in the eLearning industry has focused on the importance of developing learning content for mobile. This includes factors like HTML5 and responsive web design. Other discussions have centered on the emerging trend of “Bring Your Own Device,” aka BYOD, and what the ramifications of that are. These are important topics that you need to address as you get ready to launch an mLearning initiative.
When choosing an authoring tool, you certainly want to be sure that it can help you develop great-looking eLearning that functions on a variety of devices—thank you, BYOD, for that particular prerequisite. So yes, make sure your authoring tool checks off all the important boxes, HTML5 support and accessibility chief among them. Also, talk to your IT department to determine if a BYOD policy is right for your organization. If you don’t go the BYOD route, make sure to draft a mobile-usage policy outlining how employees can use company-provided devices. Companies with mobility policies have 16-percent higher workflow efficiency, 12-percent higher workforce flexibility, and 8-percent higher profitability, according to a 2011 report by Strategy Analytics.
But after you do all that, will you be ready to deploy mLearning?
There’s another factor you need to consider—what tools are you going to use to deliver the mLearning you’ve been so carefully crafting and planning?
One concern about BYOD is security. Organizations are wary of letting employees access confidential information on their personal devices, but a solution is to choose a secure mLearning deployment platform that you trust. Most LMS vendors with mobile capabilities have apps with single sign-on (SSO) to integrate with your organization’s authentication technology. Some LMS vendors offer settings to prevent the download of external resources if you need to make sure your users aren’t downloading malware.
Five tips for deploying mobile learning:
- Select a good mLearning app.
Mobile devices keep us connected everywhere through apps like Facebook, email, and texting. But apps can also help us learn. When developing mobile learning, you need to decide whether to use a native app or a web app. One of the benefits of using a native mobile learning app is that your users can access learning materials whether they are connected to the internet or not. With a native app, the learning content is downloaded and stored on the user’s device. This is not the case with a web app, which has to re-download course information every time it is run and requires an internet or data connection to function.
- Use mLearning to provide performance support.
Performance support should supplement formal training instruction. You can think of performance support as more of an application of learned knowledge, or a reference for employees to rely on. Making these resources available via mobile access helps your employees get to them at the time of need.
- Track your learners’ activities with SCORM.
If your mobile learning tool is SCORM-compliant, you can track your learners’ activities to see which types of performance support are the most popular and useful. This feedback is helpful for efficiency when designing future performance support materials.
- Plan for distractions.
Mobile users are easily distracted. They might get a text, an email, or a Twitter notification and leave your app “just to see if it’s important” and then completely forget about the online training content they were looking at previously. They might even decide to finish that content later on another device, like a tablet instead of their smartphone. Be prepared for this. Make sure that their learning progress is saved in the app or sent back to synch with your LMS.
- Be inspired by other companies.
The International Red Cross used mobile performance support for first aid training. According to The eLearning Guild, “a mobile app has the potential to not only reach more people but perhaps, even more importantly, provide essential knowledge at the very moment it is needed most.” Think about it … the Red Cross is using mobile learning to save lives! What could you be doing with mobile learning?
There’s a reason mLearning is the buzzword of the moment—it can be extremely powerful when you take the time to carefully plan and deploy it. Get your mobile strategy ready now, so you’re prepared when it’s time to launch your first mLearning initiative.