The second screen, a term given to utilizing a second mobile device to access supplementary content or applications, is no longer a passing trend. With more than 84 percent of American tablet and smartphone owners using their devices while watching TV, second screens have shifted the TV viewing experience to become an active experience rather than passive consumption.

Encouraging viewers to interact in real-time alongside a TV show using a second screen keeps TV fans more engaged and builds social viewing communities around social media engagement and interests related to the show. Second-screen savvy networks like AMC, who used second screen applications during episodes of The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad that allowed fans to participate in social media polls, contests, and questionnaires, have driven user engagement to the point that Nielsen now scores social activity and Twitter participation alongside its traditional ratings.

Similar to how the TV industry is using the second screen to drive viewer engagement and build a fan-based community, second screens offer corporate learning and training professionals the same opportunities to support employee instruction and increase engagement. Today businesses can extend and accelerate online corporate learning programs through the support of the second screen, and create more active, community-based, and personalized training programs. Here are three benefits that the second screen provides corporate online training programs.

Active participation

Interaction is key to driving better learning outcomes, and more businesses are turning to online options to create more active training programs. In 2014, eLearning Industry reported that corporations listed online learning as the second most valuable training method that they use. As companies continue implementing online learning programs to further engage learners, second screens have the power to help these learning programs “bridge the gap between the physical and virtual audience,” sparking more two-way conversations with the presenter and participants.

For example, beauty powerhouse Avon used newrow_ for training to connect trainers face-to-face with thousands of independent sales representatives online. In addition to facilitating real-time conversations while showcasing new products through videos and presentations, the sales representatives (reps) actively commented and asked questions via text chat and quick polls.

As a result of encouraging second-screen device use into the online training program, 58 percent of Avon sales reps actively participated during the session with text chat and interactive widgets, keeping them actively engaged and focused during the session. In addition, more than 2,500 chat items were posted by the reps during the first live online learning event, which gave trainers the ability to answer questions and comments instantly.

Backchannel communities

Not only does second screen use cultivate a stronger channel of communication between the presenter and participants, it also gives learners access to more backchannel and secondary content, context, and opinions as they engage in learning among peers. For instance, learners can reference a manual or particular document referred to by the presenter, simultaneously, without toggling between pages.

In utilizing these resources, learners, much like TV viewers who join chat rooms to discuss the latest episodes, will find common learning interests among each other. Based on mutual interest or general experience in a subject, these “communities” are valuable training assets to companies that can tap them to provide peer-to-peer learning sessions and career development in more focused areas.

Personalized training

Using a second screen to find preferred training resources and various collaborative learning groups, training becomes more personal and unique for each employee, giving them the ability to create their own learning path.

Unintentionally, second screen use drives personalized learning. For example, Event Tech Brief equates this phenomenon with the simple act of looking up a definition during a presentation or reading presentation materials. Learners who are unfamiliar with a term during training can click the word in a presentation or flag the term for later research through a second screen device during training, allowing participants access to more granular knowledge on particular subjects of interest. For data-heavy training sessions, participants can view links to detailed studies and graphs on a second screen by clicking a link or flagging a topic within the presentation, allowing them to go back to a particular subject on their own time.

For more intentional personalized training, second-screen use provides trainers with a digital blueprint for reviewing an employee’s mastery of concepts. Using an online learning platform’s performance and activity analytics, trainers can also gauge whether the content delivery meets an individual’s needs based on outcomes or assessments.

Additionally, training administrators can use analytics of second-screen engagement to see what training sessions garner the most interest, participation, and attendance. Based on this information, training administrators could set up breakout sessions or invite guest speakers to talk more about subjects drawing the most interest.

Thanks to shows like The Walking Dead, we’ve seen social TV power the use of the second screen to prevent viewers from becoming zoned-out zombies. Instead, the second screen has fueled fan interaction and brand loyalty by making TV viewers active participants throughout the show. Today, the power of the second screen proves valuable outside of social TV as businesses begin to reap the same benefits. By incorporating interactive elements into teaching programs, trainers will effectively drive greater learner engagement while addressing the same tune-out challenge that networks once faced.

(Editor’s Note: Readers may be interested in “The Second-screen Experience: Designing a Paperless Classroom,” Session 203 on Wednesday, March 25 at the Learning Solutions Conference & Expo in Orlando, presented by Andrew Vecchiarelli, instructional designer at BMO Financial Group.)