Many of my clients are moving into the mobile arena, recognising the inherent benefits that this brings. Mobile devices include smart phones and tablets and have stormed the marketplace over the last two years.
Whilst it’s always been clear that they would have an application in the distribution of training, it’s only now becoming clear just how significant that impact is going to be.
Mobile devices break down the differentiation between classroom and informal learning. E-learning allowed people to learn away from the classroom, but still in front of a computer. Mobile learning allows them to learn whilst they’re waiting for the train or standing in a bus queue.
All the evidence is that people are embracing the opportunities that this brings, and i’m trying to position my work at the forefront in terms of research, development and supporting systems.
The explosion of tablet devices has bought even more opportunities; first the iPad, but now a range of multi touch, first generation copycats like the Samsung Galaxy or the Dell Streak.
To give an idea of how far these devices are changing the game, look at the evidence from an ‘off the shelf’ training App that we developed in 2010.
We produced a two hour training module on Presentation Skills. Uptake on the iPhone was high, moving us to 24th place in the iTunes chart within a week of release, but then we released the iPad version. Uptake was 400% higher on this platform. Individuals have in their hands a tablet that they enjoy engaging with. It allows them to spend their time differently, be that sending emails, watching films or engaging in training.
Of course, there is more to it than just porting information onto the mobile device. These ‘first generation’ mobile solutions (either web streamed or just repackaged) are all well and good, but they don’t maximise the power of the platform. Our strongest results have come from solutions leveraged off the native functionality of the devices, coupled with a strong and evolving learning methodology. It’s no longer just enough to create a document of what you want to train; these days we need to look at how the learning will be structured, the use of pre and post course learning, assessment and evaluation methods and strategies for retaining information in a ‘just in time’ reference format once the learning is complete.
Two years ago, an mechanic needed to hold ten years of training in their heads. Today, they need access to a library of reference modules that deliver video, animations and diagnostics directly to a tablet so that they can refresh and learn on demand. Collaborative working tools and social networking environments can tie in with this. If my Land Rover breaks down, i want the mechanic to know how Land Rover would fix it, and to have access to appropriate resources. However, if i’m going to drive it across the desert, i’d like him to have access to other mechanics who have experience with sand filters and overheating. I’d like him to be able to draw on all of these official and unofficial source of information, and mobile devices are ideally placed to support this. In this context, mobile learning is more than just a distribution infrastructure, it can be an enabling technology that effects real changes in how people operate and interact, and organisations need to be aware of and maximising the opportunities that come from this.