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First Steps to Implementing a Mobile Learning Program

As a Learning & Development leader, there’s a good chance you’ve come up against employees’ lack of interest in training and development.

Employee expectations and desires are changing, and there are new ways to engage them.  If you’re still not using mobile learning or using it in a small way in the workplace, it is a missed opportunity to boost employee engagement


 

We use phones and tablets for so many functions each day; it only makes sense to incorporate them into our training strategy, don't you think?

Because mobile technology is already incorporated into our lives, it will become a natural extension of everything else we do versus being seen as an inconvenience the way other training can be.

So, how do we get started with implementing mobile learning in the company?

Let's start with some useful tips:

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Being with a Plan

So, you’ve decided to start a mobile learning program? Reading up on material such as this to get an idea of where to start is already a step in the right direction. All too often, someone will decide to take things mobile without considering exactly WHY and HOW are you implementing it, which means it never really gets off the ground.

At this stage, your company needs to look at their needs and existing training to figure out what value mobile learning can add to the system.

Things to question as you make your plan:

  • How will the mobile learning program help us reach our business goals?
  • What will we use to measure success?
  • How will the program be sustained? Successful mobile learning programs should have established processes that can be replicated and scaled later on.
  • How can we give stakeholders a voice in the project? For the stakeholders, this means at this stage; you will need to speak with instructors, managers of each department, and any others who can contribute. Ask them for their opinions and give them a chance to question and challenge the plan.

Also read: Embracing a Mobile Mindset for Learning and Development

Figure Out the Role of Mobile Learning in Your Training Strategy

While you can use mobile as a replacement for eLearning or face-to-face sessions, mobile is not necessarily a strategy on its own, and should be incorporated as part of a larger plan. Generally, your mobile program should work alongside other methods instead of replacing eLearning and classroom learning.  

By incorporating another method of learning, you make your training program more robust and well-rounded, adding more to the total career of your learners.

So, you'll need to think about how does mobile fits into the employee’s learning cycle in your company. Look at what functions mobile devices will fill throughout the training and beyond. You will also need to consider things like screen size which is much smaller on mobile devices and how you can structure your course to work with this, depending on the user's context.

Also read: Road Map to Success: Mobile Learning Essentials

Have a Clear Purpose

It's an easy question. “What do you want to accomplish with a Mobile Learning Program?”

Yet, answering isn't that simple. 

Don’t just start a mobile learning program to be in with the cool kids. You have first to figure out if mobile can solve any specific problems and what you hope to accomplish with it. Define your business need in detail and how mobile will help address this need.

Note: “Convenience,” “Because everyone else is doing it” and “it’ll look cool” are not good enough reasons. Instead, you have to analyze critically to define your goals and the changes you hope you to make for your learners.  

When done well, m-learning helps instructors and learners to communicate, spark interest, allow for the convenience of round-the-clock learning and become a vital part of what helps learners to reach their goals.

Deciding on Top Priority: At this point, you should also ask what your top priority is. This can be one of the several things, including:

  • Long-term information retention
  • A tool or guide learners can refer to
  • A simple way of delivering/receiving information (i.e. forms that must be filled out without information retention.) 

Recommended read: Four Ways to Create an Effective mLearning Strategy

Transform, Don't Just Transfer

After you’ve picked a subject that will work well with a mobile format, it’s time to start designing a course around. Mobile Learning is NOT just scaling down an existing eLearning course. Doing otherwise rarely has good results. One of the biggest differences newbies make is that your mobile courses require smaller chunks of information and some consideration for smaller screen size. 

Think of how mobile learning will actually be consumed and how your learners will work it into their lives. Adopt a mobile mindset instead of trying to mold it into an old form. However, you can still incorporate and develop content from existing learning resources. It just has to be reworked to fit with your mobile learning program.

Ideally, your mobile course should:

  • Be responsive
  • Simple: Have one idea/topic per screen
  • Short: Have modules that take less than 10 minutes
  • Formatted to load faster, i.e. no excessive graphics or videos
  • Easy navigation: Have easy navigation like large buttons and obvious directions of what should be done next

Similarly, the volume should also be easy to control with an easy to see “mute” button. Subtitles are also a very good idea.

So, remember, you can use and repurpose content from your existing eLearning courses, but this information absolutely must be formatted and designed to fit with a mobile device. This means, not just shrinking down a page, but taking information and breaking it down to fit onto a smaller screen.

Also read: 5 Essential Mobile Learning Design Rules You Should Be Following

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Consider Top Priorities for Mobile: Just Because it Can Go Mobile, Doesn't Mean it Should

Along with not transferring, you also need to have a discerning eye on what should be converted to mobile. This takes some time as you look through current course offerings and decide what your learners will need first. Keep a list detailing your next phase of converting as well to save time later.

Just because an older eLearning program can run on a mobile screen, doesn’t mean it should. Even when these programs can run, they often don’t look right, and visuals are too important of a factor to allow this. 

Sarah Gilbert president of meLearning Solutions says: “Consider that the mobile format is really intended for quick, accessible information to help an individual perform a task. It isn’t ideal to turn lengthy, traditional eLearning modules into mobile courses.”

Read more in this article: Four Questions to Ask Before Creating Mobile eLearning

To further bring home the idea that you must consider how your mobile screen differs from a computer-based course, think about how your learners are likely to engage with mLearning. mLearning is likely to be done in short burst while a person is on the go. For example, while on business in a hotel, during a few minutes delay as they wait for a meeting to start, or during a commute.

Assess and Develop Content

As content is converted, you should begin to assess its impact. This will help you determine what should be done next, what’s working, and what isn’t. When doing this for a corporation, this would mean starting with one or more departments before expanding it out to the rest of the company.  

Read more in this guide: How Do We Measure Effectiveness In Mobile Learning Environments?

Take Stock of Current Materials & Tech

Available Content and Media: If you have available content like videos, images and podcasts, use them! While you shouldn’t use everything word for word, there’s also no need to rewrite things if they already exist and are high quality. Once you’ve evaluated it and determined what’s working, adjust it for mobile use and you’re good to go.

Software and Technology: Look at existing tech and determine if it will support your mobile learning. If it can’t, consider what is still needed. This includes infrastructure items like fast internet connection, cloud services, 3G/4G coverage and outlets to plug in devices to charge.

Learning Management System: Social learning in mobile courses is great, but you have to make sure your LMS can handle it. If it can’t, consider using sharing tools like Slack or LinkedIn. 

Other tech considerations:   

Operating system that is supported (Apple, Android…)

Average screen size

Average bandwidth

Data plan limitations

Create an Engaging Environment

Creating mobile-enabled training that is engaging and actually makes an impact in the company is indeed challenging.  But, to ensure maximum user experience, test out the different device, platform, and browser combinations to ensure you’re delivering the same message and quality across all of them. Make sure each delivers an engaging, interactive experience. 

Always ask yourself: Would I take this mobile learning course? 

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 SOURCES:

14 Tips for Great Mobile Learning at Your Company 

Mobile learning in the workplace, Towards Maturity

 

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