With 64 percent of American adults owning a smartphone and 42 percent owning a tablet, Americans are learning a great deal on their mobile devices. They’re solving the mystery of the gold/white or blue/black dress, they’re getting inspired to dress their pets in pajamas after watching the baby goat-dancing video on YouTube, and they’re assessing their knowledge of all things “Mad Men.”
But how much professional learning is going on that it valuable to their jobs, meaningful for their companies, and helpful to their customers? Not as much as you might think, but it is growing according to a study conducted by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity.
Of the more than 400 learning and business professionals surveyed, only 34 percent of organizations have mobile learning programs in place. That’s almost double the amount reported in 2010, but not the higher figures as one might expect.
Sales Is An Easy Sell
Leveraging on-the-go technology for employees who are often out of the office is a no-brainer for many companies when starting mobile learning programs.
Joe Beaudry, manager – new technology for Verizon Wireless, sees the benefits of equipping the sales force and field technicians with learning tools at their fingertips.
Mobile learning can be especially helpful if a sales associate is “at a customer’s location and needs a quick refresher on something they’re about to go in and pitch to this client … or maybe they need to pull up some quick reference guide on whatever they’re working on. That’s what mobile learning is about – making it available,” Beaudry said.
No One-Size-Fits All
Making it available, however, isn’t as easy as some might think – especially true for those holding the budget purse strings.
“Some people have a real ambition to take their training courses from desktop and put all of it on mobile devices,” said Dr. Pooja Jaisingh, senior learning evangelist for Adobe Systems. “They just want it to play as is without making any changes and modifications. I think that’s the biggest mistake.”
Relying on a laptop for on-the-go content isn’t always ideal either, says Beaudry, especially in front of customers
“It’s not really practical to pull out a laptop, open it up, turn it on, get connected to your VPN, and then to your corporate network. With the tablet or an iPhone or an Android phone, you just pull it out, open the app, and you’ve got your content right there in a matter of seconds,” Beaudry said.
To get started on the right foot when going mobile, Jaisingh encourages learning leaders to think about instructional design in a new way.
“I think they need to learn more about mobile instructional design. Try and create courses [that are] bite-sized learning and small. They [should] use the capabilities of the devices.”
Not Either/Or But Both/And
With mobile learning growing, should classroom trainers and instructional designers be worried about job security? Jaisingh and Beaudry say no.
“I would say not to ‘think mobile first,’ because we cannot ignore desktops,” Jaisingh said. “I would say ‘go responsive’ where you can create a course, which is a single course available on desktop, on tablets, and on mobile [phones]. You have a different treatment for each type of device.”
“The stand-up trainer can really take advantage of mobile devices,” Beaudry said. “It’s just like eLearning. That wasn’t the death of classrooms, so it’s the same thing with this. I think it’s just another way to get content in front of employees and get them engaged.”
- Joe Beaudry, Manager – New Technology, Verizon Wireless
- JDr. Pooja Jaisingh, Senior Learning Evangelist, Adobe Systems
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