Embrace the Power of Mobile E-Learning Now
You might see the trends and think it seems easy enough to tell users to start training from a smartphone or tablet. It would be great if it were that simple. However, there are a lot of challenges to overcome when supporting mobile learning.
As the popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs increases and the Millennial generation continues flooding the workforce, the need for mobile-friendly training is at an all-time high. In fact, in an article from Business 2 Community, Tom Pick noted in 2013 that there were more than "143 million smartphones in use in the U.S., and 71 million tablets." In another recent article, "The Top Trends in Mobile Learning for 2014" from elearningindustry.com, it was reported that 66% of surveyed office workers expect to be allowed to use any device at work.
Furthermore, as reported by Chris Komisarjevsky of the Huffington Post, "Millennials are fast becoming the largest group of employees at companies large and small." Komisarjevsky reminds us, "these adults have grown up in the digital era.... It defines them and they, in turn, have significant influence on those around them, whether from home, the workplace or the treadmill." It is undeniable employees expect to be able to work from a tablet or smartphone, so why should training be any different?
How to Overcome the Challenges
Now, you might see the trends and think it seems easy enough to tell users to start training from a smartphone or tablet. It would be great if it were that simple. However, there are a lot of challenges to overcome when supporting mobile learning.
There are so many types of phones and tablets, all with differing features and functions. These devices have different browsers, operating systems, screen sizes, and features, making it difficult to create a single course a user can play everywhere. Don't forget that "everywhere" still must include desktop computers. It is important to avoid having separate mobile and desktop versions of a course, and you don't want to break the desktop version while making it mobile-enabled.
One of the first things you want to look for in e-learning is whether or not the course requires Adobe Flash. This is key, because Adobe Flash is no longer supported on any mobile device, and unfortunately, the majority of e-learning courses currently on the market require Flash.
Those developing e-learning need to meet the demands of ever-changing technology by ensuring courses are not dependent on one particular device, and instead are creating courseware that works across all devices. When you offer a BYOD program, your users will bring whatever device they prefer, and it may be an Android, iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Kindle, or Chromebook. So, as a best practice, you should support all smartphone and tablet platforms and both Windows and Apple desktops.
Up until now, there hasn't been an e-learning publisher or Training Content Network (TCN) with courseware supported on all devices. Recently, Mastery Technologies, the first TCN, announced a library of more than 700 video-based, mobile-enable training courses. The switch to a mobile-enabled platform allows employees the ultimate convenience in completing training assignments whenever and wherever they please. Mastery's e-learning courses let users start training on one device and continue on another.
For example, a truck driver could start a training course at the desktop computer in the designated training room and then finish it on his smartphone while taking a break at a rest stop en route. Or, a manager could start training from her tablet while waiting for a flight and finish it on her laptop when she returns home.
Will My Employees Like it?
Talent Development (td magazine), from the Association for Talent Development, reported in its August 2014 issue that 79% of employees count the ability to connect to work remotely outside of business hours as a positive. Despite what you might think, employees perceive this type of access as a benefit, not a disturbance to their home life. For many employees, access to work from home means they can give up some of their late nights stuck at the office.
The use of mobile in general is on the rise, demonstrating a demand for everything on the web to be mobile-friendly. Mastery has noticed a dramatic increase in traffic to its website over the last three years; visitors to the website from a mobile device have increased from 3% in 2011 to over 18% in 2014.
Mastery has had many customers report their employees like the convenience of being able to fit training into their schedules, including taking it from home. One of the benefits of online training is the flexibility of not having to gather all your employees at a particular time for a classroom session. Mobile-enabled training takes that one step further; employees are no longer chained to a desk to complete assignments.
How Will My Organization Benefit?
One of the barriers to getting high completion rates of training for classroom-based learning is the inconvenience it poses to an individual's schedule. You also have to deal with scheduling sessions every time you hire a new employee or, worse, having a new employee go months without training before the next scheduled class. Online training, and furthermore mobile online training, breaks down those barriers and puts the power to increase competency, productivity, and efficiency in the hands of your employee.
Employers see major reductions in training costs if they find the right approach for licensing to fit their needs. Overall online training compared to traditional classroom training offers huge savings to organizations. However, in the realm of online training, there are ways to keep your spending down even more.
Recently, Mastery recognized a flaw in many subscription offerings. Many organizations start out with a lot of "one-time" training requirements, and even after those requirements are met, they still want to have a large library of resources available to all employees. This often leads to paying for a subscription for all their employees that doesn't get fully utilized. Mastery's solution was to create the FlexSeat™ Subscription, which allows you to give your entire organization access to a large library of content and only pay subscription fees based on the number of course plays you will use, not the number of people in your organization.
Solutions such as Mastery's FlexSeat™ Subscription allow organizations to train all their employees on "one-time" training requirements, train new employees, provide refresher training to veteran employees, and provide continuing education to the entire workforce. These solutions are budget-friendly; since you can meet safety compliance requirements and human resources requirements, the cost can end up being split among departments instead of draining one area's budget.
Embrace Mobile Learning
Employees appreciate the convenience of being able to use any device and the opportunity to develop new skills and deepen their knowledge. As an employer, you will appreciate the budget-friendly cost and ultimately a more competent and productive organization. As the use of mobile technology in our everyday lives continues to accelerate, now is the time to begin embracing it and benefiting from it.
For more information on using mobile e-learning at your organization, sign up for one of our free webinars here.