5 Things L&D Should Consider Before Embracing M-Learning

By Saurabh Pangarkar

Mobility has been the buzzword for the past couple of years. Several organizations, big or small, have been busy identifying the perfect solution to quickly meet their audience’s learning needs on the go. “Do you need a mobile solution” is no more a relevant question today. A more apt question would be – what do I need to know before I implement mobility as part of my company’s learning solution?

We have compiled a list of top 5 components you should consider before planning to implement one or many such solutions. Before we jump any further, please review the below infographic compiled by Exult from several sources.


 

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Let’s jump into the core topic of discussion.

  1. Does your IT Infrastructure support Mobility?
    Your computer network is generally secured and configured to access your applications based on your business domain and needs. It is critical to assess the implications of allowing mobile devices access to your network. Your IT team will most likely intervene to tell you what is allowed and what is not, but a due consideration towards what level of IT infrastructure support is available will go a long way in avoiding any “Access Denied” messages your learners will receive on their tablet devices. Mobile device management (MDM) is an industry term for the administration of mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. MDM is usually implemented with the use of a third party product that has management features for particular vendors of mobile devices. You can check with your IT team if your organization has already invested in any MDM solutions.
  2. What devices will your learners use to access content? Who will bring the devices?
    The decision on what variations existed in the traditional laptop-desktop environment was relatively easier to figure out. You would mostly likely use the same Operating System and would have similar Technical Specifications as others in your organization. With mobility on the rise, this question is not as easy to answer as earlier. Apart from the several options in the device make, you also have things like Operating Systems, Device Resolution and versions of their framework to deal with. Additionally, some systems have minor variations in their operational structure yet substantial differences in the way content works on these devices. You will be surprised by how each device, even of the same make, renders content differently across versions. You also need to assess who brings the device. With the BYOD aka Bring Your Own Device philosophy becoming synonymous in the corporate sector you may not require investing in buying mobile devices on behalf of your organization. But it will be important to plan for the right delivery infrastructure should you leverage some of these approaches.
  3. Should every piece of content designed for mobile access?
    As mobility, not just in L&D, but in all sectors is set to rise year on year you may be tempted to create every learning component mobile-ready. But wait a minute! Is it right to enable access for every learning object? Will mobility serve the learning purpose? Have you considered the confidentiality aspects of your content? Your learners will travel outside the four walls of your office. It is important to understand what content should be/can be accessed outside office premises. What if your learners lose their device? Though it is possible to clear the content of the device with remote access, your IT team needs to ensure this can been done and will be managed in case of an unexpected loss of a device. These are some of the many questions you will need to assess before making a decision on what content goes mobile. 
  4. Will you track the learner’s performance for the courses he/she accesses on the go?
    You should probably consider all requirements before deciding whether you are going to track the learners’ performance on your LMS when they access the content on the go. In fact, the very first question would be, should they have access to the LMS even when they are not in office? Are there any special technology constraints/considerations with regards to your LMS that you would need to think of? There are several tools and environments that allow learners to download a content package for offline use. After the learner has completed the training, he/she can go back into the office network and have their course progress reports synchronized with their LMS. There are several options available, but you need to ensure you have thought through these situations and your vendor-partners have a solution that meets your needs. 
  5. The choice of authoring tools and the future?
    This is one of my favorite topics as we look up to the future of mobility in corporate L&D. As on time of this writing there are over 35 authoring tools that can produce HTML5 and other mobile-ready learning objects. The question is – can they scale with you as your organization embraces to leverage mobility in 2015 and the years forward? Since we are still in early days – at least in corporate L&D – it may take at least a couple of years until the content development strategy gets established. Nonetheless, it is still critical to assess the future of some of the tools that will be used now and whether they will exist two or more years from now. The even more important question to ask is, will your users have the same user experience from your mobile-ready courses that they had on desktops on all these years? We will address this aspect in another article shortly. In the meanwhile, it is important to know that your mobile solution remains in action as technology advances.

We hope these important considerations allow you to make an informed decision on your L&D’s mobility strategy. Mobility is not just a need of the hour, but also your approach to ensure you have empowered employees in this Knowledge Economy.

Thanks for taking the time to review this post. Wish you a successful 2015 ahead.

Infographic resources:

http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Smartphone-Users-Worldwide-Will-Total-175-Billion-2014/1010536/

http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users/

http://www.vmware.compdf/Forrester2013-MobileWorkforceAdoptionTrendsFeb.pdf

http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2466615

Gartner report: Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future

Ambient insight’s report: 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market

 

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