Training programs have evolved with the times, with technology allowing leaders to abolish the seminars that drained their budgets without inspiring retention and add more self-guided courses. However, even the PC-based version of eLearning now seems outdated, with the PC being rethought as just one device among many instead of the focal point of an employee's day.
Workers today can stay connected to vital data when they are on the go via their tablets and smartphones, and there are ways to exploit this capability to keep them within arm's reach of important learning technology at all times. Understanding this new frontier of professional development and investing in the programs and technology to make it function could work wonders for enterprise leaders in search of more capable training solutions.
"A mobile course is a chance to really connect with a learner."
The nature of mobile learning
Of course, before delving into eLearning solutions accessible through mobile devices, decision-makers will have to think hard about what the format entails. There are different priorities at play when the main consumption channel for a training module is tablets or smartphones.
A recent Association for Talent Development overview explained the basics, showing what is possible when companies expand their thinking to take in a whole device landscape. The sheer variety of devices available, each with their own software and hardware configurations, means any project designed to bring mobile into the fold will have to be flexible.
The source pointed out that when creating for a mobile workforce, developers should ensure their content can scroll, parceling out items from the course to be flipped through on a small screen. This opens up new possibilities for compelling and engaging interface design. A one-for-one translation of desktop materials may be weak on smartphones, so there is an impetus to seek out designs that work in mobile space, allowing users to employ their phones in natural-feeling ways. These devices are always with employees today, so a course that fits into the mobile app ecosystem is a chance to really connect with a learner.
The news provider highlighted the fact that there is not just one form of mobile content. Some organizations are interested in purpose-built apps while others want a course that will be basically the same as on a PC but better suited to the small interface. ATD did highlight one thing that mobile eLearning should not be: the exact same experience as a desktop course "squeezed down" to fit a smartphone screen. That approach, the source opined, is not engaging.
Why is mobile learning finally ready for the spotlight? ITBusiness.ca contributor Roz Bahrami explained a confluence of factors has created interest in this format. With mobile devices growing larger and the Internet connections needed to deliver content becoming stronger, there is simply an infrastructure for the courses now. The author also noted the public is taking advantage of the previous two factors en masse, with 70 percent now browsing online through a smartphone and tablet. By 2017, he stated, the figure will be 90 percent. This means there is reason for optimism that mobile content will be a key part of eLearning strategies.