It’s Time to Move All Your Training to Mobile Devices . . . Or Is It?

SMARTPHONEEverything is going mobile . . . shouldn’t you??!!!!

Maybe you have thick old training manuals that you’d like to convert for delivery on mobile devices. Or how about those old lessons that you’ve been delivering on computer terminals in your company’s training room? Isn’t it time to adapt them for delivery on your trainees’ smartphones?

Due to its scalability and effectiveness, eLearning is becoming the go-to method for delivering knowledge to a large work force. But before you decide to go mobile, back up a second. Yes, it’s true that over 77% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone and usage is even higher here in the U.S. But should you really rush to mobile? Here are some issues to consider.

Who is paying for your employees’ mobile phones?

If most of your trainees already have smartphones that they are paying for on their own, that is one thing. If you are going to have to supply 1,000 or 10,000 of them with smartphones or pay for their plans, that is another matter entirely.

Are there connectivity issues in your locations?

This is another question that some companies overlook as they rush to mobile. What, for example, is the state of Wi-Fi connectivity in all your work locations, stores, etc.? If it’s not already there, what will be cost of setting it up across all your locations? If your trainees will be accessing your materials while they are not at work, can you expect them to shoulder the usage costs?

Does the type of material you have make sense for a mobile-sized screen?

eLearning takes so many forms . . . there are the overly prevalent “PowerPoints on steroids,” which are recorded live training events that actually tend to have little impact when delivered on mobile devices. Then you have interactive eLearning that is enriched with practice tools, gamification, knowledge checks and visual and audio stimulation. Although those can work well, especially when delivered in short lessons, they are often not so good for the mobile space because of the screen size. It’s sometimes hard for trainees to find that little button. Plus, native browsers for mobile devices can act a little differently from the way they do on a PC. So the bottom line is, you can’t just migrate what you have onto a mobile platform and expect everything to work well. You need to consider the obstacles and the cost of overcoming them.

Do your employees in the field have mobile-enabled tablet devices?

Many companies are discovering that mobile training works best when delivered on tablets, not smartphones. But they are also finding that few employees use tablets that are part of their mobile plans.

What Kind of Mobile Training Works Best?

So what’s mobile really good for? In our training industry, it is best for what we call performance support, which means training that is delivered to employees after they’ve gone through a larger and more detailed learning interaction.

Performance support is like a reminder. You know that sign in your company bathroom that reminds employees to wash their hands before returning to work? That’s an example of performance support, which can also be defined as essential, bite-size pieces of information that you deliver where and when they can affect employee performance. I’m talking about content like this:

  • Overviews of product features and use
  • A review of how to handle a customer-facing process or procedure
  • Quick instructions on how to fill out a form that documents a service call or a sale
  • Simple videos on cleaning, troubleshooting or performing preventative maintenance

The bottom line is that mobile training should be short, sweet and to the point. Think about YouTube, the largest training resource on the planet. If people don’t know how to do something, they find it on YouTube! Think that same way for your employees. The idea is to provide information that reminds them how to handle a process or procedure – info that they can access where and when they need it.

Mobile Is Great . . .

Yes, it is great, but it’s not great for EVERYTHING. Used properly, mobile can be a powerful tool in your organization’s arsenal if you use it in combination with the full suite of technology that’s available to you.

Dan Black

Dan Black is the Chief Learning Strategist at Tortal Training. Dan specializes in GSD – “getting stuff done” and is recognized in the industry as a “pleasantly disruptive force” that challenges conventional thinking on training and talent development. Contact Dan at danblack@tortal.net