Training on Smartphones: Six Critical Questions to Ask Before You Begin


SMARTPHONEYou look around your company one day and notice that most of your employees seem to be glued to their smartphones. When they’re not working, they’re shopping, accessing social media, texting with friends, watching videos, reading the news . . . you name it. Your eyes aren’t fooling you. According to the best statistics we have been able to find, in some companies more than 80% of employees have smartphones.

Another Set of Statistics to Think About

With all those smartphone users all around your company, it only makes sense to jump right in and start delivering your training to mobile devices, right? Well maybe yes, maybe no.

If you spend some time reading “U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015,” a far-ranging new report about smartphone usage from the Pew Research Center, you’ll find some statistics that are a little troubling. Although smartphone use has increased dramatically (in 2011, only 35% of adult Americans owned them; today, 64% do), 48% of “smartphone-dependent” Americans have experienced service interruptions because they were unable to keep up with their payments. And who are the most “smartphone-dependent” Americans? According to the Pew research, many of them are younger Americans – possibly the same group of people you are trying to reach with your training?

So you need to ask questions before you jump on the mobile training bandwagon. Here are some we think you should ask before you call your training development company to say, “It’s time to put our training on phones.”

Question One: How long will our training program be around?

If you’re creating a program that you project will be used for several years or longer, then it could make sense to spend money to create training that will be delivered via smartphones. If you are launching a program that you will only use for months or weeks, more traditional delivery options (like online programs, videos or classroom instruction) could better serve your needs and cost a lot less to launch.

Question Two: How often will our mobile training materials need to be updated, and what will that cost?

Remember that training materials often need to be updated to reflect new products, new processes, marketplace trends and other factors. Sometimes training materials simply need to be improved. Remember to ask your training development company how much it will cost to revise your mobile-delivered materials in the future. Unless you ask ahead of time and get an agreement in writing, you could end up with a mobile training program that will cost too much to maintain.

Question Three: What phones do my trainees use and how do they use them?

Chances are good that many, if not most, of your trainees are using current iPhones and Android devices. But it is smart to find out before you develop a mobile program. Several considerations come into play. First, if 10% or 15% of your trainees have devices that will prevent them from accessing your training, is that acceptable? Second, what will it cost to develop training materials that will work across a range of devices that could now include Apple, Android, BlackBerry and even Google phones? Talk to your training development company early in the planning process to get a bead on costs.

Question Four: Am I only thinking of adapting our current training materials to run on mobile devices?

As a training professional, you already know that it is unrealistic to expect your current web-based training programs to display and function correctly on smartphones. The fact is that delivering your current training programs on smartphones can work best if you start with a clean sheet of paper and create all-new materials from the ground up. We urge you to discuss that issue with your training development company.

Question Five: How should mobile delivery influence training planning and design?

This is a very big question that you should tackle in-depth with your training director or consultant. Here are some considerations that come into play . . .

  • Lesson length and curriculum design. Lessons that seem to be just the right length when delivered on computer terminals generally seem too long on phones. So don’t be surprised if you have to double the number of lessons to cover the same material.
  • Video integration. Videos need to be chosen and formatted to provide an engaging viewer experience on mobile devices.
  • Interactive features. Response forms and questionnaires that work just right on a laptop or tablet screen might not function on smartphones’ smaller screens.
  • Uniform performance across platforms. Training materials must be created not only to function well, but to work perfectly on iPhones, Androids, Blackberries and the rest.

Question Six: Should we develop a company training app?

In many cases, the answer to this question is yes. As long as you are developing online training programs, a convenient app can encourage more of your learners to log in, use your training, and make it part of their routine.

But tread carefully and talk to your training development company before you jump on board and agree to create a proprietary company training app. One reason is that an app is never just one app, but several that function on different mobile devices. Further, an app needs to be updated and maintained as you launch future training programs. All that can add to your development costs more quickly than you expect.

Isn’t it Time for You to Talk with a Tortal Training Professional?

To learn more about launching and optimizing your mobile training, call Dan Black at his direct line: (704) 502-0343.