Today, more people use their mobile devices to access the internet than use traditional online devices, such as PCs or laptops. We are also seeing an increase in the trend of employees accessing learning and work-related content on their mobile devices. What impact will this have on the content you provide your employees? 

The Learning Technology Research Project examined peoples’ behaviours, experiences and preferences during a real programme that provided learning and work-related content to people – all delivered to Apps on their phones and tablets.

One of the important conclusions from the research is that, no matter how good your content, if peoples’ experience in finding and consuming the content is poor, then usage and impact will suffer.

What do you need to do to get the overall experience right? 

For ease of reference, I have grouped my observations and recommendations under six headings.

1. Make it easy, make it smooth

The essential first step for mobile delivery of content is a modern looking, easy-to-use mobile learning App, which has a good visual impact, smooth use and easy installation. Stick to the familiar navigation and user interaction methods in keeping with your target mobile platform.

Content and other information must be presented clearly and simply. The choice and design of Apps is considered key here – simply using a phone to browse to a mobile optimised website can work, but is generally a poor substitute in comparison to native mobile Apps. Employees are accustomed to very slick commercial and social Apps on their mobile devices, so anything that you give them has to be of equally high quality – otherwise you risk turning them off even before they start.

2. Use anywhere

The ability to consume content offline adds a whole new dimension to the experience. By their very nature mobiles are…well, mobile. With many environments out of cellular or Wi-Fi range or connectivity, it is essential to provide people with the ability to work offline when required. This means they can access their learning and work-related content when travelling and out-of-the-office. 

3. Rapid access – find and retrieve it easily

Content such as microlearning, reference manuals, worksheets and job aids, are only useful if they can be accessed quickly and easily. Your learning management system can probably group your content into learning programmes or curriculums for your employees. These may have mandatory and/or optional elements, but curricula are a good and easily understood way of arranging content for a learning programme. Additionally, your employees will want to access content on an ad hoc basis to answer particular queries or concerns. So easy navigation, coupled with first-class search and tagging capabilities, are really important.

4. Track it

Tracking content completion, assessments, surveys, and so on, are all important, so you can maintain a full record of your eomployees’ learning. It’s also important that you track and assess peoples’ progress and competency levels. The old SCORM approach is very limited here so, if you can, go for a solution that supports the modern and more comprehensive Experience API as the tracking mechanism.

5. Gamification

In the right environment, gamification can be attractive to employees. The LTR Project used gamification to display the learner’s percentage-of-programme-completion, alongside others on a competitive leaderboard. The research found that some liked these elements but that it was not for everyone.

6. Social

Social learning means different things to different people. Findings were mixed here, with a relatively small subset of people actively participating in discussions. My view is that it is more powerful to set up tracked discussion threads directly related to individual items of content, so that a individual who completes a piece of content can naturally review comments and contributions from others. I would see separate general interest discussion forums of secondary value.

Conclusion

The content is vital – but employees want slick, fast, easy, convenient access, too. 

One won’t work without the other – you have to get them both right!

Notes:

The Learning Technology Research Project was undertaken at the end of 2016 and examined preferences and the educational impact of a programme of training delivered to Apps on people’s mobile phones and tablets. The programme was delivered at spaced intervals as a set of multi-media microlearning pieces from the Agylia Learning Management System. User behaviours, experiences and preferences were studied by researchers from Agylia and the University of the West of England.

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