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Gerry Griffin

Skill Pill


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Five tips to implement mobile learning smoothly


As the smartphone continues to cement its position as an indispensable tool in the workplace, learning departments are fast taking note. However, some organisations are guilty of jumping on the mobile bandwagon without giving careful thought to the implementation of their m-learning solutions. Here are some practical guidelines to help L&D leverage and maximise the potential for mobile.

1. Work out what problem you are looking to fix

By the way – “it’s more convenient” is not enough.  Be more ambitious. Before you take the plunge with mobile learning, define your targets. Detail the behavioural changes you are seeking to achieve within learning populations. We have found that certain employee groups respond to mobile better than others. Don’t be tempted to adopt m-learning just because it’s trendy. Make sure it works for you.

Let’s take field sales employees as an example of how mobile can effectively support specific groups. Traditionally, sales staff are sent away on well-executed training programmes. These courses tend to last a couple of days and are usually quite comprehensive in the areas they cover. The average sales rep leaves the programme feeling informed, energetic and confident. However, problems arise months later when employees are faced with real workplace challenges, but the knowledge has faded.  Mobile can provide an optimum solution to this issue.  If implemented well, it can help each rep regain that ‘concert’ feeling from the training session. We support 14,000 reps for a global computer firm and have managed to raise desired performance by between 11 to 19% using m-learning solutions. [case study available]  

2. Mobile is a supplement – not a replacement

To make mobile work within an organisation, it must be an integrated component of the overall learning strategy. By this we mean, it should complement not replace existing learning interventions.  If we take our earlier example again, mobile devices serve to refresh the knowledge and skills which sales reps have already acquired during the training programme. Strategically analyse your learning offering to see how best mobile can fit in with and support face to face and all other learning interventions.

3. Mobile is a step change – not an incremental one

While mobile needs to form part of an overall learning strategy, it’s not a channel ‘add on’. This strategy should take account of the unique pedagogy and psychology on offer. For example, smartphone owners tend to have a strong personal connection with their device. The average smartphone user checks their device an astonishing 150 times a day, that’s once every six minutes. Furthermore, trends such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mean more and more employees are using personal devices in the workplace. This allows L&D to reach employee groups on a personal level. Learning content which has a coaching ‘buddy’ style will work much better than prescriptive, didactic tones of voice.

4. Remember Carlsberg!

25 years ago an award winning ad for Carlsberg claimed it refreshed “parts other beers couldn't reach”.  The same could be said for mobile learning. Mobile is unique in that in can deliver content to employees and places other learning interventions cannot reach.

Global charity ‘Save the Children’ are firm believers in m-learning, using situation-based, ‘Skill Pills’ to deliver key smarts on child safety to workers in the field overseas.

Employee Development Manager Samantha Hackett says: "Having such a wide reach of employees operating worldwide poses challenges for training. Mobile makes sense for us – it’s engaging, informal and accessible – an ideal support tool for our global workforce."

5. Socialise it

Once an m-learning offering has been developed and made available to employees, it’s important to promote it using all types of viral internal campaigns.  Don’t just buy it in and wait for the users to find it out. Use technology to experiment with engaging and inventive awareness techniques.

QR codes and AR (augmented reality) are two mobile learning media helping organisations promote m-learning to employees.  Linking the physical world with the virtual, these two technologies add an extra dimension to the learning experience. Users simply hover their device over the code or image and are taken to a website, video or 3D graphic.

As the question quickly moves on from ‘should we try mobile learning?’ to ‘how will we carry out mobile learning?’ a strong implementation strategy is key. Our 5 tips are a good starting point for any organisation.

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Gerry Griffin


Read more from Gerry Griffin

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