7 Mobile Learning Facts L&D Managers Should Know
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1. More than 5 billion people in the world own a mobile phone.

Clearly, mobile technology is making a significant impact in our world. Does this automatically translate into employees being ready to learn on their phones? Not really. Before making that leap there are some things you need to find out. Does your company encourage a bring your own device (BYOD) policy or if everyone is issued a company phone? In either case, you’ll need to determine if mobile learning deliverables will function properly on the devices. If testing is successful, you’ll also need to examine internet access and connectivity issues. Some of the older smartphones may not be able to smoothly process high data loads, and some deliverables may have to be accessed through the company’s firewall, which could cause problems for devices outside the organization.

2. Mobile delivery options depend on the content and audience.

Content Areas Delivered to Mobile Devices

The statistics from CLO Magazine may seem surprising, as many learning managers kicked off mobile learning deployment with soft skills, leadership, and business skills training. However, we see that compliance training now ranks first in the content areas delivered on mobile devices. Why? Compliance training is usually dry, repetitive, and boring. Completing this type of training on a mobile device can add some engagement, motivation, and interactivity.

3. About 59.9 percent of mobile device users prefer vertical orientation.

When designing learning for a mobile device, we have a tendency to design in a landscape orientation, both because our brain has been trained on PowerPoint slides, and because we’re trying to maximize the available real estate for content presentation. However, research shows that most smartphone users prefer to hold their phones vertically. This is a significant design consideration, especially if you’re going to be asking for typed input. It helps that mobile device screen sizes have increased, so designers do have more space to work with even in portrait orientation.

4. Adults looks at their phone 100-200 times per day, and spend an average of 4 minutes at a time inside an app.

And yet we still try to deploy 30-minute videos, documents with multiple pages, and full-blown, comprehensive assessments in mobile learning. The reality is that we must embrace the shorter attention span of today’s world. Micro-learning in the form of bite-sized learning nuggets is an ideal approach for mobile learning instruction. Think “flash cards” for mobile knowledge transfer, short, easy to digest videos, and you can be sure employees will be grateful that you’ve taken into consideration how they prefer to consume content on their devices.

5. 42 percent of new employees say they are likely to leave their current job because they’re not learning quickly enough.

Employees, especially millennials, expect dynamic mobile learning. In a world of continuous change, it is not surprising that employees look at the ability to learn and advance in their job as a vital part of their career. L&D teams have to be efficient in designing and delivering learning that is easily consumed at the time of need. Mobile learning is key to achieve this goal. Corporate training should focus on performance support through mobile learning. Mobile learning is uniquely suited to facilitating and supporting performance, through providing relevant and reliable resources. Employees can often be subject to information overload, and the ability to find and assimilate the right information at the right time is as important as learning a new concept or process.

6. Custom technology is not always desirable, and user-friendly implementation is a must.

There are many mobile learning developers out there, and most of them offer custom applications and features. Unless they’ve been thoroughly researched and tested, however, custom features may cause more problems in the long run than they’re worth. If we focus on ensuring that the mobile learning design is HTML5 enabled (native HTML5 is preferred) and responsive, the deliverables will most likely work and look beautifully across all mobile devices. Keep in mind that testing is not optional. Test, test, and re-test, and choose your custom features wisely. The implementation of any mobile learning technology should be intuitive and seamless. Multiple-step set-ups with various logins, instructions, and downloads are not the way to go. Most of the time, you should be able to use a single link to a full-proof mobile onboarding process. Your company’s security requirements, app deployments, and virtualization options should be encrypted in the “back end”, so working with a knowledgeable training provider is essential.

7. Obtaining relevant user analytics for mobile learning is no longer difficult.

L&D managers are often asked to justify the investment in training and technology. Having good metrics makes it that much easier to defend mobile learning choices. More importantly, being able to track in detail not just the completion of the training but having insights into who is using each piece of learning, when, how, and for how long helps optimize delivery and align it to specific employee performance needs. The new CMI-5 standard with xAPI allows us to launch and track content without necessarily using an LMS. It also allows for gathering detailed information on any learning experience. We know that most learning happens informally. When they need to learn something, employees very rarely rely on an LMS search. They go to the Intranet, Google, YouTube, or perhaps a subject matter expert. With SCORM, we have been able to only track learning experiences from the LMS, but xAPI has changed that model. Learning can happen anywhere, and xAPI lets us track it.

Keeping these mobile learning facts in mind will help L&D managers design, develop, and deploy a successful mobile learning strategy.

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