Content Delivery Channels – What is mLearning Really?

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There is a critical shift for organizations to consider – smartphones are the highest selling devices in the communication markets. If you and your organization want to increase performance, you need to consider leveraging this platform.

Companies are already finding success with these devices for giving executives information they need, salespeople, and field technicians. We are about to see a surge in this medium across the learning industry.

If you want to take advantage of mLearning, or mobile learning, you need to rethink what it means. It is not specifically about courses. It is about altering formal learning and individual performance via delivery of content, support, and connections to others in the company or peers. Think about this – desktop capabilities are now available practically anywhere, as is your ability to take advantage of an respond to the context in which an employee performs.

Our brains are good a pattern matching and making meaning of things we experience. However, we don’t typically recall things very well, which is why we created books. We have also created tools like a calculator to compensate for limited memory capabilities. Humans created cameras and microphones to record our environments. Mail and telephones were put into place so we were able to communicate with others at a distance. Smartphones are a tool that is starting to fill this role.

We can use the benefits from smartphones whenever and wherever we desire or need. Mobile apps allow for further augmentation. Multiple people can work for the same company, have the exact same device, perform the exact same role, yet each uses it in their own customized manner in which they use their smartphones. They can download whichever apps suit their needs and assist them in accomplishing whatever they want.

Another interesting benefit of mobile devices is that usually web access is more widely available than through their work desktop. This simple fact offers an opportunity to alter how learning organizations can address learning.

WHAT TO DO?

Content already has a role in learning, as well as performance support. For mobile devices, it is different. As state earlier, mobile learning is not about course development. Most likely, you will be unsuccessful if you attempt to deliver full courses on smartphones. The true mobile opportunity is about extending the course. Make bits and pieces available when it is convenient for the learner and spread the content over time. The model of dumping a lot of information in a short period just doesn’t work for the human brain, and there is plenty of evidence to support this. We work better with small chunks delivered over time.

Books originally were developed to help our minds recall large volumes of information on demand. Smartphones, tablets, and eReaders have changed this – now we have these volumes of information at our fingertips, right when we need it.

Think about mobile learning in these formats:
• Job aids
• Checklists
• Fact sheets
• Reference material
• Checklists
• On-demand Performance support

Handheld devices can run interactive applications. Think about apps that perform calculations or walk employees through complex dialogues and assist with decision support situations.

Did you know there is an airline that delivers flight checklists on a tablet?

You need to ask yourselves this question:
“What would help an employee/customer be more productive whenever they needed it and wherever they were?”

THE KINGDOM OF THE MOBILE DEVICE

The goal is to not attempt to replicate the desktop on the mobile device. Instead, target the 20% of the content that meets 90% of the need. This means that performance support is now a responsibility of the learning division.

Interestingly, one of the key features of a smartphone you can leverage is the simple fact that it is a phone. Sometimes the learner needs a collaborator, not content. Sometimes, if the need is infrequent, just putting the learner in contact with the right person to assist them is the solution. This is much easier and less expensive than developing a strategy or an application.

The human brain cannot physically recall everything around it, nor all the details of a situation. But, a camera and microphone can. Have learners capture their performances for later review or produce something that proves they have an understanding of the content. Or, you can go the other way with it and have learners capture a situation they want assistance with and deliver the request to the appropriate party.

Most of these devices also come with a built-in GPS unit. That means you can identify where a situation takes place or when the learner reaches a destination. This works well when part of the training involves mobility, such as driving to at customer or walking to a location within an organization. GPS systems know where you want to go, where you currently are, and it helps along the way. This is great if you make a mistake. What if the goal of the system was for a learner to find their way around a plant or your company building? It could guide them through this process.

What if the system was smart enough to know the problem someone sent an employee to resolve? They could have trouble-shooting tips right at their fingertips. What about using the camera as a diagnosis tool? Rather than returning over and over with different tools, have the device assist in diagnosing the issue, provide procedures to do this correctly, and provide repair policies and procedures. If the device had a camera, you can use the layering capability to provide a diagram, if needed, on top of what the person is seeing. By the way, an auto maker is currently doing this with their repair technicians.

Does your company have portals, LMS’s, resource planning tools, and social media tools? Why not work with your IT teams to make these tools available via mobile platforms?

NOT JUST IN THE LEARNING DEPARTMENT

Going mobile comes with risk. You need to make sure you have communicated with IT about security and your legal group about what can be said or shared online.

Going mobile is a cross-organization issue. That means you need to handle it like a strategic initiative. Look for opportunities to piggyback on other groups’ initiatives. Look for participation via your strategic oversight group, IT, legal, financial, communication, sales, and operations.

Remember, mobile is a platform or delivery channel, and it needs to be viewed as such. We need to separate digital tools and learning. We need to not talk about courses, but rather the context of learning and what aids or tools can we provide.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TODAY OR PLANNING FOR TOMORROW?

I can say that our organization is starting to look at the opportunities offered by delivering some content via mobile devices. As we get into this and have some experiences with what works and what does not, I will do my best to share with everyone.

Are you currently deploying training or support via a mobile device? Do you know someone that is involved with this? Share your experiences with the rest of us.

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2 Responses to “Content Delivery Channels – What is mLearning Really?”

  1. mitchelleriche Says:

    There could be now a system which can help and support you through all of your projects. You could no longer bear the agony of working in long hours, trying to make up the deadlines and even have headaches due to errors. It will efficiently enables you to handle your workloads accordingly.

  2. xerxel Says:

    You might want to organize things as well as your project well, then I suggest that you might get some tool to help you fix thing specially your resource so that you can keep your dead line on time and meet every expectation that your client have in you.

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