Mobile Learning Ιn Τhe Workplace: The LMS Perspective

11/06/2017

Mobile learning in the workplace is often seen in its different avatars. One of these is the mobile LMS that enables access to learning in offline (non-internet connected) mode too. We look at the potential, and the advantages of this app-based LMS for the corporate landscape.

hy A Mobile LMS Is Essential For Mobile Learning Ιn Τhe Workplace

Search. Type. Enter. Click.

One click. This is all it takes to find answers, to get immediate assistance for sending emails and communicating with peers. This alone defines the level of invasiveness of mobile devices in the workplaces today. The digital natives, and the tech-savvy prefer to have answers at the tip of their fingers rather than stored away in books, and manuals, and mobiles have indeed taken over both personal and professional lives.

From structural to functional changes, shift in the global corporate landscape, disruptive technologies and the ever-expanding workforce scattered across various geographical locations, modern workplaces have come a long way. In such a landscape, learning, too, has changed and taken the form of continuous independent personal learning, often supported by mobile devices, making mobile learning an integral part of the workplace learning strategy.

According to Statista [1], "The worth of the mobile contents market worldwide is expected to reach 53.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2018". And according to Ambient Insight's 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market Forecast, "the Worldwide Market For Mobile Learning Will Reach $12.2 Billion By 2017".

Mobile learning (mLearning) today is no longer just a 'good-to-have'. It is rather an essential part of the future of workplaces. The multi-device boom succeeded to bring the mobile-first approach to the fore. The flexible policies in workplaces have also triggered the shift towards enabling search-driven learning, where learner can search, and access, learning at the point of need. mLearning, that earlier was an umbrella term for learning on tablets and smartphones, is now leaning more towards the latter, owing to the growing advancements in device capabilities (i.e. smartphones with accelerometer, GPS, etc., and often align better with supporting wearables and accessories of today’s and of the future). These features in themselves add to the interactive capabilities that it offers. It goes without saying that when content becomes mobile, so does the packaging, and the delivery model.

And hence, the call for a mobile LMS.

The Growing Demand For Just-In-Time Learning

While anytime, anywhere learning is one of the most coveted features of a mobile LMS (with mobile compatible learning content), the ease of use also allows learners to search for information they need and use it at the time of need. The learning today (learning 3.0 and the whole enchilada) has transformed to an on-demand learning rather than pushed one. This in turn has pushed the boundaries of performance support through mobile.

In any organization, there are 3 scenarios that usually lead to just-in-time learning:

When there is a prominent time gap between the time of learning and the time of getting an opportunity to implement or apply it in the workplace. The time gap in turn results in an often clouded, or hazy memory of how to perform a certain task, thereby putting the output at risk.

At times, there arise new situations wherein the employees have to perform the task that they have never learned, or been trained in.

Irrespective of the initiatives and programs by the organizations, some learners rely heavily on just-in-time learning primarily as it suits their learning styles, and that’s how they like to work.

Scenarios aside, the ease of use, increased mobility of workforce, multiple shifts, the work hours, competition, and most importantly the changing policies, protocols, compliance standards that need constant modification, reviews etc. drives the need for a more flexible content design, development and deployment strategy. Small learning nuggets, delivered on mobile LMS apps that can be accessed on-the-job, something that employers and employees would easily want to take advantage of.

The Potential Of Offline Learning

According to Internet World Stats [2], "51.7% of the global population uses internet".

The world has been witnessing the all-around development and technological advancement in the fields of mobile hardware, software, and the telecom infrastructure. However, as the statistics point out, 48.3% of the world is yet to be connected through internet, and the rest that is connected often faces connectivity issues. Also, in an organizational structure, there always is a part of the workforce- large or small, that often encounters device restrictions due to security issues or other policies.

With all this, there is always a need for learning content that can be downloaded, through secure channels and accessed. A mobile LMS handles it all, and in addition tracks the learning activities, syncs it back with the primary learning environment, consuming internet bandwidth only when permitted. This solves several problems for the users - consuming internet bandwidth only once in contrast to the active synching each time the learning content is viewed. This enables learners to learn when they have time to learn and access to a mobile device. For the organizations, the biggest benefit is that it allows, and enables, learning to reach every individual in the chain irrespective of internet connectivity, and work environment. A win-win for both the organization and the employees.

And More….

What does mobile LMS chip in, in addition to the above-mentioned?

Push Notifications.

They can play crucial role in mLearning. It holds the potential to take learning delivery to a smarter-level, in addition to its actual task of alert notification of updates in the apps. Mobile learning format is most often short and simplified, targeted with push notifications, it can actually deliver the learning nuggets in a scheduled manner. Clubbed with a mobile LMS, this can help in creating a learning calendar for the users. Basically, learners will no longer have to keep a tab nor constantly check the learning schedules as push notifications will bring learning to them, hence becoming a powerful tool in microlearning delivery. Push notifications can also amplify the benefits of a gamified learning environment by quickly sharing the relevant game information with all users.

QR Codes.

These undermined powerhouses in mobile devices provide excellent tagging mechanism and the fact that it can be linked to an internet resource makes it perfect to create an on-demand learning environment based on QR codes.

Let’s consider some common examples.

Product Training (Physical Products Or Even Software).

A product distributor or manufacturer can publish QR codes on each product. When the code is scanned using a mobile LMS app, the system gathers all the learning content tagged for that product, hence making content searches and learning easier. The learning content can cover anything from how-to-use, how-to-sell, how-to-support, and more. The ease of pulling up relevant and accurate information can save a lot of time.  This model can also be applied for software support, wherein QR codes can be embedded at areas where help may be needed. The mobile LMS can then easily pool all the relevant information upon scanning of the code.

Another Instance Of Use Would Be In Automobile Maintenance And Servicing.

Each component can have a QR code which the engineer can scan using the mobile LMS and quickly learn more about the component, its installation, removal, dos and don’ts, etc.

This can come in handy when new learning needs arise, where learners encounter unknown scenarios and can access information easily by scanning QR codes.

Value Add For Organizations

Mobile learning offers numerous benefits to the learners in terms of making it very easy to use, convenient to access learning anywhere, anytime and quickly, the same benefits translate to better business for the organization. Considering the ever-dynamic business environment that prevails and shall remain so, learned/trained employees would translate to a company’s overall performance. Enabling and ensuring that the learners have instant access to everything they need in order to perform well can assure not just an organization’s growth but its survival too. The value brought by a mobile LMS, if not more, can often be equated to the value that individual employees bring in. After all, performance of employees, often depends on instant access to the relevant learning.

By Amit Gautam

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