Mobile learning is not new. It’s been around for years now but only recently we’ve seen it maturing into something that you can use for more advanced forms of training. A big part of this is due to the technology that is all around us. Smart phones and tablets can be found in almost any house-hold making delivery to a mobile device easier than ever before. E-learning authoring tools, video recording tools and mobile learning apps are available for free or at very reasonable prices. These advancements will make that the development of mobile learning for corporate organizations will become accessible and affordable. Let’s take a look at what corporate Learning and development professionals will need to consider when going mobile.
Select a delivery platform
Most organizations have had a Learning management system (LMS) for quite some time now and traditionally these have not been state of the art. If you’re lucky you are partnered with a vendor that has a larger vision then just making money out of its client’s pockets and actually has been proactively listening to the industry and implementing new features and along the way keeping their platform ready for the present (and hopefully, the future). If this is not the case for your organization you might be looking to acquire a new LMS or to be putting a mobile ready learning portal in front of your ancient LMS. Whichever may be the case you need to make sure the employees can access, search and launch your organizations training just as easy as they can access any application from their mobile devices. A couple of things to take into account are:
- Available via an open internet connection or accessible via the company network (guess what’s more user friendly)
- Search-ability is key. Often not all your content part of the LMS. You’ll have 3rd parties supplying content or content located on the intranet or other platforms. Ideally your delivery platform will have all relevant training available via the search feature
- Usability should be on the top of your list (then why is it the 3rd bullet point?)
Make it accessible for Mobile devices
When getting ready for mobile learning you’ll come to a point where you need to make a decision. “Will I define which mobile devices I’ll support or will I make it available to all devices (and there are a gazillion of them)”. Unfortunately each device is unique. Like computers they’ll have different processing power, video capabilities, storage capability, operating system(s), browser types and versions… the list goes on.
You need to consider your security policies and perhaps make some amendments to make them more current.
You also need to realize that most of the current offering probably isn’t ready to run on a mobile device. True, some of the really old courses in your catalog is probably built in DHTML (the preHTML5 stuff) but most will be running on Flash and that won’t work on your devices. This means you need to review your current course catalog but I’ll talk about that a bit more later.
Make it available via the internet
Now that you’ve selected your delivery platform (LMS) and you’ve made some decisions regarding the device(s) you’ll be supporting it’s time for another challenge; making your courses available via the internet. If you’re looking for a truly successful mobile strategy you need to allow users to launch your courses directly from their devices (even if it’s a laptop) without the needs to log into the corporate network. You really don’t need that hurdle. In the real world we’ll connect to everything without the need to do so and we’re doing more important things than following some training program.
Select an authoring tool(s)
As I mentioned earlier most of your catalog is probably not mobile ready. It may be that you’ve got training programs that are still completely classroom based, have e-learning materials that date from a not so mobile era and have fairly new stuff that isn’t mobile ready simply because it never was a requirement. That means everything that you have created (purchased or licensed) from now on needs that requirement. All the existing materials need to be reviewed and rebuild. To make sure this happens as smoothly as it possibly can (hey, you’re working with technology, there’s always something bound to surprise you) you need to find one or more authoring tools and make them the standard for the organization. This will help you by knowing the capabilities and restrictions of the tools you’re working with and help you select which tool suits which learning solution best.
When you’ve implemented these standard tools you’ll also have the benefit of doing your own maintenance. Make sure the project source files are part of the projects deliverables and you’ll never have to be depended on a specific supplier again.
Review your course catalog
The task of reviewing your current course catalog may be daunting but it is absolutely necessary. There is no easier way to lose your credibility than have your employees go online, have them search for a course and it turns out it doesn’t work. You might get away with it once but after a second time you’ve lost them. They’re gone and won’t be coming back any time soon.
What NEEDS to be mobile?
Obviously you cannot just convert everything and anything. You need to go through the current catalog(s) and mark which courses absolutely need to be available for mobile learners. You could also mark those courses that might need to be available but use separate marks for easy reviewing and to have something that you’re going to work at when you’ve completed all the need-to-have’s.
Once you have finished marking the need-to-have’s from the nice-to-have’s and the not-going-to-happen’s you need to start prioritizing. Like any other new project a rebuild (and probably redesign) will take time and money. You probably need to jump to quite some hoops before you get the time, the budget and resources you need. Having your priorities straight, and checked with your internal stakeholders, will help you make the right decisions straight from the start.
Rebuild or Rebuild, Update and Rebrand?
Rebuilding existing content is actually a great opportunity. Where possible don’t just start rebuilding the exact thing in your new authoring tool but take the time to learn from what you already know about this course. How has it been doing the time it was available? Does it actually achieve what it sets out to do? Is the issue being addressed still an issue? What has been the actual business impact of this course or program? What do users think about the format and more importantly, the relevance of the content? Take advantage make sure you improve where possible. That might mean your rebuild becomes a totally new course to replace the current version. Again, taking this kind of assessment will help your company’s bottom line as that is where the effect of your corporate training should be measured.
Identifying the quick-wins from the bigger projects allows you to set up two development tracks making sure you keep making progress while creating new courses along with the ones that ‘simply’ need a brand and content update and some basic mobile accessibility updates.
Now that you’re working on rebuilding and rebranding your corporate learning portfolio you shouldn’t forget to do the marketing that is o so important. People need to know what you are working on and what you have achieved for them. Upwards and downwards in the organization people need to be informed and inspired and should be eager to take the time to check out these new and updated training programs and courses. Make sure you tailor your message to your audience and keep at it!
If you build it, they will come!
I’d love to hear your thoughts or comments! Leave them below
As you may have seen I’ve added nice Articulate Storyline 2 freebie. Check out the Mobile menu and download the file to adjust and use in your own projects!