Mobile Learning Without Limitations

Mobile Learning Without Limitations

Is mobile learning the right solution for your organization? This is a need that is best defined by the employee makeup as differences in knowledge, technical proficiency, and age are all factors that help to define the online training delivered to them.

Mobile training has stepped up to the plate to address the training needs of learners who spend a large amount of time out of the office. To get a clearer answer in whether it’s the right solution for your organization, it helps to look at additional data.

A Mobile Future

According to a mobile device survey by Sophos Labs, the average person carries with them 2.9 devices. For the sake of this particular survey, “devices” refer to smartphones, laptops, tablets, MP3 players, and dedicated eReaders like the Amazon Kindle. Most of the devices in the survey listed are internet-capable to one degree or another. That’s a lot of computing power the average person carries with them on a daily basis!

Additionally, a study by Towards Maturity titled Learning In The Mobile Enterprise provides further information into how these devices are being used for learning.

Devices used to access work-related resources and information

Work Computer

Own Computer At Home

Own Computer At Work

Work Mobile Phone

Own Mobile Phone

Work Tablet

Own Tablet

95%

63%

21%

36%

45%

9%

24%

A fair conclusion from this data is that mobile learning in the workplace should be far more prevalent than it is. Despite all the talk of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), online training is still being taken largely on work computers.

As mobile learning technologies mature and more and more young employees like Millenials enter the workforce, the balance of use will shift towards favoring personal mobile devices, rather than laptops or desktops. In fact, 83% of those respondents under 40 are already using their own smartphone or tablet to access training resources. Although with any change, there will be both good and bad implications.

Shifting Attitudes & Mobile Solutions

Despite the seeming ubiquitousness of mobile devices, there is still apprehension from organizations to utilize them as mobile learning tools and integrate them with the training infrastructure.

With the wide variety of devices that can be accessing learning resources at any given time, how do you make sure that all employee’s experiences are consistent? This presents a challenge as screen size and resolution, device hardware and operating systems all need to be taken into account prior to the development of elearning and mobile learning. Online courses will look and work different from a laptop to a tablet. In addition, functional features and exercises will work on one device and not another.

While modern course authoring tools like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate can publish to a format that can be read on mobile devices, it’s not without limitations. Certain learning exercises like drag and drop do not currently work on Android devices. Additionally, search functionality may be limited or not there at all. The most glaring omission is the ability for these courses to adapt based on the device that they’re viewed on. Flash-based courses solve some of the problems but are not supported on Apple or Android tablets and smartphones.

In order to deal with the problem of multiple screen resolutions, device sizes, and functional problems, two solutions exist:

  1. Deliver multiple versions of the same course, each designed for different types of devices

    This can create a problem for the learner as they might not know which version of the course to take. This is also problematic for the learning manager as your Learning Management System (LMS) might not be able to aggregate the data and the true success of the course will be difficult to gauge. Furthermore, as technology is always changing and it’s difficult to know which size or resolution will be prevalent even in two years time.

    The largest problem though lies in the prohibitive cost of developing and maintaining multiple versions of the same course. If multiple versions of a single course need to be developed, this can quickly eat into a training budget.

  2. Deliver a course that can adapt to any device it’s viewed on

    In this solution, an online training course will look and work well across any computer and mobile device. Therefore in order to work best on mobile devices, a course layout shouldn’t simply shrink to fit the screen but rather have its elements reorganize themselves to make best use of the smaller screen. Additionally, as a single version of a course will exist, it becomes much easier from training management perspective. This allows for a more effective use of the training budget.

    The problem here is that few developers can provide this type of solution. Companies that claim to have a mobile learning solution that works for all often have one that works on some devices well and others poorly.

Key Takeaways

While there is a lot of talk around mobile learning, it’s best to know the current makeup of your workforce and decide whether or not this is the right solution for you. Keep in mind that any decision should take into account the next five or ten years.

There are changes coming and mobile learning technologies will be the required standard. However a mobile course built for a desktop today, by most providers, will not work the same way on an iPad and differently on Android devices.

At Vantage Path, we’ve developed an innovative process and a unique set of tools to build mobile learning that works equally as well on desktops, iPads, and Android devices.

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