Training is an integral part of any organisation. It helps enhance employee skills and keep them updated on the latest developments in their industry, acquire new skills and review the existing ones. A good training program enables the companies to manage and train their present team which sometimes reduces the need for additional recruitment as well. Traditional corporate training methodologies were mostly classroom based and instructor led training modules. Over a period of time corporate training evolved with the advent of internet and mobile technologies, transitioning traditional learning to e-learning and mobile learning. Mobile learning or m-learning involves use of mobile technology, either alone or in combination with other information and communication technology, to enable learning anytime and anywhere. The benefits for organisations converting traditional training programs onto digital channels have gained acceptance over the years as they have become more affordable, accessible and effective than its traditional counterparts. Mobile facilitates scalability, flexibility and speed to corporate training solutions. Let’s take a look at some of these aspects.
Classroom based training is limited in its scale, due to restrictions in space it may impact the number of people being trained at a time and restricted to a specific location. It requires employee movement from different places in case of a big organisation which accounts to loss of productivity and expenditure on travel thereby increasing the cost of training. Frequent upgrades in the processes and technologies that companies adapt can make it much more difficult to be taught to the workforce in a proper training scenario. Mobile learning is scalable to tens of thousands of employees providing seamless content delivery and the ability to track usage data of the learner. Mobile has redefined the reach and engagement in a way that has never been done before. The number of active mobile devices and tablets are more than the current population. Today's Tech savvy companies are looking at potentially conducting nearly 18% of their training on mobile platforms. This is also due to the high rates of adoption of mobile devices in the recent past to access learning materials via apps and learning management systems (LMS) by mobile users.
Mobile based training means that employees can learn at the workplace, at home and even on the move while commuting to office or away for a business conference. Moreover, its possible to learn offline or with low connectivity as well if the system enables employees to download a copy of the training material on the mobile devices. These mobile learning platforms also record the learner's progress directly to the organisation’s central learning management system, which enables the managers to keep track of their team's training progress. Mobile Learning supports e-learning, podcast's and video on multiple devices like smartphones and tablets. Its flexible and it also allows blended learning, which can work while combined with the face-to-face trainer interactions to create hybrid training models, if the organisation deems the need for having a physical trainer for a particular type of training. It provides at the moment of need learning, for example, let's say a technician is learning how to handle a tool right on the shop-floor, he/she can start learning without waiting for an instructor, by using a mobile based training class. This boosts performance, improves employee satisfaction and increases retention rates as well as the employees feel that they can contribute a lot without being asked to wait for trainers to make time to train them. Rapid authoring tools like Storyline 2 is a good example of a mobile training system. It comes with in-built native learning apps for iOS and Android platforms, and the organisation can publish existing instructor-led training (ILT) content to these apps with just a click. This allows in updating the course content as and when required. Mobile learning facilitates excellent just-in-time (JIT) support from the instructors and enhances the learning experience of the employees. The trainees can be provided with supplementary learning material and videos tailored to their needs, creating highly customised learning experiences.
Engagement and effectiveness
Mobile apps enable high level of employee engagement in corporate learning programs. Multimedia features, like audio and video, can enhance the materials, interactive quizzes and gamification techniques can be incorporated to spark engagement, and connecting to corporate social media networks can facilitate collaboration as well. Millennials make up 25% of the current workforce. This figure is expected to reach 40% by 2020. Its believed that mobile learning is the preferred learning format for them. This is because most millennials are tech-savvy and are at easy with smartphones and tablets already.
Hult International Business School redesigned their One-Year MBA curriculum to fully integrate the teaching of critical ‘soft skills’ and measure students’ development in a systematic and comprehensive way.
Cost of training
Adoption of mobile apps for training increases usage and ROI on existing device and network infrastructure. It also integrates well with existing learning management systems too. This method of learning enables users to achieve higher scores with reduced learning times, which ultimately leads to reduced costs in employee training. Its less expensive when compared to classroom training as they can be deployed using BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) schemes, where the employees can use their own devices and learn anywhere they are.
Use of mobile technologies to educate employees brings them up to speed on their job responsibilities in a way which is already comfortable to them. Having access to training modules, users can simply swipe or tap to get the online resources they need instantly. Real time support resources enable employees to instantly address concerns and ask questions without taking time away from their job responsibilities. They can just browse to view e-Learning videos or articles that serve as supplemental training resources. As the mobile learning apps enable employees to learn at their own pace, they can get the experience and training without worrying about getting judged at the speed of their learning. Mobile devices are ideal for the delivery of bite-sized, less than 15 min online learning modules which are custom made for mobile learning, they are the ideal training format for Millennial workforce, which is accustomed to getting information in short quick bite sizes and learning from them.
Mobile analytics enable organisations to collect large volumes of data on employee feedback, types of courses undertaken, and difficulties being faced in understanding the training material, which can all be taken into account when improving the courses for future employees. Trainees can be successfully put into better learning, testing and review feedback loop with proper analytics in place.
Companies can leverage technology to impart training to their new and existing workforce through mobile apps and platforms. They can design these bite sized course modules to be accessed from anywhere and at any time. This makes learning easy, flexible and fun. Platforms like iTunes, Udemy, Coursera, and Skill Pill can be replicated and can potentially enable large number of individuals to include educational content into their training programs. Technologies like Connected TV's, AR and VR can also be used to deliver training modules at workplace as well as at home to enable flexible learning. We at hedgehog lab have built a soft skills training module for Hult International Business School and worked with Fitch Learning in redesigning their suit of apps which helped us understand the ecosystem of corporate training apps.
What do you think mobile can do to disrupt learning in future?