Just so we’re all on the same page re definitions: Mobile learning is training accessible through the internet using personal devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets. It’s a popular method of delivering quick, bite-sized learning on the go, making it a good choice for supporting organisational capability.
Why are mobile learning exercises good for building organisational capability?
As digital transformations occur in more and more ways in the workplace—consider the impacts of AI right now—mobile learning has become harder to ignore as a training tactic. That’s for a number of reasons.
For one, mobile learning offers true accessibility. Unlike classroom-based learning, mobile learning can be done anywhere at any time, as long as you have a mobile device. That’s important for not just inclusivity, but learner intention and motivation. If employees are able to access learning when, where and how they need (i.e. in the flow of work), they’re more likely to make repeat visits to the content you create or buy. Down the line, that only boosts your ROI and builds a learning culture.
There are times when mobile learning is more effective as a supplement to traditional training courses. Bite-sized content is an easier workload to manage than big, long-winded courses containing dense information, which can easily overwhelm. Where weeks- or month-long programs can be overwhelming, mobile learning can act as a supplement. That may be short revisionary videos or quick reads that cover the key learnings of a completed course, all of which the learner can review between assessments in a program.
You have a higher change of knowledge retention when learning content is more digestible and when learners frequently return to it, especially in the moment of need.
What challenges does mobile learning face when it comes to organisational capability?
Most of the hurdles related to mobile learning come down to technology.
Capabilities aren’t concepts that exist in a vacuum. One high performer won’t negate several employees who aren’t hitting the capability mark. Institutional knowledge is best shared between the people who use it—i.e. your employees—because they can contextualise how to apply it. But solo, short burst learning may remove that experience from the training process, and therefore the speed at which critical knowledge is shared and applied accurately. Small mistakes will add up fast if your employees all have different ideas of what good performance is.
Data security is also a challenge here, particularly if it comes to sensitive information. You need to consider the security of your learning platform or app—and how that may change across borders. The cyber security certificates between Australia and the United States differ, as can compliance between industries.
At the same time, you need to consider what accessibility really means. Today, employees have a variety of mobile devices. Mobile learning requires diverse screen real estate, by which we mean responsive screen design. Always consider if a learning platform or mobile app utilises responsive screen design. You also find yourself in the scenario where learners can’t distinguish between bad user experience and poor training, causing them to check out of L&D entirely.
The impacts of not having mobile learning exercises as part of building organisational capability
But what happens when you don’t use mobile learning at all in a capability-led training strategy?
For one, that perceived time sink for a weeks-long training program will erode learner motivation from day dot. Negative perceptions of training are hard to combat (though not impossible), particularly if the perception is that the training doesn’t serve learners.
In the scenario where longer training programs are necessary, you should be looking for ways to reinforce knowledge transfer between scheduled courses. Without this accessibility, you may send a message to employees that training is just another a box to tick, or that their needs aren’t important. All of which is to say that time to productivity, learner engagement and knowledge transfer are very likely to go out the window.
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