With the rise of mobile technology, many learning executives are saying mobile is the innovative delivery method of choice when it comes to getting content to employees.
But just because millions of people use tablets and smartphones in their personal lives doesn’t mean all types of workplace learning can adapt to the medium effectively. As mobile learning use matures, organizations are figuring out where it makes the most sense — and, perhaps more important, where it does not.
That said, mobile learning is on the rise: 17 percent of U.S. learning organizations surveyed in an April report from Bersin by Deloitte, a learning and development research firm, deploy the learning delivery method, and 31 percent of large organizations use mobile in their learning strategy.
Further, more e-learning vendors are dovetailing existing products to support mobile, employing tools such as Adobe Captivate, Articulate Presenter or Lectora to create HTML5 content that can work in any form, said David Mallon, Bersin by Deloitte’s head of research.
Still, obstacles remain, namely debate about whether the organization or the learner should provide the devices. In these cases, cost is a factor, but so are device standardization and security concerns. Also, who pays for employees accessing learning content during their off-hours?
“Too many organizations thought they could just bring the content they already had onto a mobile device and force fit it into a smartphone or tablet,” Mallon said. “But so much e-learning is done with Flash, and that creates a problem on mobile devices. It’s becoming easier to work with, but features are still lost, and it breaks a lot.”
For example, Mallon mentioned financial services firms proposing employees take compliance training on their smartphones while commuting. He said the firms couldn’t get them to read two-hour courses on such small devices. The most effective use of mobile appears to be performance support, a learning method that enables field workers to access content.
Mallon said progressive learning practitioners who have moved beyond basic experimentation realize a realistic potential for mobile learning in large part by leveraging the unique capabilities devices offer rather than trying to apply it broadly.