But as demand increases, Skillsoft will either release mobile-friendly content or retrofit existing products that make sense on mobile.
On smartphones, clients want shorter forms of content, text messaging reminders and video, said Pam Boiros, Skillsoft’s vice president of corporate marketing. For tablets, users can have a more immersive experience with games or simulations.
Either way, while organizations might consider using mobile apps for games or simulations on company-issued devices, e-learning content still needs to be mobile optimized. “It’s definitely an investment to support apps for all different platforms, and clients are also wedded to those vendors and their requirements for their operating systems,” Boiros said.
Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president of IBM Corp.’s Smarter Workforce business unit, said learning on mobile devices should be less-structured informal learning because the modality works best for people on the go.
“Boston Children’s Hospital is transforming how pediatric medicine is taught and practiced around the world with an informal and formal learning system for nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners,” he said. “There was an incident in which a baby was delivered, but was turning blue, and hospital workers were having trouble getting the ventilation machine to work. With mobile learning, they managed to get to information from a system expert that showed them how to get the ventilator fixed within minutes to save the baby.”
IBM is also working to make mobile learning seamless with other modalities so workers can access content on desktops, follow up on tablets and finish on smartphones.
But some companies are encountering headwinds.
“The major barrier for corporations to mobile is that millions of dollars of legacy content is sitting in Flash, and they can’t automatically put it on mobile devices. But we’re seeing a lot of video on mobile for training, and the majority of new content is video … which is likely to have forward compatibility with any new technology,” said Rory Cameron, senior vice president of corporate development and emerging platforms at Callidus Software Inc.
Organizations are also challenged when tracking mobile learning within existing learning management systems. This is especially true if content is provided via mobile apps, said Robert Gadd, co-founder and president of OnPoint Digital Inc., an e-learning and m-learning platform company in Savannah, Ga. “The favored app-centric approach to mobile mandates the use of newer and more flexible tools, interfaces and ways to interact with today’s learning content.”
A unique advantage of mobile learning is the ability to transition workers into content contributors. “Using a mobile device’s camera, video and audio capabilities makes it a snap to capture an image of something, interview a customer or verbally record a set of findings,” said Katherine Guest, OnPoint’s co-founder and chief marketing officer. The company is also using user-generated content effectively for peer training and compliance tracking.
Most important, organizations have to tie mobile learning to business results, said Sarah Gilbert, president of meLearning Solutions in Atlanta. For instance, she said salespeople don’t always have time for games; they need learning in the moment instead. “Some organizations just don’t need mobile right now because it doesn’t fit a particular business need,” Gilbert said.