“Why Mobile Learning?” May Be the Wrong Question—Sarah Gilbert

This guest post comes to us from Sarah Gilbert, president at meLearninggilbert-sarah Solutions and upcoming speaker at FocusOn Learning 2016 Conference & Expo. 

The most common question I’m asked is: “Why should we care about mobile learning?” In a time when most people are carrying around a personal mobile device (sometimes even to bed with them), I find that this question doesn’t really get at the root of mobile adoption challenges.

Perhaps a more relevant question is: “What has to happen for adoption of mobile learning?” Exploring that question gives us a better idea of what it will take to break down some of the barriers that stand between our colleagues and the information they want and need on their tiny pocket computers.

Let’s consider five reasons that mobile has not yet been adopted in many organizations.

1. Lack of use case and/or business case.

Some folks just don’t know how to make a case for mobile in the organization. To make the case for mobile, you have to think about your workforce. What do they need? Talk to them. Observe them in their work environment. Is there information that would be helpful for them to access on their devices? Could there be value in building (or using existing) mobile platforms to support collaboration and curation of content within the organization?

2. Different technology.

The ideal mobile experience may require skills and experience that you or your team members do not currently possess. That, along with diversifying your current development toolset, means you’ll likely be breaking new ground. Are there workshops or online training videos that you could use to help build your skills in this area? Could you take advantage of the opportunity to attend a conference or workshop with a mobile focus? Have you reached out to your network to see how your peers are building their skills?

3. Security.

IT departments and other gatekeepers probably have serious concerns when it comes to “rocking the boat” with your fancy new ideas. Many organizations have already built some level of mobile capability, often in the areas of marketing and communications. Partnering with your tech-savvy colleagues in other departments is a great way to leverage existing company resources that could be expanded to the learning function. This is your chance to work closely with internal stakeholders to build mobile capacity as a cross-functional team.

sarah g istock pic 24. Budget.

Let’s be honest: The money excuse is often a cop-out. If you have a good business reason for mobile learning and can describe how it will support business goals, you can build a strong case for investing in a mobile solution. A well-thought-out mobile solution can save the company money in efficiencies and risk mitigation, and it sometimes generates revenue through increased productivity. Any good business knows that it takes investing in your people to be successful. Yes, it is possible that you’re in a toxic organization that doesn’t value investing money to be profitable. However, your success is typically based on whether you can articulate how investing in mobile learning contributes to the business, and that takes some serious thought and analysis.

5. Insufficient infrastructure.

This is a very common challenge that isn’t limited to the mobile space. Many companies have a learning management system (LMS) that they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement and maintain. With that kind of money being spent, you are likely expected to use the LMS to deploy anything you create. The problem is that most LMS vendors have more customers than you. Those other organizations have a variety of business needs and expectations of your vendor. So, unless you have a custom-built platform, it is difficult to demand support for anything other than SCORM/AICC packaged content. Fortunately, some LMS vendors are beginning to implement mobile support, but often it is limited in capabilities and provides an undesirable user experience. This calls for revisiting No. 1—make a good enough business case for your mobile learning solution by incorporating a deployment plan that moves away from sinking even more money into archaic delivery platforms.

So what’s next? First, think about how you use your mobile device to learn something new. Are you thinking of something—perhaps a recent YouTube video or a great checklist?

Now, think of something your fellow employees struggle with simply because they haven’t really learned it or put it to practice yet. What is needed to close that gap? Could mobile play a role in contributing to the solution? Identify your own organization’s challenges, and begin working toward a solution.

Take a deeper dive with Sarah on this topic at her pre-conference workshop, Getting Started with Mobile Learning, at FocusOn Learning 2016 Conference & Expo on Monday, June 6, in Austin, Texas. Click here to learn more!


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