The demand for mobile apps within the enterprise is pervasive and training departments are already feeling the heat. Employees expect access to online training content from their personal devices. According to Gartner, Two-Thirds of the mobile workforce will own a Smartphone and by 2016, 40% of the workforce will be mobile with Tablets being the key accelerator to mobility.Gartner estimates that purchases of tablets by businesses will reach 53 million units in 2016.
Most of the contemporary LMS products and authoring tools supports mobile devices. However, if you intend to go beyond making eLearning content, that is primarily designed for Desktops, be available through mobile devices and tablets, the existing tools are inadequate.
Projects involving the roll-out of a custom mobile applications for delivering learning or performance support don’t ever take off for the following reasons:
1. Training Departments don’t know where to start and if the ROI justifies the investment
2. Lack of technical skills within the organization or organizational politics that preclude the usage of vendors
3. Budget (lack of it)
The best answer to these challenges is to roll-out an app as quickly as possible without spending too much time and without requiring technical expertise. Here are some ideas that make use of inexpensive (and sometimes free) cloud-based tools to give you a jump-start.
1. Messages, Calls and Podcasts
Why not share periodic updates with your team by sending them text messages or voice messages direct to their Smartphones or Tablets? If you have a little more time, you can even broadcast Podcasts that could summarize key training concepts or reinforce important points. One Call Now, Phonevite, PodBean, Train by Cell, and Evoca are some of the tools you can explore. These tools support mobile devices out-of-the-box and you don’t require training to use or deploy them. And most importantly, tools like PodBean provide analytics about content popularity and the devices your employees are using to access the content. This information will help fine tune your content strategy and also gather real world data to justify further investments in building custom mobile learning applications.
2. File Sharing and Collaboration
Tools like Box, Dropbox for Business, Google Apps for Business provide interesting options for the training departments to push documents and multimedia content to mobile devices. These apps provide administrative control (some of them are more “enterprise” friendly than others) and track users, manage permissions and manage users. Goggle Sites is a simple yet powerful tool for creating training portals that are mobile friendly right off the bat. Here is one example. Caution – Talk to your IT team about corporate policies that restricts the use of cloud-based file sharing tools. Many of my customers use Accellion and they seem to have a much wider acceptance among IT teams.
3. Social Collaboration Platforms
Social collaboration platforms like Yammer, Mzinga, Jive, Salesforce Chatter and SocialText provide rich mobile enabled features for sharing updates and letting your employees share knowledge / insights or collaborate with their team members. Features like activity streams, shared workspaces, rating and comments are well suited for mobile use cases. In fact, you can even use free version (Yammer has a free version for limited users) to test your ideas.
So what’s stopping you from getting your mobile learning initiative off the ground? Comments are welcome.