Delivering information to employees via mobile devices appears to be the latest hot trend in employee learning and development. However, if this delivery method means simply reading classroom training documents on a Web site or downloading a file that is thick with facts and instructions, we will not enhance learning nor help employees contribute to the success of their organizations. Whether the information resides on a mobile device, is accessed by GPS (e.g., Adobe Captivate 8), or is automatically delivered via a beacon (e.g., KnowledgeStar™), the quality of the content and the way it is presented and supported are critical to learning and application.
RJ Jacquez makes the point that whatever the device, whether desktop, laptop, tablet, smart phone, or wearables, the content must be presented in an effective way. He writes, “…design flexible and device-agnostic learning that is accessible anytime, anywhere and on any screen.” I would add, “Pay attention to the learning preferences of employees.” This is just as important on a wearable device as it is in the classroom. Does an individual prefer reading text, listening to a podcast, watching a video, discussing with co-workers, practicing with feedback, or any of a myriad of other methods of learning?
Also, pay attention to the environment in which learning is intended to occur. Learning is heavily influenced by the situation. The device might be mobile but the circumstances for learning and performance are not. What are the physical demands? What are the psychological demands? What are the social demands? All of these situational demands affect learning.
The tendency is to get so caught up in the technology that we forget about the needs of learners in their particular situations. David Grebow and I have explained the need for more “pull” learning and less “push” learning, which, historically, has been the primary way in which employee training has been done. In the current work environment, employees need to be able to identify what they need to know when they need to know it and then have ready access to that knowledge and skills. In other words, they need to learn how to learn in an organization and on-the-job.
In many cases, it may be more important for training managers to help employees learn how to learn from mobile devices rather than push specific content. It’s not enough to make the information (compliance, safety, operation, planning, etc.) available. We need to teach learners how to “pull” what they need just-in-time, how to apply that knowledge to their jobs, and how to get feedback for continuous improvement.