Mobile learning: Training of the future

April 19, 2018

 

Every student has said it: Some subjects simply can’t be taught effectively in a traditional classroom. They may have expressed their frustration to their parents, a friend or even the classroom teacher. The wording may have varied, but the meaning was the same. And they were right—not everything is best learned from behind a desk. Sometimes, the most effective way to retain information is to be more actively engaged. This is especially true in job training in the retail and restaurant industries. It is for this reason that many businesses in these industries have chosen to embrace mobile learning. 

 

What is mobile learning?

 

Mobile learning is just an expansion of eLearning. It is further modernizing the successful idea that younger generations learn best from more engaging content that is delivered to them through digital platforms that they have already embraced. eLearning allowed individuals to be trained through a computer screen, and now mobile learning is allowing them to be trained anywhere and anytime through any screen. 

 

What are the benefits of mobile learning?

 

Mobile learning is more than just a buzzword. It is a tool that forward-thinking businesses are investing in so that, down the road, they can gain significant rewards. Here are just a few of those rewards:

 

1. Mobility

 

This advantage may seem too obvious to state, but it is not. Yes, it is beneficial for any sector to have training options that allow employees to receive their training from any location. However, for industries like restaurant or retail, mobility takes training to a whole new level. These industries are mobile in and of themselves. Only a handful of staff stay in one spot, behind a desk for the majority of the day. Most employees in these industries are constantly on the move. They are behind the counter, by the front door, on the floor, and in the back. Each of these areas comes with varied training. The ability to train on a mobile device in the exact location where the employee will be working bridges the gap between theory and practical application. 

 

2. More engagement

 

Mobile training enhances the engagement capabilities of eLearning. While the gamification and varied learning techniques that could be employed through eLearning have made employee training more effective than traditional classroom training methods, the old, computer-style eLearning still puts staff behind a desk. Mobile learning takes these enhanced and personalized training approaches and puts them in the hands of a staff member. That employee can now be trained while they are working, at whatever station they’re at. They can perform the task that they are being taught about. This creates much higher engagement rates, as well as markedly enhanced employee empowerment. 

 

3. Affordability

 

Mobile learning is one of the most affordable forms of employee training that has ever existed. Its cost-effectiveness is enabled through three characteristics of mobile learning's core.

First, the training courses and programs that are offered through mobile learning can be implemented on any device. This means that whatever device an employee uses, any smartphone or tablet, is the device that training happens on. Businesses no longer have to purchase new computers or laptops every few years for employees to be trained with, creating notable savings. 

 

Second, no outside expert has to be brought in to conduct the training. This means that there is no fee paid for outsourced labor, and management and corporate employees can focus on their own important tasks instead of training employees.

 

Finally, as employees are being trained, they are also working. Companies no longer have to pay employees for hours spent only on training. Instead, they are paying employees to work and while they work, they are being trained with mobile learning. 

 

To provide a cost comparison, the Association for Talent Development’s 2016 State of the Industry findings show that traditional training can end up costing businesses an average of $1,252 per employee. And that does not include the time that an employee could be doing active, profit-generating work, which is over 30 hours per employee. This cost is extremely high when compared to mobile training, which businesses can get for as little as $20 per employee per month. With mobile learning, employees will be provided with valuable training tools that they can use and learn from over a longer period of time while they are actively working. 

 

4. Increased ROI

 

Mobile learning is proving itself to be the most comprehensive training method available. But many businesses are still holding out on taking the dive into this new type of training. Why? Perhaps because they think their traditional training methods are sufficient. The truth is, though, that great training makes employees more satisfied with their jobs. An About.com survey found that 38% of employees are dissatisfied because management does not provide enough direction and 12% are dissatisfied because policy or process changes that happen are not well communicated. 

 

Dissatisfaction is not just a feeling, either. It manifests in decreased employee engagement. When employees are satisfied they become more engaged in their jobs. They also create serious increases in profits. An ADP study found that engaged employees are 18% more productive, 12% more profitable, and create 22% more returns for shareholders. Disengaged and dissatisfied employees, on the other hand, leave jobs. For a company to replace an entry-level employee, it can cost up to 50% of their salary. In short, trained employees become satisfied and engaged, creating greater profits over the long-term and lowering recruiting expenses for the company. 

 

Who is Using mobile learning?

 

Mobile learning is not just an idea—it’s a tool that many companies are already busy putting into practice. Large businesses from various sectors, for instance, are already implementing it. 

Large fast food chains are using mobile training to show employees how to do each and every task. They provide documents, videos, and step-by-step guides that can be used to teach employees how to use the fry station, the cash register and more. Instead of employees spending 10 hours behind a computer screen at the back of the store, they can be learning the cleaning procedures as they clean and learning how to pack orders as they pack orders. 

But beyond fast-food and the restaurant industry, nearly half of the organizations in America have implemented mobile devices into employee training. And worldwide, in 2017, the mobile learning industry grew to be worth $12 billion. 

 

What are the latest mobile learning trends?

 

1. Training is more valued

 

Every generation sets itself apart. They each have their own strongly defined likes and dislikes. Millennials are no exception. And when it comes to what millennials like about jobs, many cite flexible training as a much-desired perk, a KPCB study finds. They would rather complete interactive training on their subway ride to work, than use their work time towards it. And they want it on the devices they prefer, making mobile learning the ideal training solution for companies. 

 

2. Personalization

 

For large companies that have multiple locations across the country or even around the world, standardized training can be too exhaustive. Not every location needs the same information. This is especially true when it comes to safety information (for instance, if a store is located in a tornado zone, it will have different safety instructions than a location in an earthquake area) as well as menu offerings or services sold. Employees simply do not need to know safety information that does not apply to them or learn about menu items that aren’t offered at their location.

This is where the trend of personalization in mobile learning comes in. Because every device now has an in-built GPS, a mobile learning platform can automatically detect an employee's geography and build a training program that is most appropriate for them. 

 

3. Analysis

 

What gets measured, gets improved. Companies are realizing that it is not enough to offer training courses and programs to their workforce, they also need to see how effective that training is. One of the best ways to do this is through analysis with technology like xAPI. This enables organizations to track their employees' progress on the training, see how much time they are spending on different aspects of the training, and much more. 

As technology marches on, workforce training methods will only grow in efficacy. For the foreseeable future, however, mobile learning is the way forward

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