Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Mobile Learning: The Perfect Partnership?

by | Mar 5, 2013 | Articles

In 2012, one of the major talking points in the learning community was mobile and a number of those conversations featured BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device.

The same was echoed in January, when we attended Learning Technologies 2013 and there it was clear that BYOD was going to be a hot topic for this year too.

But what is driving the demand? And what is holding organisations back?

Is BYOD the perfect partner for mobile learning?
First, we need to take a look at the user.

In a lot of ways, it is the user driving the BYOD phenomenon. They want to be able to use their own devices in the workplace and will be doing it whether an organisation supports it or not to some degree.

You only have to look at the numbers. In a 2012 OFCOM report, 60% of mobile adopters in the UK are using smart devices, with 35% of those surveyed using their device regularly for work activities when not at work. Another survey by KPMG shows that 71% of workplace learners think it is convenient to access training from mobile devices with 56% saying that they would be likely to access training resources outside of the workplace.

When you look at these 2 surveys, it becomes clear that there is a desire from users for BYOD and an excellent opportunity for organisations to capitalise on that desire when planning their learning and development.

Jane Hart, a Learning Consultant, frequently writes about developments in learning and made an interesting statement about the modern learner:

“An increasing number of the workforce –— smart, social, autonomous workers — are already doing their own thing and solving their own learning and performance problems much more quickly and more easily by using their own tools and devices.”

In 2011 Forrester predicted that the number of users self-provisioning technology would rise to a massive 60%. In the training arena, Jane Hart calls this BYOL, or Bring Your Own Learning. This is in line with another survey by Jensen & Kline who estimated between 1/3 and 2/3 of employees met their training needs by working around learning and development provision.
The user wants it, but what about organisations?

Within organisations we are seeing a rapid uptake of BYOD, using various technologies to manage the rollout of mobile.

However, while we are seeing the rapid adoption of BYOD, mobile is still approached with trepidation in organisations. In a 2011 survey by IMC and many subsequent surveys that have followed it, security is consistently ranked as one of the highest concerns for organisations, followed closely by concerns around deployment and content.

While the mobile market is still a juvenile one, tremendous advances have been made in enterprise grade mobile platforms. First came Mobile Device Management (MDM), but it quickly became clear that the technology was too restrictive to enable BYOD and the user did not feel comfortable with an organisation having a degree of control over their actual device. This is where Mobile Application Management (MAM) technologies came in to answer this very problem. Coupled with an enterprise app store, freedom is given to the user without the concern that there device is restricted by an organisation, with a dedicated portal for a user to access all apps and content that come from the organisation.

MAM technologies have evolved to the extent where they can control data only from the organisation, with all the security features an organisation would demand. The beauty of using MAM and enterprise app stores lays in the fact it is suitable for both corporate and personally owned devices, negating the need for MDM in the workplace.
MAM and enterprise app stores in learning

So we know that users want access to learning resources on their own devices and if we are not giving it to them, they are going around L&D provision to access information. By using these new technologies available to us, we can capitalise on the huge demand for BYOD, increase productivity and improve the effectiveness of our L&D provision.

Mobile presents us with another layer in which we can engage the employee. It is not just about focusing all resources on mobile, but about creating a blended approach, using mobile as an additional learning tool. Here are some examples:

  • I’m on my way to a meeting but I can’t remember the key points of a particular product. I am able to access the data sheets and a short video walkthrough of the product while on the train to my meeting.
  • I have a classroom based learning course tomorrow and I have some short pre-course tests to complete, I can do them while I have a coffee in the break room.
  • I am on a call and need to provide a piece of technical information; I am able to access the product app and training manuals through my enterprise app store on my tablet.

By implementing BYOD carefully, as suggested in our 5 top tips that we released at Learning Technologies 2013, we can add an extra dimension to our L&D provision. Using mobile as a platform for delivering short form and on demand learning, as well as supporting the formal learning process. This is what makes BYOD the perfect option for mobile learning, enabling more freedom and flexibility to users to learn at the point of need, not just when they are told to.

 

Article written by André Wigley
Andre Wigley is the CEO at Redware Limited, one of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors. Having 20 years experience in the tech sector working on everything from financial platforms to record breaking websites, he has concentrated on learning technologies for the last 10 years. Heading up the company, André is responsible for the vision and innovation of the business, setting the direction of its learning and award winning mobile platforms.

“Learning is a highly rewarding sector, it’s great to see our platforms help people gain new skills”
Redware Limited
Redware, based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire was founded in 1999. Now based at The Old School, the company employs around 50 people who work to deliver learning management systems and mobile platforms to leading global enterprises. Redware’s products are in use by leading automotive company Jaguar Land Rover, providing global learning and mobile platforms across a sophisticated dealership network.
“As a market leader in learning and mobile platforms we believe in a good day in the office, wherever you are. Our learning platforms empower businesses to learn their own way, while our award winning mobile platform liberates every business it touches. We are not on a mission, this is a new culture.”
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