Making Mobile Learning a Success: 5 Real-Life Practical Examples

by | Apr 11, 2016 | 0 comments

Ian Baxter explores how to make mobile learning a success and references 5 great real-life customer examples of how it can be harnessed at the point of need.

The Way We Learn Today

Want to find out about something or learn a new skill? Then 9 times out of 10 you probably use Google search or a favorite app or a direct inquiry on YouTube. So whether you are looking for tips to help you on a do-it-yourself weekend project, or a new exercise routine – your learning has become social, simple and accessible when and where you need it.

But when it comes to the workplace, accessibility to key learning that’s easy to use and available at the point of need often does not match with your experience at home. In fact, leading global research bears this out. In its 2015 Global Human Capital Trends report, Deloitte found that 85% of HR and business leaders say learning is one of the top three issues they are contending with in the workplace. So it not a surprise that the demand for learning has increased by 21% in just 12 months.

Looking back to the 1990’s e-learning was leading the charge, helping companies scale access to desktop learning while dramatically cutting spending on travel for in-person classes. I believe that the next quantum leap in business learning is making learning a truly mobile experience. And, by mobile, we mean so much more than simply giving access to your existing learning content on a mobile device. This article aims to highlight through real Saba customer experiences, the major benefits individuals, teams and organisation’s can achieved by making learning truly mobile.

Micro-Learning: Good Things Come in Small Packages

So what mobile learning isn’t – it isn’t making all of your existing training content available through a smartphone or tablet device. In fact, that could be counter-productive to your efforts because you’ll be asking your people to pinch and expand dense amounts of content through a small 2.5 x 4.75-inch screen. That’s just not practical or acceptable.

At its most effective, mobile or ‘micro-learning’ is used for point-of-need training to meet a skill or knowledge gap. For example, consider on-demand troubleshooting tips for a technician dispatched to a customer site, or short “bites” of role-level insight for a retail assistant to learn new aspects about the inventory at his or her store. The applications are boundless and because it can be consumed quickly, then employees can always find time to do this.

As these examples show, for mobile learning to work, the content needs to be scaled to the task and not just the device. It needs to be short, simple and easy to understand.

General rules of thumb for micro-learning:

  • Replace detailed papers with short bullet points
  • Replace telling with “showing”
  • Replace words with images
  • Replace multiple versions of a concept with a “single view of the truth”
  • Replace lecture with interactivity

While the move to mobile will require Learning and Development (L&D) teams to review their most critical content and either streamline or rework it, there is a silver lining.  Training content for mobile learning doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) come just from the L&D group. In fact, some of the highest impact sources of informal learning can come from peers and subject-matter experts within the organization – content that needs to be as easy to share as uploading a video to YouTube.

Mobile Learning in Action: Five Best-Practice Use Cases

The following examples show how Saba’s customers have harnessed the power of mobile learning to uniquely deliver a different level of agility to organisations large and small and to their teams, partners and customers alike.

1. Globalise Learning (Hyatt Hotels)

Global hotel and hospitality leader Hyatt Hotels supports 11 different brands, each with its own unique customer experience, from full-service business travel to family-friendly vacations and boutique destination getaways. At the same time, the company needs to ensure that the manner they demonstrate care for their guests is consistent across its brands around the world.

Hyatt “socialises” its training by delivering content through a learning management system that hosts on-brand content, development, and even learning workgroups to share insights across brands, geographies and languages. To do this, the global learning team took a close look at mobile content, since the vast majority of their colleagues work outside a dedicated office every day. One of their bigger breakthroughs was to create mobile image-based content for core tasks required within in a hotel -without words. Their all-visual micro-content covers a range of topics from making a bed, to pouring wine. This image-based mobile learning removes both access and language barriers at once. As a result, Hyatt team members worldwide are better enabled to learn in their work environment and are starting to self-subscribe to more mobile content to extend their skills.

Mobile learning content should be contextually compelling. Read the Hyatt Hotelscase study

2. Democratise Learning (Dell)

Over many years of growth, computer giant Dell had amassed an equally giant collection of training materials about its products: nearly 12 million pages of training documentation. In an effort to improve the impact of its training content and the efficiency of nearly 475,000 users, the Dell learning team took a hard look at streamlining the whole delivery of learning. Key areas of focus on the quantity and presentation of its content to make it equally easy to find and to use, from anywhere and on any device, for anyone, regardless of their role with Dell. One example: the L&D team created quick troubleshooting videos corresponding to a QR code attached to each piece of Dell equipment. Now, users can just scan the tag on the device and they are immediately linked to a short video of how-to’s with access to a host of related links. Mobile learning at Dell is now as easy as: Scan, Learn, Do.

Mobile learning needs to be intuitive. Watch the Dell video.

3. Socialise Learning (Property Management)

A large and fast-growing residential property management company recognised a need to quickly and regularly communicate ever-changing regulatory information to its community managers across the U.S. The legal team was able to use a central learning system to share national context for all and also post regional and local content in digital learning workgroups where it was appropriate. In the process, they recognised that the same system could power “group genius” as well, and began to encourage all its employees to share expertise for the leverage of the broader organisation.

Empowered with some gamification, which shows likes, impressions, points and even badges for great user-generated content, the company now has a quickly growing repertoire of short, mobile-friendly videos, articles, blogs and ideas from the company’s subject-matter experts. The topics range from the marketing team’s new brand message sound bites to the maintenance crew’s video uploads of ‘How to glaze a bathtub’. Showcasing the company’s pockets of expertise encourages everyone to share – right from their tablets and smartphones. And it’s as easy as posting on YouTube.

Mobile learning at its best helps employees learn as well as teach. Watch the Saba customer video.

4. No Internet? No Problem. Offline Mobile Learning! (Air Canada)

We’ve all experienced the downside of air travel: missed flights, layovers, and weather-related travel delays. And when it comes to business productivity, there’s also the intermittent access to the Internet both on and off the plane. That downside applies to airline flight crews as well.

Air Canada’s learning and development team has recently mobile-enabled pilot training for compulsory recurrent training and continuing education topics, making its content short and easy to access on the fly, when its pilots are waiting at an airline terminal or when they are on crew rest. And they’ve even planned around Murphy’s Law when it comes to Internet access by choosing a learning platform that enables offline content and testing that will automatically sync when reconnected.

Mobile learning should be available, regardless of where you are and whether or not you have Internet access. See the Air Canada video.

5. Bridge the Generational Gap: From Gen Y to Grandmas (Countrywide)

Countrywide PLC is a leader in residential real estate property services across the UK. Part of its continued growth in a highly regulated industry is via industry acquisition. As a result, the learning team does quite a bit of new-hire orientation training in addition to continuing regulatory training and skills development. In order to scale its efforts, Countrywide hosts all of its training materials online in a cloud-based system and prides itself on empowering its team to be self-sufficient in finding the bite-sized training they need, when they need it.

At a recent onboarding session for a newly acquired team, a 78-year-old office worker asked the learning leader how the company preferred expense reports to be filed. He encouraged her to look in the learning system to find the answer. So, she asked to borrow the iPad of the young woman sitting next to her in the conference room, did a quick search on expense reports, found short instructions, filled out the form, and submitted it in a few keystrokes.

Good mobile learning works for learners of all ages. See the Countrywide case study.


Find out more about how Saba’s Mobile capabilities can help you

Saba’s mobile capability supports all aspects of our intelligent Talent Management suite ensuring that your employees, partners and customers can benefit from the immense capability in Saba Cloud anywhere and at any time, as and when they need to.

Download the Saba Mobile product brief now.

Ian Baxter is Vice President of Marketing, EMEA and is always delighted and amazed at the way Saba customers harness our technology to do great things for their organisations; and are willing to share their successes with others. Saba is a leading provider of cloud-based intelligent Talent Management solutions.  

Saba is a longstanding Towards Maturity Ambassador.

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