Mobile Learning May Not Be The Answer For Corporate Training

Mobile Learning Challenges - Mobile Learning May Not Be The Answer For Corporate Training
Dusan Petkovic/
Summary: mLearning may not be ideal for everybody, as there are enough mobile learning challenges being met when it comes to corporate training.

Mobile Learning Challenges For Corporate Training

Mobile learning, well, it’s not for everybody. The world has been disrupted, shaken up, and turned upside down thanks to the massive adoption of technology in practically every aspect of our lives. And I am not against it. As a matter of fact, I love it! But this doesn’t mean that squeezing all of your company’s training content into a tiny touchscreen format will solve all of your training woes.

What Is Mobile Learning?

Xyleme says that "Mobile learning, also called mLearning, is education or training that is conducted on and delivered through portable devices like smartphones and tablets."

At first glance, combining the mobile devices that have become a way of life for the 21st-century citizen and corporate training, seems to make perfect sense. The learner most likely has a smartphone, eliminating equipment costs for the company, and if the program is intuitive enough they shouldn’t have to be trained too thoroughly on how to use it.

Slipping training in with the array of resources that the learner uses every day seems like a great way to meet the learner where they are, adapt to their lifestyle, and increase motivation and engagement.

But Is It Really That Simple?

I am not here to argue about the benefits that smartphones and tablets have provided the wider public, or that mobile learning is effective and efficient.

Mobile learning simply is not applicable to each and every corporate situation. So to jump on the bandwagon and shift your entire training and development strategy to be responsive to mobile devices may not be the wisest decision.

Things To Consider

Many company cultures have tried endlessly to limit (ultimately eliminate) the use of mobile devices on company time. Yes, your training program will be downloaded on a shiny new app—but so will Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and countless other distractions that learners could easily slip into during "training time". How will you ensure that the company time that you schedule for mLearning will be honored? In what ways will the conversation around workplace distractions change?

And this is only the case for positions where the use of mobile devices aren’t considered a safety hazard or are just impractical based on the role. The bus driver, teacher, cashier, sales associate, mail person, server, doctor, dentist, fast food employee...the list goes on! Field employees are less likely to be able to pull out their phone during the work day and complete a ten-minute microlearning course on company compliance.

So what is the expectation? For the employee to complete the training at home? Sure, it’s easy to bet that they will have their mobile devices with them, and more than likely will be on them. But if the employee is paid hourly… do you think that asking them to complete an unpaid training during their time off is the best way to engage and motivate them?

Mobile Learning In The Workplace

Yes, in theory, mobile learning is a great idea.

But before we jump the gun in hopes of reaching the success of popular social media and public learning apps, we have to truly consider the reality of the everyday experiences of the company’s employees. When will they be able to pull out their phones without compromising the quality of their work or take away from their interactions with customers and team members? What techniques can Instructional Designers and eLearning developers utilize to ensure the learner is comprehending the information and increasing their knowledge, changing their attitudes, and improving their behaviors? How can mobile learning be integrated with the tasks that employees have to complete? Is it truly fair to ask employees to take their training home with them? And if they don't, is that the price for their jobs?

We have to look beyond the statistics of mobile data usage, Instagram and Facebook user counts, and mobile device purchases made over the past 10 years. The success of these entities is their own. To reach their audience, social media sites have developed a brand new culture with a foundation in the use of mobile devices. Many corporate training departments have a different challenge in determining a way to fit the use of mobile devices into existing cultures.

Mobile learning is still evolving and trying to find its place in the corporate training setting. We will just have to see how things play out in the end.