Top Tips On Best Device Decisions For Planning Successful Mobile Learning Projects
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How To Make The Best Device Decisions For Planning A Successful Mobile Learning Project

It’s hard to ignore the lightning speed by which mobile has become an essential part of our fast-paced lives. Still, some believe (wrongly) that mobile is mostly just a technology for playing games and checking the weather or a bank balance. In fact, mobile provides some of the most sophisticated computing power available, while also being extremely accessible and even fun to use.

According to recent research by Digital Strategy Consulting, more than 60% of employees are already using work-related apps for their jobs. Expect that number to increase super fast as millennials make their way into the workforce and up to leadership levels.  98% of Millennials own smartphones, but according to a recent survey by the Public Relations Society of America, a full 48% of them voiced concern that their employers were not implementing digital workplace communication effectively.

This could mean that your employees are already moving on mobile, while your Learning and Development division might not yet be making use of it.  As a Learning Director, if you approach mobile learning projects properly, you can take advantage of the great resource that mobile offers - right at your fingertips.

Since the category of mobile spans across multiple technologies (smartphones, tablets, minis, smartwatches), it can be difficult to make device decisions. For instance: Should your company provide devices or should you implement a BYOD (bring your own device) policy?

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to each approach, including a hybrid solution that might help you get started even faster with your first successful mobile learning projects.

Deploying Learning On Company-Owned Devices

Pros

Because the company bears the cost of devices, maintenance and software, many employees find this option appealing. Additionally, employees don’t have to use their own data which adds another cost benefit to them. When your company controls the device, you can also avoid a complicated mix of apps and devices that, from a technical support perspective, can be difficult to manage.

Cons

Devices become obsolete fast.  This means that you will need to include a device replacement plan in your budget. For example, if you had bulk purchased the iPad 2 when it went on sale for the last time in late 2013 and distributed it within your workforce, you would now be cursing its slow processor and possibly be dealing with frequent crashes. You would be frustrated with its inability to update the operating system and, eventually, apps that you couldn’t install or update. An older device might still function for some work uses, but many apps are optimized for new devices. In other words, technology becomes outdated quickly, and you could potentially house and maintain many obsolete mobile devices.

Allowing Employees To Use Their Own Mobile Devices

Pros

There are many advantages to using employees’ personal devices in the workplace. Employees are already familiar with their own mobile technology as they use it on a daily, personal basis. They also have constant access to their devices and they are not tied in to the workplace itself. Their work becomes portable, and employee availability (if desired) can increase.

Cons

Some employees may be resistant to using data on their devices, and others may be worried about viruses compromising their device’s security. Many employers are concerned that allowing employees to use their mobile devices at work will result in lower productivity. However, according to the VMware State of Business Mobility Report, the introduction of mobile technologies was found to increase employee productivity by 45%.

A Hybrid Solution

At Practi mobile LMS, we have seen a lot of successes with customers who have implemented a hybrid solution, where possible. This mixed approach to choosing devices for mobile learning incorporates employees using their own devices if they would like (including an effective BYOD policy), while also providing company-owned devices for people who prefer not to use their own devices. Practi customers that offer this type of mobile device flexibility are able to host very successful mobile learning projects.

Do You Need To Write A BYOD Policy?

How should you start thinking about creating and implementing a BYOD policy? These policies can be very different based on the size of your company. If you are a small or medium company that hasn’t yet created a BYOD policy, it can be a good idea to start with your mobile learning project first and design the policy around the project.

Once you have decided where you would like to fit mobile within your learning and development, you can create your policy for that particular project. When the project is complete and you are assessing its success, be sure to assess whether the BYOD policy you created covered all aspects of mobile usage. In this way, you can create a BYOD policy that suits your company, your team, and your use of mobile in training. In short, let the project lead the policy, and then expand the policy as the projects expand.

Implement Your BYOD Policy First With Leadership

The individual successes of employees depend on the management strategies set in place by companies.  Training only works when it is embedded and made visible in the leadership team. Organizational systems shape employee perspectives and behavior, and so the leadership team must be trained in new policies and systems for others to become motivated. As a result, it is important to choose a project that involves the leadership team. Some suggestions for establishing an effective BYOD within leadership teams are:

  • Choose a subject for the training that has high impact for your learning group and is engaging and will draw their attention.
  • Choose a short project that can be completed by learners in about two weeks so that your start-to-finish assessment of your mobile learning project can be done quickly and possibly repeated.
  • Remember to use good change management principles throughout the planning and implementation of the project, even if it seems like a smaller project. Using mobile can be a big change for many people and helping your team transition to mobile is as important as positive learning outcomes.

Involve Your Team In BYOD Policy

It is also important to target a diverse group within your company, if possible. Including your team in establishing BYOD policy is important to ensure a successful first mobile training project.  If you want to venture into the bold and innovative realm, why not use training on the BYOD policy itself as your first mobile training project.

If you are able to write a short BYOD policy that suits just your first project and you have chosen the LMS with which you would like to deliver the training, you might want to begin by training your team on the BYOD policy itself. This way, you can get feedback on their mobile usage, work with your team to discover whether there are missing items in your policy, and start the conversation around how you will move to mobile.

Whether you choose company or employee owned devices, or a hybrid of the two, it’s best to choose a simple first learning project, design good policy around that project, and move toward including mobile in your learning programs.

At Practi, we’ve helped customers with thousands of distributed learners use the tips described in this article to move their employees quickly over to mobile and to do so in a way that suits their team and sets them up for future successful mobile learning projects.

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