Let’s Get Serious About Mobile Learning and Performance Support!

One of the amazing ways to learn is mobile learning. I think it’s great that someone who is 200 miles away from their desk can easily go to their smartphone and learn or get the support they need from it. The implications for performance support are staggering for so many professions, not just the typical corporate sales, marketing, etc. So many people can benefit from mobile learning as a performance support tool.

Here’s a thought: an electrician who has been in business for 15 years has a challenging job today. He must change a bulb that if not done correctly, will blow the breaker for an entire warehouse that is producing retail items for stores causing a major production loss. Instead of that electrician taking a chance on memory he can go to his mobile device and watch a video of an electrician change that exact bulb correctly and then he can change it himself. Or he can view steps to replace the bulb successfully. The great part about this piece of performance support is that it’s right there when he needs it, at the moment of need. Additionally, once he watches the video or views the steps, he might not need to access that content again because now he remembers how to change that bulb because he has completed three replacements already.

If we go about our day and start to count how many times we Google something we don’t know whether it’s a recipe or a fact about a person in the news, or how to get rid of fruit flies (personal experience), we access this content at the moment of need. Once we get what we need, it is unlikely that we will need to access the content again once we have encoded this knowledge into our working memory. So I start to think about what forms does this come in? I can say that when I didn’t know something that I needed to complete my job I did Google it. But for more specific and organizationally mandated content, companies will have to develop this in-house.

One of the ways we as learning professionals can start deciding on whether mobile will be effective is knowing what the context of this support or learning the performer will need and how they get it. Mobile is great as a performance support tool, but that’s not all! We need to decide if mobile is the right solution to the problem. We should’t start investing in making all of our content mobile ready because probably half of it will not be used. That being said, mobile is anything that is not a desktop in an office and stationed. So a laptop, tablet and smartphone are all devices for mobile. But the context of what the learner will need and how they are going to get it is more important than how it’s being delivered. Once we know what context the learner will be in, we can then decide the appropriate medium for the solution.

I think when an organization says they are mobile-ready this should mean they have identified several opportunities where mobile can be a successful solution. It should’t mean that they are going to take all the eLearning courses in their LMS and make then accessible from a smartphone through an app. They should have a plan of how the content will get to the learner and quickly.

Their are some great opportunities for mobile to be integrated into a learning solution. Mobile can also be just one component of the learning solution. What it really comes down to is making sure that we identify gap in performance or the learning opportunity. If mobile doesn’t fit the bill then that is ok, as long as we are doing our due diligence to the learner by giving them what they need to succeed and not just creating a solution for mobile’s sake.

We recently had a #lrnchat last Thursday and the topic was on the Forgetting Curve. A great way to reinforce learning is the use of performance support. Due to the fact that training is viewed as an event, the forgetting curve kicks in and the learner cannot recall what they have learned during the training session. Another great implication for not just mobile, but performance support in general is that it now becomes part of the learning “process”.  Instead of having the single or 3-day training event with no follow up, we can give our learners performance support to combat the forgetting curve and also give more value to how we provide solutions. They can continue to build on what was learned during the training event or course. A entire training event may not even be needed!

As a side note, wearable technology is another great opportunity for performance support and learning. The Apple Watch was unveiled this month. It will be exciting to see what this will bring to our profession. I promise this is not the beginning of “wLearning” (Sorry David Kelly, I used it!) I am still so amazed how quickly everything is changing with how we gather and learn information, perform, and share curated content.

I would love to know what everyone else is doing and talking about in the mobile area and performance support. If you have a comment or would like to add your thoughts, please add to the comments below or tweet me and we can open up the conversation.

LEARNHAUS

WC

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