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Derek Bishop

Culture Consultancy


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Engaging in mobile learning


“You can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry. Most people do”

Norton Juster

Stroll past a bus stop and click a QR code, play games or browse the news on your smartphone, chat to friends on your tablet, instant message with colleagues; millennial or not, you now live in the mobile era so why keep it out of the workplace?  Admittedly those pictures of puppies and kittens are cute, but what is a fleeting distraction when compared with the store of untapped wealth which is waiting a finger-swipe away.

In a time in which we now prefer to access our news via an app rather than via newspapers, in a time in which we expect always-on instant communications, shouldn’t the world of work reflect the world of daily life?  But there is a more profound reason for embracing the idea of mobile learning in the workplace and that is the way in which access to mobile learning can dramatically improve the engagement levels of employees.

Let’s pause and look at some hard facts. 

·         Every disengaged employee costs their organisation 46% in lost production

·         Companies with 9.3 engaged employees for every disengaged employee post earnings per share which are 147% higher than their competitors

Simply creating an organisational culture which values and encourages learning can make a huge difference to engagement levels.  And what better way to learn than through mobile learning?  In fact a survey carried out by BrandonHall Group in 2013 revealed that 100% of high-performing companies surveyed had adopted mobile learning in one form or another.  Those same organisations were also more likely to use mobile learning as a means of delivering video, class learning, assessment, performance support and, yes, games.  And why not games?  Games are the perfect medium for learning and for problem solving and what is wrong with having a little fun in the workplace?

Of course, mobile learning also has its serious side.  Nothing defeats proper process more than third hand knowledge.  In the ancient game of whispers, what one person clearly understands becomes gibberish by the time it has passed down the line.  Admittedly formal classroom training still has its place but only as one element of blended learning.  If an employee encounters a problem and can access the solution instantly then the chance of error leading to poor customer service is lessened.  And with m-learning also being used for mentoring, for performance reporting and for assessments the pattern of day to day interaction within the workplace can be transformed.

So what are the options for organisations which are thinking of dipping their toes in the mobile learning waters?  Those starting out may decide simply to provide access to widely available training modules from companies such as People Alchemy or Skill Pill.  The next step is to start to develop your own training materials, perhaps hosting them on an internal app store.  Just make sure you have sufficient band with available though as when employees start to cotton on to the possibilities, the use of apps will rise exponentially.  Witness the BrandonHall survey which reported that once mobile apps had been in use for two years or more 89% of respondents rated them as very or extremely effective.

The internet, tablets and smart phones have brought us to a time in which we are afloat in a sea of knowledge.  Adopting a scattergun approach or closing out access to that knowledge base marks organisations out for failure.  Conversely creating a strong organisational culture which values and opens up access to learning leads to engaged employees and improved customer outcomes. 

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Derek Bishop


Read more from Derek Bishop

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