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Mobilising your training programme


Matt Pierce discusses how trainers can adapt existing training content for use in a mobile learning programme.   
As mobile devices have evolved from netbooks to smartphones and tablet devices, lead by Apple’s iPad, PC sales across the world have already been impacted. Mobile phone and smartphones are owned by a significant majority of consumers in the Western world, and tablets are not lagging behind by any means.
In the next few years mobile devices may become as commonplace in the average office and home as their desktop counterparts.

Shifting expectations

Trainers will need to adjust or update the way content is created and distributed in order to remain on top of their game in this new digital, portable, "always on" m-learning landscape.
Those learners using mobile devices are becoming increasingly comfortable with them for both work and personal usage – be it checking email when out of office, playing a game on the commute home or simply browsing the web.
"Video is the ideal for m-learning. Video learning content can be viewed and reviewed by trainees and, importantly, takes advantage of the ability to watch video "anywhere, anytime" on a mobile device."
With this change taking place, trainees will soon be expecting work-related materials, and subsequently training and development materials, to be available on a mobile device. This presents an opportunity for trainers to use such devices as a medium to deliver training.
Adapting training styles and developing learning content in line with the evolving technology is crucial for any trainer looking to take advantage of mobile take-up.

Developing engaging mobile learning content

Video is the ideal medium for m-learning. Video learning content can be viewed and reviewed by trainees and, importantly, takes advantage of the ability to watch video "anywhere, anytime" on a mobile device. Ultimately, this presents trainers with an opportunity to engage with learners on devices they are already fond of.  
There are already a number of training materials and resources available on the web, which can be viewed on smartphones and tablet devices through a web browser or dedicated application (app). Apps for popular video sites such as YouTube, VideoJug and Dailymotion, allow users to view any learning content available on the sites.
However, the majority of these videos are either user-generated or related to a specific topic or course. As such, while they may prove to be useful resources within a wider training programme, trainers should not rely solely on these sites to provide the mobile learning content they require.   

Developing m-learning content

There is a wealth of training materials online, both professional and user generated, that have been created using screencasting software. Screencasting, or screen recording, allows users to create video recordings of a computer screen with a voice recording of the presenter narrating onscreen activity.
A trainer can use such software to create their own training videos that specifically link to established training programme or programmes. With videos created, they can be viewed on a learner’s mobile device and take full advantage of the technology. The videos can also be uploaded to online video sites, such as those noted above, meaning learners can access them at any time. 

Adapting your training programme to mobile

Updating an existing training programme can require a trainer to invest time and energy in creating videos suitable for mobile devices. Once the bulk of the work is completed, the videos should continue to be valuable resources for the lifetime of the training course.
A good first step in mobilising an existing programme is to capture any training presentations delivered by the trainer on PowerPoint, or similar programme, using screencast software. Trainers can use the software to record the screen when presenting, and simultaneously record their voice narration. This essentially creates a digital version of the presentation. The screencast can also be edited to include a recording of the trainer, if the learner will benefit from seeing the presenter in action.      
Screencasting can also be used to create recordings of software programs, websites or applications. This creates a tutorial style video that walks learners through a new or unfamiliar software program or online resource.
Developing these videos does not require the creation of any new materials, trainers simply need to deliver training in front of a computer instead of a room full of learners. Some may be lucky and get it in one take - but most will take a couple of run-throughs before being perfect.
Video recordings can be viewed by learners either as a learning aid following a formal training session or in advance of formal session. The benefits of providing learning content in advance of formal sessions, a process called flipping, have already been discussed. Mobile learning is certainly an aspect of training that can facilitate this approach.

Highs and lows of mobile learning

The primary benefit of mobile learning is providing learning resources on an on-demand basis. Whether a training course took place a week or a year ago, trainees can refer to mobile learning resources whenever they require and review a presentation as if it were being delivered for the first time. This provides a high level of consistency in learning, while also reducing the amount of follow-up required by the trainer.
Mobile learning can also reduce the amount of time learners spend away from their desks. Reviewing a training presentation at a time that suits them, perhaps even on the train to work, offers a more convenient method of delivering training content than finding a time to hold a formal training session for multiple individuals. 
This does not mean trainers should abandon all other learning in favour of mobile learning. The individual skill sets of learners must be kept front of mind, ensuring there is a balance between making the most of emerging technologies and presenting learners with a training medium that suits their requirements.
The training and development process should always focus on the learner first, rather than on new technology.
Matt Pierce is training manager at TechSmith Corporation, specialising in aiding trainers in creating effective training materials. For more information please visit  

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