From Classroom to Mobile Training & Assessment

Why shift to mobile training?

Millions of employees are trained each day in all major corporates in a classroom based environment. Such trainings might be effective, but would cost crazy and will take months in execution. Now imagine you have a distributed workforce in say about 12 cities or you are onboarding new employees in 10 different locations at the same time. It would be unnerving for not only you, the administrator, but also the trainer and the finance team as well. Too much money would be spent, too much management required and too little tracking of who learnt what.

All the major companies, maybe yours too, need to comply with certain regulations while delivering such trainings regularly. The employees, on the other hand, are expected to consume these trainings within the office hours along with all the work that they have to get done. And it is not that the employee has to master the ‘code of conduct’ or learn ‘company ethics’ or ‘the sexual harassment policy’ by heart. S/he simply needs to know about it, and pull out the requisite info as and when required.

E-learning / m-learning is the most obvious solution for such sort of trainings. Where the trainings are available to the employees at all times and can be pulled out at a time convenient for the employee to consume it, from wherever s/he is, and is easily tracked by the concerned person from anywhere on any device.

How to shift to mobile training

But investing in technology without taking the time to unpack the user experience in mind is one of the biggest mistake corporates tend to make. When you begin to envision your strategies around the implementation of mobile technology in learning, quality of user experience should be taken as the final measure of success, because if your employee does not enjoy it or learns from it, then no technology is of any use, thus making it very important to understand how the user experiences the mobile learning.

One of the most important part of maintaining good user experience is to have the right and engaging content. Many corporates when going for mobile training (or plain vanilla e-learning) simply tend to use their instructor led training material (power point/ documents etc.) on mobile platforms, without thinking about how impactful would such a content piece be, when consumed separately.

Here are a few challenges and things that one should keep in mind while designing the content for a better user experience on mobile.

Mobile training challenges:

  • No personal interaction with the trainer – Which makes it important for the content to be as self-explanatory as possible , not boring as possible and visually appealing
  • Short attention span – Brain is constantly bombarded with phone calls, messages, emails and knows that one could do something else right at that moment leading to a short attention span. So the content should not only be engaging by motivating the user to complete the course throughout the journey
  • Missing knowledge – power point presentation in classrooms only consist of fraction of knowledge, which becomes complete with trainers explanation. They cannot function as a standalone learning material

So in order to be successful, developers must create mobile learning courses that gains and sustains the attention of a user and can compete against distractions. Pointers to be kept in mind to make a smooth transition from instructor led training material to mobile based training material

1. Firstly, what do you have right now?

Examine the material available to you. Power point presentation that works well in a classroom might lose its significance without a trainer / presenter. Does the current classroom training material transfer well to a mobile format? Will you trainees gain as much or more from such a training? All these considerations might point you towards a blended learning approach. So have clarity on what you want your trainees trained on and how?

2. Structuring the course is under rated! Get that right!

You want your learning to create an impact on your trainee – employee, vendor, customer or anyone involved. Most of the first impressions (many a times, the last impression) are related to the look, design and appearance of the training. Good content is of no use if it is navigated through a poorly designed course layout. So keep the following points in mind while structuring your course to make that good first impression:

  • Avoid frustrating the user with simple and clear navigation
  • Clear visuals , make use of color palette
  • Make the content searchable / easy to reach

3. In this visual world, no one will see powerpoint presentations with cliparts

Imagine a user like you or me, used to playing a game on mobile, suddenly shifts to a learning course that displays nothing but black and white slide deck one after another. And now, imagine the same training with videos, hotspots and synced assessments with visuals. Engaging your trainee right from the beginning will ensure a sure shot completion (Image + Example). Here are some points you could keep in mind while creating the content.

  • Content that engages: Combination of various types of content could be used to make the course engaging and hence retain the trainee. Diversified presentation formats, storytelling, content that involves the user emotionally, adding personal elements and situations that users can identify with would help too. Empathising with characters, scenarios, daily life situations will help to sustain their interest. Content types could be Video + Scenarios + Simulation, Assessments, Walk through, Imfographics
  • Keep mobile in mind – Navigation happens with a finger on mobile screen, so the usage should be clear, concise and consistent in terms of navigation. The course should be easy to use and have interfaces that are intuitive and task oriented, such that a user can reach to his destination with a few clicks. Visual cues, such as color etc also have a strong impact and can influence a user’s usage.
  • Avoid information over loading – Content overload should be avoided and should be made for shorter attention span – bit sized content. A research conducted by Yahoo in late 2011 confirmed that users engage in short activity burts. It showed that fifty-three percent of them say they snack on content during the day. But this “snacking” happens in chunks—a little bit of activity here, a little bit there. Learners just want to receive information quickly and process it rapidly.
  • Use Interactivity of devices to your benefit – With courses being deployed on mobile, real-time polls, games, interactive diagrams, exploration screens, hot spot and drag and drop exercises, and interactive video, where clicking on areas in the video leads to more information can and should be done to make the course more engaging. Having said all of this, these interactions should be used thought fully and sparingly as loading the same can be an issue too.

So here were a few suggestions on why you should go mobile and what you could keep in mind while converting your existing content for mobile. You could check out Capabiliti by Qustn, which along with having its own mobile learning platform, offers content solutions and helps you convert your existing trainings into a mobile friendly format.

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