“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest", goes a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin. Every word in this quote rings true, especially in context of corporate training, which not just helps in imparting essential on-the-job know-how, but also shapes the employees' careers and the organization's success.
Considering that corporate training is an essential business enabler, what does the current research say about the state of corporate training, especially Mobile Learning, in India?
Mobile Learning has assumed a seminal importance in the workplace because of the convenience that it brings to the whole learning process. As per Towards Maturity's InFocus Report: "Mobile Learning at Work", 47% of organizations currently use mobile devices in their training programs with 67% of organizations now offering Mobile Learning in some form. While these stats may not be India focussed, Indian corporates are singing the same song, perhaps a slightly different, toned down, tune. By now, it is clear that the ubiquitous mobile devices are not just communication devices anymore but channels for interactions and learning.
Supporting this is a survey that says that 99% of mobile users believe that mLearning has enhanced their experience. Clubbing together an LMS – one of the strongest tools of imparting corporate training – and mLearning is that secret ingredient that boosts performance and productivity. Organisations across the globe, and in India too, are leveraging the power of the Mobile LMS.
But sample this: according to a CNN Tech report last year, India has nearly 900 million people who do not have access to the Internet. While few public Wi-Fi spots exist, broadband and Wi-Fi connections even in urban areas come with fluctuating speed. Mobile Internet connections often don’t live up to the speed and coverage promises. The report quotes a spokesperson for Internet and Mobile Association of India as saying that, “Across India, the connections are patchy. 3G normally works at the speed of 2G.” There are also other logistical issues like no internet connectivity on airlines, in remote locations, rural areas etc.
So, how does Mobile Learning with all its unprecedented opportunities work in these cases? This is where Offline Learning comes into picture. Offline Learning means that learners can download the desired training resources on their local mobile storage, oftentimes their own mobile phones, ahead of time, when access to Internet connection is available. They can then access these resources, multiple times at their convenience, while on a plane or in a remote area with no Internet connectivity. Another important point to note here is, "by 2017, half of the world’s employers may impose a mandatory BYOD policy — requiring employees to bring their own laptop, tablet or smartphone to work", as per a recent report from Gartner, “Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future”. This necessitates the need of a learning platform that is compatible with the employees' device and can work well in all conditions.
So, with the option of an offline LMS or one that can be used even in the absence of an Internet connection, Mobile Learning as a method of acquiring knowledge and skills on the go in an informal environment can work fabulously. The premise on which the success of eLearning and LMS depends is how actively learners and users are participating in the whole experience. Once they are in the driver’s seat, it is easier to meet the learning objectives of the training programme. Mobile Learning offers this experience to the users and allows them to utilise the LMS as per their time schedules, geographical locations and needs.
Here are some superlative benefits of a Mobile LMS to help learners, especially those participating remotely, to make optimum use of the training.
Provides Anytime, Anywhere, On-The-Go Access
Today’s learners have busy schedules and it may not always be possible for them to take time out for a training programme. An LMS that fits "their" schedule works best because it allows them to drive their learning decisions rather than binding them in a time-frame. Mobile LMSs allow them to access the courses whenever they are free, at any location (not necessarily while being in the office) and most importantly on-the-go (in the bus, train, airplane). Since content is also available offline, this flexibility leads to greater learner engagement.
Offers Need-Based, On-Demand Training
A skill gap is best plugged right when there is a pressing need rather than waiting for a proper time to schedule a training session to fill the gap. Companies are often guilty of lining up trainings as per their convenience rather than the needs and requirements of the employees. A Mobile LMS provides the opportunity to deploy resources during the need and demand of learners.
Can be Accessed on Any Device of Choice
Everyone has a particular device they find easy to use and are most comfortable with especially when it comes to accessing a training programme. This could be a tablet, smartphone, laptop or any other device.
A Mobile LMS, being an app that's easily downloadable from the App store, gives learners the freedom to use their preferred device rather than taking the programme on a dedicated training terminal or on their work-based machine. Since they are already familiar with their devices, there is neither the need to get around its workings nor wait for a bay to be available to participate in the programme.
Offers a Wide Range of Learning Content
Mobile Learning has facilitated training resources that serve the different needs of different learners. In other words, learners now have access to knowledge in a format that's easier for them to understand and assimilate. A Mobile LMS offers support for learning content like videos, courses and reference materials including documents, presentations and images that are packaged according to interoperable standards such as SCORM and HTML 5.
Improves Recall and Retention
An eLearning course aims at not just imparting information but also ensuring that learners are able to use and apply it in the real world. Mobile LMS platforms help to improve knowledge retention and recall by making learning more convenient, accessible and personalized. They use different techniques that aid recall value and enable learners to retain the knowledge and relate to it in a practical context.
Provides a Continuous Learning Experience
A Mobile LMS goes a long way in providing a seamless and continuous learning experience. To begin with, it provides the required courses offline by allowing learners to download them to their respective devices. An important feature here is that once the courses are downloaded, they can be accessed offline with complete tracking done once synced back to the LMS. This aspect of synchronizing with the LMS at certain intervals when the internet connectivity is available ensures that all offline training activity undertaken by learners can be tracked providing them with an uninterrupted, seamless learning experience.
For a country like India, where mobile penetration is to the tune of a billion people, with over 300 million connected to the Internet, Mobile Learning through a Mobile LMS can truly become the 'learning' way of life. With a large ilk of new-age learners, technology-driven learning is already taking giant strides to bring a qualitative and quantitative difference in corporate training.