Learning Management Systems have come a long way since their inception. Now with their support for Offline (no Internet) training, they are set to future-proof an organization's training interventions and how!
According to the 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends research2, '83% of companies rate Digital Learning as important and 54% rate it urgent, up 11% from last year.' But what is 'Digital Learning' anyway? In the words of Josh Bersin, "Digital Learning does not mean learning on your phone, it means 'bringing learning to where employees are'. "
And the employees are on the go!
'The Mobile Workforce is going to double or triple in size by the year 2018.3, as per a research by Gartner, with '70% of on-the-go professionals proposed to take care of business on their personal mobile devices.4
So while it's true that mobile usage is on the rise and almost everyone owns at least one connected device, or is connected to the Internet in some way, for learners that lack adequate Internet connectivity, accessing uninterrupted training becomes a challenge.
Up until now.
The Learning Management System has come a long way. From its humble beginnings as the automatic intelligence testing machine, way back in 1924, to now complementing learning platforms, used for administering, managing and reporting, with 'Learning Experience Platforms' 1, complete with support for MOOCs, micro-learning, VR, LRS (xAPI) and more, the LMS has embraced the latest technologies, always staying in sync with the times. The latest addition being 'Offline' or no-Internet Learning.
By why an Offline Mobile LMS in today’s era of 3G, 4G and 5G connections, you may ask.
Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report5 indicates that 'Internet users in many countries – notably India – still suffer from disappointingly slow connections via both fixed and mobile services.' Further, connectivity issues are more pronounced in certain field jobs where the employees have to spend considerable amount of time at oil rigs, mines etc. where network connections are absent or unreliable. In such situations, providing training or performance support through a web-based Learning Management System that fetches data from its servers only in the online state becomes impractical.
In some other cases, the employees are reluctant to consume training using their personal data services where costs are to be borne by the individual employee. Additionally, at an organizational level, security issues may also stand as a major challenge when it comes to delivering learning on personal devices. So while personal data services and personal devices can be a ‘possible’ solution to deliver training, it cannot be a default solution.
These issues of non-connectivity, reluctance to use personal data services, and security necessitate a Learning Management System that can allow the learners to access training in offline mode too.
How does it work?
As the name suggests, a Mobile Offline LMS enables learners to access training content and learn in an "offline" mode. But how? This is done by assigning app-ready training content (in the form of courses, videos, documents, etc.) from an LMS backend to learners or groups of learners, which can then be download by the learners onto their mobile devices when connected to the Internet. The downloaded content can then be viewed (multiple times too!) in an offline mode i.e. when NOT connected to the Internet. This reduces the dependency on the Internet and need for continuous connectivity to a great extent.
The Mobile LMS is usually a native app (for iOS, Android and other Operating System) that resides on the learner's device and records all activities performed offline until an Internet connection is made available and data is synchronized.
Take for instance a mining company that has to deliver training and performance support to its miners, who have to spend considerable amount of time in the mines where Internet connectivity is low to zero. The key requirement in this case is of an LMS that functions within the mines and also on-the-go. In such a scenario having an Mobile LMS is a boon. The mobile app installed on the learners' devices syncs the content from the main LMS when in an area with Internet connectivity. This content is then stored on the device and can be accessed by the learners when at work in the mines or en route.
There is a two-way synchronization of learners’ training progress between the mobile LMS app and the LMS backend. All offline training activities undertaken by the learners can be tracked and their progress can be synced and updated with the live web LMS platform when the connectivity is restored. In addition, the offline LMS with secure login and data encryption ensures complete mobile security.
The benefits of investing in a Mobile LMS that supports Offline mLearning are quite evident. Here are a few prominent ones:
- The users can access a wide range of training content in an offline mode anytime and anywhere with no Internet connectivity required.
- Aids just-in-time performance support.
- Offline compatible content can be easily downloaded and consumed.
- Enables the user to download the content once and view multiple times.
- The offline LMS can also resume downloads, if a particular file download is interrupted.
- The LMS tracks learner's training progress and syncs with LMS when Internet connection is activated.
The multi-device revolution has already given rise to LMS that can work on any device (the Responsive LMS). Add to it an offline capability and it becomes a Mobile Offline LMS, a Learning Management System that can reach far and wide and provide an uninterrupted learning experience to learners - Internet or not. With its numerous advantages and ability to circumvent the challenges posed by low/ no Internet connectivity, it's a good idea for organizations to jump on the bandwagon and find a way to incorporate the Offline LMS into their training programs. ASAP!