“You can't stop the future You can't rewind the past The only way to learn the secret ...is to press play.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why
Not long ago, a new hire was given a binder filled with pages and pages of information to acclimate themselves with their new company, products, the HR dos and don’ts and other relevant and superfluous information. This then gave way to the computing era, where info was available on a corporate lan, more often than not, as a redundancy to the binder method. Now, you could expect an Ipad, a phone and a “welcome to the firm.” Such is the new era in information dissemination for the purposes of reference, learning and review.
In today’s mobile age, the general populous is “always connected” - be it constant contact to information or to one another. The proliferation of smart gadgets – mobile phones, tablets, and ultraportables has made the transfer of shared information and data more readily accessible than ever before. A recent study puts the traction of mobile technology in perspective: 87% of Americans adults own a cell phone, and 70.2% are using their personal mobile devices for business use.
These advances in mobile technology have changed the way businesses think and operate. Companies now need operate at a much faster pace than ever before and more than ever, today, sales organizations need to invest in new methods for both training and learning. Employees must be empowered with the latest tool-sets, capabilities, and knowledge to help drive business.
In this article, we delve into why the evolution of learning models into mobile e-learning platforms is an important and beneficial tool for companies today looking to train and educate the sales force and other important sectors of their companies.
What is Mobile Learning?
Before going more into in-depth into why mobile e-learning matters today, it is important to understand what exactly mobile e-learning is: It involves the use of portable handheld technologies such smartphones, laptops, and tablets for the study and assessment of new concepts. It can be used for a variety of purposes – such as for the training of new hires, dissemination of new or updated materials for current staff, or to scheduling periodic training updates. Many companies author their training based content in Learning Management Systems (LMS), which allow content to be pushed digitally. Additionally, Learning Management Systems allow training modules to be tracked, greatly increasing the understanding of the effectiveness of the training programs.John Traxler, a leading professor in the field of mobile learning states:
“Looking at mobile learning in a wider context, we have to recognize that mobile, personal, and wireless devices are now radically transforming societal notions of discourse and knowledge, and are responsible for new forms of art, employment, language, commerce, deprivation, and crime, as well as learning.”
With the rates of mobile technology adoption growing steadily every year, and every new generation of more powerful devices, businesses are leveraging these technologies to spread knowledge - from sales presentations to training materials for its employees. Industries such as pharmaceutical and medical sectors are developing initiatives for content aligned with mobile training strategies.
In fact, survey results from the Learning Guild show “the use of mLearning for social networking and communication is more prevalent than it is for the development of custom applications, with 38.1% of organizations either implementing, designing, or building the business case for social networking and only 25.7% for custom application development”.
In today’s economic climate, businesses are constantly morphing and adapting to stay current with ever changing needs. Sales individuals are constantly learning and unlearning key competencies to stay up to date with information relevant for that moment. Thus, a traditional classroom and PC cannot give them the immediacy or “at-the-moment” information or training material they may need at that right time. Instead of having to worry about aligning their schedules to a live training session in their already busy day, an employee can access a training course at any time of the day - on a flight for instance. This instant access at any time makes mobile learning convenient.This can prove especially useful right before a big presentation and allow them to
“…ask the right questions, deliver the best concepts, and ultimately increase their chances of making the sale”
In a previous article, I have outlined some of the business benefits of the iPad. Recent research on the pharma industry shows that businesses are already on board with mobile learning:
• 80% of field agents in the U.S. will carry iPads by 2015.
• 70% of existing e-detailing materials are being converted to iPad-compatible format
New updates to training content can be uploaded to courses instantly, instead of having to wait for the next scheduled live training course boosting an employee’s agility and lowering costs for businesses concurrently.
Mobile e-learning is a platform that allows for “continuous learning.” Instead of the finite time allotted at a live course or training session, mobile e- learning courses allow users to refresh learning at any time to help retain key concepts to enhance memory and training. The addition of practice activities and feedback engrained in these modules will go even further to reinforce this content and produce strong results.
Studies have shown that memory retention and consolidation or solidification of memory from what is commonly known as ‘short term’ to ‘long term’ memory is enhanced both by producing new pathways and sleep processes.Alison Preston, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Learning and Memory writes:
At the cellular level, memory is expressed as changes to the structure and function of neurons. For example, new synapses—the connections between cells through which they exchange information—can form to allow for communication between new networks of cells. Alternately, existing synapses can be strengthened to allow for increased sensitivity in the communication between two neurons.
A Global Standardization in the Cloud
The globalization of business has also created a company infrastructure that is no longer defined by an entire organization working in a shared communal space from 9-5. Employees are now located over the globe and constantly traveling with their smartphones and laptop as their only means of communication with their employers. Mobile e-learning solutions help to ensure that consistent training based content is pushed across to employees from virtually anywhere across the globe at any time zone in multiple languages. Thus, mobile e-learning is unbound geography and time.
Cloud based data storage and push capability allows companies to change content in one location – thus drastically reducing the time and cost for distribution of iterations and changes safeguarding against incorrect our outdated information presented to customers on a global scale. Similarly, cloud based applications allow unparalleled security as content is contained at a single location that can be shut off immediately as required.
As the world continues to adopt and adapt to mobile technology, companies are beginning to see the benefits of mobile e-learning. Mobile E-learning can be applied to product training and sales/marketing-related learning materials, along with organizational based compliance training. By allowing businesses to more easily pass along learning materials to employees, mobile e-learning has become an instantly accessible learner-centric experience, with a positive results for a company’s bottom line.
The iPad in Healthcare
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