April 15, 2016

Are you ready for mobile?

We can no longer say ‘The future is mobile’ because it – mobile – has already caught on. It is the here and now. Or it is for learners – employers still need to catch up.

Employees are increasingly willing and able to learn on the move, accessing the learning they want, how they want and in their own time. They do not restrict their learning to the workplace and certainly not to the desktop. However, businesses still have some way to go in terms of providing either tailored content or broader support in order to facilitate mobile learning.

A new report from the L&D research organisation, Towards Maturity, encompassing the experiences of 1,600 UK employees and 600 senior L&D professionals, found that 90% of UK workers now own a smartphone or tablet. Over half (53%) say the ability to access learning on a mobile device is either ‘essential’ or ‘very useful’. But the report, called ‘Learning and Performance on the Move’, found that many employers are still trailing behind.

Two thirds of organisations offer some form of mobile learning, but only 38% are developing mobile-specific resources. Some employers provide smartphones or tablets for learning and development (37%), while 40% encourage BYOD – when employees bring their own devices to work.

Employees have noted this reluctance to encourage or facilitate mobile learning on the part of their employers – fewer than one in five employees feel that their L&D department encourages them to learn online.

What does other research into the take up of mobile tell us? The CIPD’s 2015 annual Learning and Development survey found that only a quarter of respondents were planning to increase their mobile learning in the year ahead. As an L&D priority, mobile languished behind coaching and mentoring, mobile classrooms and webinars.

Another worrying trend that was highlighted in the CIPD survey was that many L&D professionals lack confidence in using learning technology. Only a quarter of respondents felt ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ confident in their ability to use technology to improve the effectiveness of their L&D interventions.

This begs the question: ‘What can and should L&D do to improve their confidence and proficiency with technology?’

– Firstly, start using learning technologies yourself. Get familiar with different types of learning technologies, how they can be used and what that looks like. Ask colleagues and your networks what they are doing and ask for recommendations. Things are usually more scary from the outside.
– Think about how technology can help you as a professional and how it can help the business. Talk to the business – strategic leaders, line managers, junior members of staff – to find out how they think technology could help them. Find out how they learn now and how they would like to learn in the future.
– When it comes to mobile, think about what it offers, think about how it could boost performance, both within the L&D team and in the wider business.

Mobile is going to keep growing in importance and prevalence and it’s going to keep changing. L&D has to keep up and move with the times.