Mobilizing Knowledge to Create Convenient Learning Moments

By Chanin Ballance / August 2013

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The world is shifting to a mobile-driven information society and employees are asking organizations to follow suit. This is good news for companies, because providing convenient access to mobile-ready data allows employees to fit learning moments into their daily activities when and where they need it, thereby improving time-management, boosting performance, and increasing productivity. That said, just making information available on a mobile device doesn't make it effective and in fact may make it worse. It needs to be accessible, digestible and engaging.

When it Comes to Learning, Less is Often More

Dealing with smaller screens and shorter attention spans requires distilling key concepts into easily digestible chunks of knowledge that are accessible on any device—smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Whereas we might have once read a 10-page white paper, most people today are suffering from information overload. That's the theory behind "microlearning," which takes information about complex subjects and breaks it down to make it more manageable and easier to retain.

Chunks, bits and short modules make learning more manageable and easier to integrate into long-term memory. Long classroom or web-based training courses may accomplish the function of training, but rarely achieve desired retention rates. Instead of just dumping information on the learner, employees are expecting the content to be easy to find, relevant and digestible in the way their brains process information. By distilling knowledge to its core, such as key learning points, memorable examples and retention building knowledge checks, the experience is optimized for working memory, instead of overloading it with irrelevant content. Once it's in long-term memory, learners can recall it and transfer the knowledge to the real world.

Designing Learning that is Engaging and Relevant

As technology advances, many mobile devices can now support rich-content, video, quizzes and more. This gives managers multiple options to increase engagement, as well as cater to different learning styles such as visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile. When incorporating these interactive elements, it is essential to remember that everything from font choices, background colors and shading to the pixel size of "buttons" matters. Because much of this knowledge sharing is happening on the go, learning development teams need to consider a variety of factors from device type (iPhone, Android tablet, laptop, etc.) to physical surroundings and other distractions such as noise, Internet access, mobile screen size, and touch specifications. For maximum usability, designs should be streamlined for the "lowest common denominator"; meaning a mobile device with a small display, slow data transfer rate, and limited interactive capability.

Tracking User Experience to Improve the Program

Tracking downloads is not enough to know if the content is good. With proper analytics built-in upfront, companies can collect user data that ties back to business objectives such as sales performance or new employee onboarding. Incorporating knowledge checks and assessments throughout the learning program will provide competency and retention statistics. Plus, performance, consumption, and activity metrics will allow the company to have a deeper understanding of the factors that are influencing employee success.

For example, our client Yesmail, which provides a continuously evolving email marketing platform, needed help sharing product updates with its geographically distributed sales force in a way they could actually use. Despite investing 100-plus hours in building training videos on their Intranet, Yesmail's sales force still had limited product knowledge and management was under time pressure to resolve this situation. The company utilized our MobilePaks learning platform and sales readiness tool to provide their workforce with comprehensive product training that is engaging, meaningful, and measurable. Because MobilePaks is device agnostic, Yesmail's sales force now has access to on-demand performance support, training, and job aids that can be completed at their convenience, only requiring a couple of clicks.

Employees are craving convenient learning moments between meetings, at home or in transit. By providing access to relevant information on-demand, organizations can enable their workforce to get the knowledge they need when they need it. However, effectively migrating knowledge to the mobile realm requires distilling key messages into digestible snippets of information that can be easily retained on the go. It also requires, streamlining design so it will accommodate multiple devices. Further, for maximum ROI, managers must track consumption, as well as performance metrics, to identify what's working and what requires improvement. Combining all of these elements when developing a mobile knowledge sharing program will not only bring life to stale content, but will empower employees to be more productive and successful.

About the Author

As CEO and founder, Chanin Ballance brings years of experience in technology, business management, and marketing to guide the development of MobilePaks. In addition, Chanin continues to spearhead VIA's (MobilePak's sister company) constant advance into new technological landscapes, from mobile and game-based learning solutions, machine and hybrid translation to multilingual product launches in 32 countries. She is an active member of the Young Professional Organization and the AT&T Women Entrepreneurs' Forum. In addition, she frequently speaks at national and local events, as well as contributes to industry publications.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2513574

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