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For Business
November 14, 2013

Making work training mobile

One of the many things that will have to change with this shift away from traditional office-based work scenarios is training.

With a freshly mobile workforce, the old kinds of training are becoming less viable: going into a meeting room for a day’s worth of learning isn’t a possibility if your staff aren’t in the office, or if your company doesn’t actually have an office.

The concept of ‘on-the-job’ learning needs a rethink too, if being on-the-job can mean sitting at home alone rather than in the same building as your colleagues.

Even for traditional office workers, big changes have made mobile technology the go-to device for going online, rather than a desktop, and an increasingly number of people are bringing their own device to work <link to BYOD post>.

So how can mobile technology meet the training needs of a workforce that’s out of the office or just prefers a mobile approach? In this post, we’re going to look at a few great case studies for answers.

Mobile training in healthcare

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) used mobile devices to provide training to its onsite staff. Keith Quinn, the SSSC’s Senior Education and Workforce Development Adviser said: “What we got back from line managers and learners themselves was that they loved the flexibility – they were able to fit the learning around shift patterns or around unforeseen demands.”

The organisation had previously found that classroom-based training could easily be disrupted or go to waste – if there was an emergency the member of staff would have to be called back to work. But with training on a mobile device, they could just put it down, deal with the issue, then pick up where they left off with minimal disruption.

Another significant benefit was financial – moving 20% of out-of-office training to etraining which didn’t take staff out of the office would save SSSC a very significant £39.5m ($61.8m/€46.9m).

At SSSC, they also employed location-triggered learning, by putting barcodes around the workplace, which could be scanned using the device to trigger learning specific to that area. One of the key benefits of this was that they were delivering the learning as it was applied, and by reducing the distance between the theory and the practice, they hoped to really make the training stick.

Keith commented: “The beauty is the device itself fits in a pocket, so what we were really keen on was elearning with no interface, so people didn’t have to sit and…get over their anxiety about using a keyboard or a mouse or a track pad.”

Learning in the hairdresser’s chair

PwC saw some very similar benefits when they started offering elearning for mobile. Ros Sutton told the Learning Technologies conference last year that when the project started, there a lot of internal skepticism about the ability of her team to deliver good courses on small screens. Yet, they quickly found that those constraints stopped people adding more copy and caveats, making the course more streamlined.

Tellingly, the feedback from the users was that the mobile learning system created a far more intense experience than working through the equivalent course with all its distractions. 98% of the people who used it during the pilot would recommend it to a friend or colleague. The use of downtime came into play too – at least two users reported doing their learning while at the hairdressers!

Nokia and Seton Hall University

Our final example comes from Seton Hall University. Seton Hall gave all its incoming freshmen students a Nokia Lumia 900. As well as giving students access to a great piece of technology, it also came with SHUmobile, an app that provided access to campus news feeds, directories, maps, customised social media integration and direct communication channels with their freshmen peers, peer academic advisors, housing information and roommates.

While this might not be a workplace example, this is great example of how mobile learning can help people settle in to a new environment and get to grips with basic information, and could be replicated as a great induction process for new hires.

Does your workplace use mobile learning? How do you find it? Would you like to see more training go mobile in your workplace? Let us know in the comments.

This article is part of Nokia’s Smarter Everyday programme, which aims to inspire you with the latest ideas on productivity, collaboration and technology adoption. To download our latest ebook Mobile Mastery visit