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Mobile Learning Is an Ecosystem, Not a Platform

Posted by Josh Cardoz on Thu, Jun 23, 2016

So you want to go mobile, but don’t know where to start. Most people start by thinking: “We need an app.”

We hear this a lot from our customers where, over the last 6-12 months, someone has tapped their shoulder, telling them they need to go mobile.

Ok. Sure. An app would be important. But then what?

What is going on within the app? And for how long?

How is the app going to fit in with everything else around it?

What’s going to drive people to want to use the app?

What will the app do that can’t be done on a desktop computer?

During our design sessions, our customers come to us looking for an app but realize quite quickly that their request is a little premature. What they really need is a mobile experience. And not many truly understand what that means yet. As far as L&D is concerned, going mobile is a massive change management initiative, so how do you prepare your organization for that?

Part of it is breaking free from the chains of traditional L&D thinking. Here’s an example: When dealing with customers who are interested in ECHO - our learning reinforcement app - we often get questions like: “What does the app do?” or “Can I put my training on it?” While these are completely fair questions, you can see the remnants of an archaic learning culture focused on technology and tools. It’s as if venturing down a new path in L&D is a bureaucratic task that involves simply adding new tech and merging it with legacy systems.


For a global leader in pharmaceuticals, their legal team learned about leadership through the lens of a mobile adventure game - a massive (but necessary) change management initiative for a reluctant target audience.

When it comes to ECHO, having an app that helps you perform mobile reinforcement is not the same as having an immersive mobile reinforcement experience. The platform is only as good as the content within it; on its own, the app is just an empty shell. And while content is king, both platform and content are slaves to the experience, which is the critical consideration when thinking about (successfully) going mobile. And when we start considering the entire experience, we have to factor in everything affecting it - that is, your mobile ecosystem.

Here are the lines of thinking one must consider in order to get a mobile ecosystem started:

Business Strategy ROI/Metrics



Content Implementation Communication & Support

How does mobile fit into your overall digital strategy? learning strategy?

How are you going to know the mobile solution was a success?

How is mobile going to contribute to your bigger picture of success?

What (and whose) hardware are you going to use?

Where is data going to be stored?

Who is going to handle tech support?

How are you going to support your solution with mobile-ready content? 

How is your mobile experience going to differ from your other learning experiences? 

How is your mobile solution going to fit into your existing learning ecosystem? (Formal training, managers, performance plans)

Do you have a digital culture? Mobile culture?

How are you going to roll out this solution?




When going mobile, the more of these questions you can answer, the more credible your business case will be in the eyes of your stakeholders. All of these levers must move as one in order to always position your mobile solution for success.

For us at SwissVBS, the notion of “Value at every step of the learning journey” couldn’t be more aligned with going mobile. We’re not a content or platform company - we’re a learning experience design agency and we let the experience lead the way. We’re learning experts first and that’s important in a quickly populating mobile learning space.

Your mobile ecosystem (the combination of people, processes, content and tools) is more important than any app can offer on its own.

When considering mobile, worry less about platforms, tools and technology and stay focused on the learner experience. When you have a clear vision for the learning need, you have the beginnings of a business case that will keep all stakeholders excited and aligned.

Sure, you may settle on an app eventually, but only when it is embedded within an ecosystem that’s ready for it to succeed.

Keep your eye on the experience, not the tool.

What does your mobile learning ecosystem look like?

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Topics: mobile, Learning Reinforcement

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