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Mobile: The Key to Agile Learning

Posted by Josh Cardoz on Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Yesterday, the Harvard Business Review published an interesting article on “How Learning and Development are Becoming More Agile” where a particular quote caught my eye:

The future of learning is three ‘justs’: just enough, just-in-time, and just-for-me.” It means that training is going to have to be just as agile as the workforce — where speed, flexibility, and innovation are key. It means that more learning will happen in teams, and on platforms where training can be delivered any time, any place, at the user’s convenience.

For most of us, this isn’t anything new to hear. We’ve been hearing about *pulls out megaphone* “The Future of Learning” for a while (I always think of the Jetsons’ kids going to school whenever I hear that phrase), but at what point are we actually going to get there? Like, actually get there? But perhaps we already kind of are. When I think of the three ‘justs,’ I can’t help but think mobile. Mobile will be the key to unleashing the potential of agile learning for an agile workforce.

For example, our ECHO app is a solution designed for agility. Learners engage with the app according to their needs, whether learning or performance based (and let’s be honest, they are pretty much one and the same now). In a learning-focused environment, they can take practices to boost retention. In a high-stakes, high context performance environment, they can access bite-size resources or even review flashcards as a procedural reference. Got a new learning experience? You choose your content format: questions, tips, videos, documents. Content updates? Just pull from the cloud.  

 Agile Learning Experiences. Agile Creation. Agile Distribution.

The technology is here. So why is this “future of learning” so hard to attain?

Of course, the least agile thing about mobile is actually trying to get your organization to go mobile. It takes a certain maturity from a learning culture perspective to invest in mobile infrastructure, which often leads to a chicken and egg scenario where no one wants to move first (or at all). You need a certain philosophical alignment (yes, that dreaded word) before you even talk mobile. I recently spoke with a client desperately trying to go mobile, but knew she had to assemble a master battle strategy (Patton would be impressed) to take on her entire organization. Sound familiar?

We need to stop getting in the way of ourselves. Our talent management relies on it.

So here are three key best practices to help make your journey to mobile a little less rigid (dare I even say…agile?):

  1. Talk to IT

You don’t make friends with salad and you don’t go mobile without IT. Start the conversation. You may not like where it’s going, but keeping IT informed, even with what you are trying to accomplish, will go a long way in making sure you avoid any obvious stumbling blocks. We all know that IT can be the ultimate gatekeeper, but with the right support, they can also be the ultimate enabler.  

  1. Optimize Your Content

Your 200-page manual and 10 hour eLearning courses are fantastic, but just not on a phone. Start bringing your content into 2016. Think less stage-on-a-stage and PowerPoint slides and think more YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram - This is what today’s content looks like.

Set your ship in the right direction for all content you create moving forward (that includes even the classroom). Even if you never end up going mobile, your people will thank you for creating content that is more targeted, accessible and engaging. 

  1. Pilot yesterday! Today

One of the great outcomes of the mobile learning revolution is the focus on iterative design. Mobile learning should be iterative, because that’s how the rest of the mobile world works. We’re not trying to get it right the first time. The value you can extract from mobile analytics is designed to help you do better in the next phase. So stop worrying about getting it right and start prototyping and piloting.

Find your internal champions, your pilot group and get your hands dirty as quickly as possible. This isn’t a large investment.

At the very least, you’ll have tremendous lessons learned for your next attempt at it. And, if you are working with the right partner, at best you will have your business case ready with empirical evidence, to bring to leadership. (Who said you have to fight the good fight on your own?)

These are three things you need to be doing right now. Free your organization from its shackles so that you can have the agile learning culture your organization is begging for.

By the way, if you’re working on your own battle strategy, let’s talk!

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Topics: Mobile Learning

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