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Learning Unleashed on Mobile: The E-learning Take II

E-learning has been around for over 10 years, so what has changed? In a nutshell, the proliferation of employees with internet enabled devices.

Last week, Raytheon hosted a symposium in London which considered how companies benefit from tapping into the social internet age to maximize learning value across employees and customers, and examples were provided with case studies. Whether you are still experimenting with or actually embarking on delivering a mobile strategy, the discussions and findings at Raytheon’s symposium were thought-provoking.  Here are some highlights.  .

Setting up for success

Jane Massy, CEO of Abdi, claimed that Asian companies are showing the biggest uptake in deciding what to measure before undertaking a training program. She shared a few upfront steps before building a training plan to ensure its success.

  1. Determine if governance is in place to ensure that training investments will support business growth
  2. Clarify goals to confirm which business outcomes should be impacted
  3. Segment and understand the learners to define what “unacceptable” looks like
  4. Test the learner’s appetite for training to gauge whether the approach should be modified.

Finally, be sure to leverage survey and social tools to support training engagement.

Use benchmarking to support the business change

Laura Overton, MD of Towards Maturity, provided some statistics from the company’s 2013 Mobile Learning at Work report including one that around 70% of companies are planning to implement mobile learning in the next two years. Other statistics from the report were that top learning organizations are:

  • Seven times more likely to agree (than non top learning organizations) that L&D staff have skills to exploit technology for business advantage
  • Twenty-eight times more likely to encourage staff to share and solve problems
  • Thirty-four times more likely to support a learner community and help learners communicate with each other
  • Forty-six times more likely to train trainers to use technology to extend learning beyond the classroom.

She presented a case study of the British Army. It revealed 80% of soldiers use smartphones but only 30% of Army training staff do so. This statistic was used to overcome stakeholder resistance to m-learning.  45% of workers found mobile learning essential or very useful, for instance, for tips on what to do in a situation such as evacuating a building in a fire. From the study, Laura presented that 28% of workers already used their own devices to do their job better, whether or not the training department supported this. Mobile learning needs to support formal learning but should not be seen as a replacement.

Raytheon Introduction, Paul Swinscoe

Raytheon has a deep history in training, from flight simulations and helping NASA train astronauts for the Apollo landings in the 1960s and is now exploiting e-learning to support companies like Axalta.

Case Study: Axalta presented by Mick Monaghan

Axalta needed to train employees and also customers to help support the launch of a product. The success of the product launch depended on Axalta’s ability to engage effectively with a large customer user community and enable a large number to be trained quickly. The online training means the customer does not need to send engineers on training courses and they can pace their own training.

Axalta’s business challenge was that it had 42 customer training centers used for training on applying their paints. Customers were demanding cost reductions, participation levels were down, skills and knowledge of their products were eroding, and customers were asking for on-site help. Axalta delivered an e-learning program for product training which used graphics. As a result, the training effort to complete the course reduced from three days to two and customers are more receptive to training.  In Germany, 240 participants enrolled, a total saving of £180k. Other benefits include higher customer satisfaction from paints being applied correctly and fewer product complaints. Axalta now consider e-learning a “must-have”.

In the break we discovered that some companies who had invested in iPads had issues with using them for training as they do not have flash player. Huddle was being purchased by one company with whom I talked.

Talat Riaz, Raytheon on Training Mediums

Talat discussed the pros and cons of different training mediums including virtual classrooms, 3D graphics and QR codes.

  • Virtual classrooms are incredibly effective. However, consider how to support these and extend the learning with social forums and mobile learning
  • 3D graphics are extremely useful for training about complex technical structures that need pulling apart into components
  • QR codes can help with the knitting of the virtual and physical world, particularly for point in time information where data and processes often change. Having the right data at the right time.

Jonny Gifford, Advisor from CIPD, and The “desire line”

People are always making paths where they desire to go – like a shortcut across a park. If we put fences up to try to change the path, we will not succeed. So why not let employees who are trying to do the best for your company explore and experiment? The path will over time be formed that fits your culture and company. From this, corporate communications will have a vehicle which captures the spirit of your company. Once desire lines are understood they can be enhanced and promoted.

Steve Land, Director, Motiv8 Training

Steve Lang reminded us how people learn and how the brain works. We all look for that sense of achievement. He reminded us that the best trainers are strong motivators. He scared us with memories of overhead projectors then highlighted how we have so much more to leverage from today’s technology to inspire and motivate trainees.

Overall, the event demonstrated how Raytheon is helping improve the effectiveness of learning delivery through the use of technology and e-learning.  It also demonstrated how e-learning and m-learning can't work in isolation: additional delivery methods and engagement channels such as virtual learning and learning communities need to complement the standard learning program to achieve successful learning outcomes.

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