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ATD Blog

New Rule--Think Mobile First


Mon Jul 09 2012


It’s been interesting to watch mobile learning move to the forefront of our field. But it shouldn’t be surprising, given that an increasing population of the workforce is working remotely and more people than ever are accessing the Internet on their phones.

To be sure, we’re all attached to our phones in ways we couldn’t have imagined 10 or even 5 years ago. (Before I leave the house, I check my pocket for three things: keys, wallet, and phone. And there’s nothing remotely radical about that.) Our phones are becoming the primary way many of us access content. And it’s not just checking facebook, reading news feeds, getting directions, and buying movie tickets. Consider some of the popular apps like Instagram and foursquare, or not as well-known tools like Gas Cubby to track gas mileage and vehicle maintenance, Evernote to create text, photo, and audio notes that sync to your computer, or Sports Tracker to detail and analyze workout performances.


We use these tools in our everyday life because they work well. But the reason they work so well isn’t just that they are available from a mobile device, it is due to their direct and deliberate design at fulfilling a need.

Why should it be any different for learning content or information that our employees need to do their jobs? Granted, mobile has gone from being perceived as something that only large companies can afford to a vital part of a learning strategy. But when will it transcend into a tool that practitioners consider first when designing learning solutions? Even if mobile learning is not a current priority in your organization, you should start taking a mobile-first approach to your design. Think about the limitation of the device such the screen size, but more important, when and why people would use mobile access. That way, you can determine the best way to convey the information in a simple, straightforward, and uncluttered way.

Last month, I was fortunate enough to see Clark Quinn present at mLearnCon. He has summed up part of his presentation in a recent post on his blog titled “5 Phrases to Make Mobile Work.” As you work on your mobile projects, I think it is well worth your time to see what he has to say.

ASTD is also working hard to further the development of mobile learning. Last month saw the release of our new book Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training (co-published with RockBench), authored by mobile expert Chad Udell. If you’re interested in learning more, there is a free chapter available for download. Chad is also conducting a free, ASTD member webinar “Taking Learning Mobile” on July 12th and will be speaking at our LearnNow event in Boston on July 25-26 in Boston.

As always, stay in touch. I’d love to hear what your organization is doing with mobile learning, or if you’re looking for a particular type of mobile learning content. You can email me directly, catch me on Twitter, or drop a comment below.


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