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Mobile Learning and Performance Support: The Power Duo

Monday, December 7, 2020
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If I have to describe the modern-day workforce, I will say it is more dispersed, mostly on-the go, and hungry for snackable information. To meet its needs, organizations must think of designing adaptable and, more importantly accessible, short and bite-sized learning solutions. And if you have zeroed in on mobile learning, you are on the right track.

Mobile learning allows people to take control of their learning. And since mobile devices are ubiquitous (66.83 percent of the world’s population owns smartphones), it’s logical to use this delivery method to offer just-in-time performance support for employees when they need it the most.

Employees can access relevant and useful content anytime and anywhere, with or without the internet (through app-based mobile apps). In short, mobile learning and performance support allow organizations to offer instruction and support simultaneously, which is crucial for the modern-day employee juggling multiple responsibilities.

You can leverage mobile learning for performance support to:

Reinforce Formal Learning

Most of us are aware of the “Forgetting Curve,” which states that learners forget most of what’s learned in a formal training session. While it’s debatable how quickly people forget newly acquired information, what is clear is that learners tend to quickly forget recent information if it’s not reinforced in the days, weeks, and months following the training session. In fact, people can forget up to 80 percent of the new information within 24 hours.

To prevent that from happening, you can offer performance support assets in a mobile learning (mLearning) format after the formal training session to keep the learning alive, such as how-to resources for operating a piece of machinery or software. The idea is to quickly cement what’s learned and let employees use the information in real time. Having the flexibility to access these assets and tools on the devices of their choice is the icing on the cake.

Reinforcement using mobile-based performance support ensures two crucial aspects:

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  • Enhancing retention of key concepts
  • Making it easier for learners to apply what’s learned to the job

Figure: Types of Mobile-Based Performance Support Assets

Types of Mobile-Based Performance Support Assets.png

Facilitate the Application of Newly Acquired Knowledge

While formal training provides first-hand knowledge to acquire a skill, performance support tools (PSTs) are provided at the moment of need to facilitate the application of the acquired skill. PSTs are designed to address a specific problem or challenge.

But how would mobile learning help? Let’s look at two examples of how this would work with and without mobile-based performance support.

1. Without Mobile Learning. Consider this scenario. An employee needs to accomplish a task that he is unfamiliar with (for example, a task that requires use of a recently released application or revamped equipment). The employee will most likely approach his peers or his manager. Or he may go back to the actual training material and handouts of the formal training session and search for the specific information he needs from them. Easy? No! Time spent on searching? A lot!

2. With Mobile-Based Performance Support. On the other hand, mobile-based performance support will enable the employee to get an immediate answer to his query. The required information can be provided as a ready reckoner that answers all such queries. With mobile-based performance support, employees will have direct access to the exact information within the workflow and on the device of their choice.
Easy? Definitely! Time spent on searching? Little!

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Access Information at the Moment of Need

And finally, mobile learning and performance support are the perfect match to provide employees with job aids and on-the-job support, when they need it the most.

Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson’s Five Moments of Need tells us exactly when learners look for learning the most. According to them, they seek support when they:

  • Are learning how to do something new for the first time.
  • Want to learn more.
  • Want to apply or recall something.
  • Need to solve something that has gone wrong.
  • Want to relearn to adjust when something changes.

While formal training programs can address the first two learning needs, mobile-based performance support tools would make more sense for the last three.

I would say mobile learning and performance support are specific, succinct, and accessible.

Want to Learn More?

Join me at ATD TechKnowledge 2021 for the Mobile Learning For Performance Support – Best Practices for Sales Professionals session. We will explore how UDL is more than accessibility, it is a purposeful design for all participants, lessening the need for accommodations, and reaching all learners despite how they best acquire knowledge or demonstrate understanding.

About the Author

RK Prasad is the founder and CEO of CommLab India, a 15-year-old global e-learning company based in India. He is responsible for formulating business strategy and ensures that his organization focuses on the big picture. RK has 29 years of experience in sales, corporate training, university teaching, and e-learning. He has an MBA and is currently pursuing his PhD in technology-enhanced learning from Lancaster University. He is also a University Grants Commission–certified lecturer in management, an engaging speaker, and an effective trainer. Connect with RK on LinkedIn.

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