Last week we established a few baseline expectations of the benefits of a mobile learning strategy. We talked about how it affects your immediate team, your external stakeholders and how it improves the long-term success of your mobile learning efforts. With those points in mind, you're probably ready to get your efforts underway in creating a strategy. Hold on there, partner. Before venturing in this direction it's vital to get a good understanding of what components comprise a great mobile learning strategy, what you need to avoid, the basics on what it takes to get started and what resources are out there to help you on all of this.
What's in a Strategy?
In essence, a strategy is a comprehensive high-level view of your mobile learning roadmap and technology landscape.
The roadmap for a successful mobile learning should take in account your learners, their goals, the organization's pedagogy and value on training/learning, the focus placed on just-in-time learning and performance support, and the companies views on augmentation. These topics should be considered in terms of where they are now, but also with an eye to the future, possibly thinking out 6 months, 1 year, or maybe 2 years. Planning much further out than that would be very difficult due to the constantly quickening pace of the mobile landscape. The practicality of estimating where technology will be that far out, when you yourself are not one of the technologists inventing it is a fruitless exercise.
The technology landscape can be comprised of the Six P's of a Mobile Technology Strategy, published by Float, here. These six P's are: Platform, Procurement, Policies, Provisioning, Publishing, and Procedures. By carefully weighing your options in these areas, completing the necessary analysis, and then choosing a recommended path or paths in each of them, you will know you are making the correct steps to achieve success.
A strategy is useless unless it can be implemented, so in that light, be sure to ground your planning in the practical and don't get too theoretical. You'll need to make sure that scope, schedule, and budget are always aligned with your business strategy, resources, and funding you have available to you.
What's Not In A Strategy?
It should be clear that a strategy should be full of big ideas tempered with implementation practicality as a backdrop. A strategy is not an app, or really for that matter a series of apps (though it could potentially be, depending on your analysis outcome, natch). A strategy is not an edict of platform nor policy, though these are likely to be components of your larger effort.
A strategy should not be a dead tree. This mobile world moves quickly. What was once unthinkable becomes reality with the next major keynote by a hardware or software vendor. What was once only the territory of an app becomes possible on the next OS revision's improved webbrowser. Mergers happen, OSes evolve, consumers' buying habits change.
Speaking of consumers, your strategy needs to take into account the likelihood that your learners will be bringing their own devices into the workplace, and that this pattern is likely to increase as IT deals with pressure to support more and more smartphones, tablets, and other form factors. A strategy missing this point will be seen as having a gaping hole in understanding the learners' profiles.
Make no mistakes, an effort of this scale takes time and hard work. You're going to need to dig in. Research the market place. Investigate where your competitors are going. Talk to other like-minded departments in your organization. Survey your learners. You'll likely find common threads in your discovery process. It's important to be expansive in your thoughts at this point.
Then once you're ready, start the analysis. We'll go deeper into detail on this topic in a subsequent post in this series.
Finally, you're going to have to consider how to present your findings, curating, and then collating the important content. Keeping the deeper findings in order to back up your analysis and provide a sold foundation for the team that will implement your strategy is crucial. Business cases, estimations of the work to be done, and considerations on the skills and whether or not you will need to enlist outside vendors to produce the work should also be included in this body of findings.
Until Next Time
Well, we've covered a lot of great ideas here. Be sure to come back next week, when we'll discuss the effects you'll start to see after you've created and begun the implementation of your strategy.