The “mobile learning” hype train has been scheduled to leave the station for years now. Depending on what industry you work in, you may be wondering if it will ever get to your stop. But for some industries and job functions, mobile has become absolutely essential. “Mobile Friendly” might have sounded like a smart plan three years ago, but today it is just not enough.

The various eLearning authors have been incrementally adding “mobile learning” to their list of features since early 2012. Just a few years ago, most people thought that a mobile experience was really anything that worked on a tablet! But as consumer preferences have continued to shift towards a fully mobile experience, the eLearning world has once again had to play catch-up.

Is Mobile Always a Must?

There are still situations where mobile learning (or even eLearning!) is not the right solution for some of our clients. This might be because the target learner is a lab technician who is not allowed to use their devices in the workplace, or they work in a call center where it is perfectly acceptable to deliver eLearning on the desktop computer. These situations are real, but they are becoming the exception.

More frequently, we find ourselves creating training destined for sales reps or customers. These learners are, by definition, highly mobile and likely to access training on multiple devices. And since you cannot get much closer to real revenue than the people who sell your products and the people who buy them, it makes sense to optimize their learning experience so it works well on their device of choice!

Here are four ways to ensure your training is mobile first… and not just mobile friendly.

Think Phones, Then Tablets

While designing for the tablet was a great way for companies to get started with mobile a few years ago, it simply is not enough anymore. The one device that almost everyone has with them at all times is the phone. The phone should be a top priority when designing a learning experience and not just an afterthought or “nice-to-have.”

When designing for mobile, we often create a fully responsive website that functions as a web app rather than building a course within an eLearning authoring tool. We generally recommend web apps for maximum device compatibility, but internet access and performance demands don’t always make this the right answer. For example, our new Knowledge Guru smartphone app is a hybrid app that uses a native app shell, which allows for push notifications and offline access.

Create Connected Experiences

I recently listened to a panel of medical device training leaders at the LTEN MD&D Summit discuss learning technologies, and hearing both their success stories and their challenges was very intriguing. All of the panelists discussed the importance of creating a connected experience for the end user. Some described experiences where a new mobile technology failed because they simply had too many portals for sales reps to access.

For sales training, integration with the CRM is always a great idea. One panelist even described a integration where their mobile product knowledge training is available to sales reps within Salesforce and attached to the opportunity they are selling! This is powerful and makes it easy for a reps to build or reinforce relevant knowledge.

Make Knowledge Retention a Priority

Take advantage of the fact that a phone is almost always in your learners’ hands and make it the delivery method of choice when the goal is to reinforce key points from a launch meeting or on-site training event.  Retention tools can range in complexity from flashcard app to agamified experience; the level of complexity you need depends entirely on the expectations and motivation of your learners.

Track the Learning With xAPI

Interest in the xAPI (sometimes known as Tin Can API) grows with each passing year because organizations want to track all of the learning they deploy and not just the courses sitting on the LMS. They also want to get beyond completion tracking and see how training impacts performance. We integrated the xAPI spec into our Knowledge Guru platform back in 2012 and are excited to see interest in this technology continue to grow throughout the industry.

Continue your mobile learning research!

Learn 5 Ways to Improve Knowledge Retention With Games and Mobile on our Knowledge Guru blog here.