By Craig Maurer, Learning Systems Consultant, Expertus
Are you planning to “go mobile” with your organization’s learning programs — but wondering how to make it work with your LMS? You have plenty of company.
There’s no question that mobile learning has become a universal business requirement. Thanks to rapid innovation in cloud computing and widespread adoption of BYOD policies, “on-the-go” devices have taken the enterprise by storm.
In fact, many companies have already stopped issuing laptop and desktop computers to some workers. Instead, they’re opting for tablets or smartphones to lower costs and increase productivity.
A trend snapshot reveals just how dramatically the digital workplace is changing:
- By 2015, tablet shipments are expected to outstrip PCs, according to Gartner.
- By 2017, 87% of connected device sales will be tablets and smartphones, according to IDC.
- Already, combined tablet and smartphone shipments surpass those of desktops and notebooks.
- And Forrester projects that, by 2017, 20% of all tablets will be owned by enterprise organizations.
The Mobile Learning Challenge
Now, learning organizations must rise to the challenge. Your workforce, partners, customers and training administrators increasingly expect access to LMS content and capabilities from whatever device they choose.
We already see these expectations affecting training technology decisions. In a recent survey of more than 350 learning and development leaders, we found that the need for device flexibility is the primary reason nearly 60% plan to move up to a next-generation LMS by 2015.
However, there is still a lot of confusion about how to optimize the mobile learning experience. This makes choosing a new LMS especially challenging.
For example, many LMS vendors offer only cosmetic upgrades by modifying their web interface to display nicely on popular mobile devices. However, this “app wrapper” approach merely scratches the surface of what can — and should — be done. If you want a robust solution that will serve learners well over time, it’s important to look deeper.
Three Questions To Ask LMS Vendors
To evaluate the mobile capabilities of an LMS, start with these critical questions:
1) Does your LMS offer full-featured “native” mobile apps — or are they web apps?
Ideally, an LMS app is developed specifically to work with each mobile operating system, (such as Apple iOS or Google Android). This delivers the best user experience and the most reliable performance. It also lets mobile users take advantage of core OS functionality, such as:
- Calendar capabilities (for tasks like class scheduling and enrollment)
- GPS (for tasks like locating classrooms and monitoring attendance)
- Automated offline LMS sync (for continuous learning, with or without a connection).
2) Do you support all devices for Google Android, as well as Apple iOS?
It pays to offer mobile learners the convenience of choice. The broader an app’s reach, the greater its utility and value. Your mobile LMS apps should work flawlessly, regardless of the hardware manufacturer or display dimensions. This gives learners the flexibility to move, uninterrupted, from one device to another while engaged in a specific learning activity. It also ensures that, over time, as device preferences change, learners can trade-up to a new make or model without losing LMS access.
3) Does “responsive” design drive your web user interfaces?
This is based on simple logic. If learners think it’s hard to find or interact with LMS functionality, they won’t use it. That’s why responsive design is essential for mobile web environments. It reorganizes content on-the-fly, to fit the dimensions of a user’s display. By dynamically tailoring the user experience to mobile interface conventions, responsive design offers access to the right content, in a visual context that makes sense for each device.
Clearly, these aren’t the only issues to consider when evaluating mobile LMS apps. But they’re a great way to discover how carefully a vendor approaches mobile learning requirements.
Where Do You Want Mobile Learning To Take You?
Bottom line: Don’t be misled into believing that the best solutions simply replicate familiar LMS features on mobile devices. True mobile learning has potential to be much more powerful.
Consider the capabilities that are unique to mobile devices. Imagine how you can take advantage of those capabilities to accomplish what traditional LMS platforms and web applications cannot do. Vendors who help you think about mobility in that light are committed to innovation that will solve your company’s larger business challenges.
Of course, mobility isn’t the only key issue learning decision makers must consider when buying a next-generation LMS. To look at four common LMS purchasing missteps — and how to avoid them — read our full whitepaper, “Choosing an LMS? Avoid These Four Deadly Traps.”
Note from Kathleen: To see how the ExpertusONE cloud LMS can support mobile learning across your organization, learn more at our website, watch the on-demand ExpertusONE Mobile mini demo now, or contact us anytime to discuss your needs and schedule a personalized demo.
Image Credit: Pixabay