Corporate M-Learning Realized!!
Those who read my posts know that my biggest area of interest is corporate mobile learning. I look at it as an interest within an interst. We see quite a few articles and studies on m-Learning in k-12 and university settings, but we don’t often see a good case study in corporate mobile learning. Well, thanks to the Masie Center’s Mobile Learning Update I came across a good case study on corporate mobile learning with Merrill Lynch. Here’s a link to the article called, Merrill Lynch: Bullish on Mobile Learning, available at Chief Learning Officer Magazine’s web site. This article proves that when done properly, mobile learning can not only provide an equal training experience… but it can beat the results attained through traditional classroom and eLearning.
The success of Merrill Lynch employees was really the result of a well thought out and well designed mobile learning program. Specifically, I think they paid great attention to their learners and adapted to them rather than asking them to adapt to the learning. I think this may be the most comprehensive corporate learning program I’ve seen so far and the results reflect that. Here are some factors that made them successful:
– The program leveraged mobile learning to take advantage of learners’ motivation to learn when they want to learn and when they are not being forced to do other tasks (even tasks like learning), m-Learning is the true embodiment of the “anytime, anywhere” learning environment e we all want
– Merrill Lynch used a common platform, the Blackberries deployed to their employees… any mobile learning developer will tell you that it’s MUCH easier to provide an effective mobile learning product when they can target a common set of devices, wide disparity of target devices only dilutes the product.
– Designers researched the current mobile habits of employees and built their training around that, taking advantage of the habits learners already developed with their mobile devices
– The program was designed to be extremely easy to use, finding, downloading and launching were all taken into consideration and priority was given to simplicity from the user’s perspective. The learning products were also available offline when the device couldn’t connect to a network.
– Program designers focused on creating a mobile learning solution within the confines of their current enterprise IT/Learning architecture, knowing that they needed to fit it into the current configuration rather than changing that configuration to fit the learning. Most learning professionals would agree that it can be a non-starter with decision makers when you want to start changing the same IT that facilitates all the daily business operations that make a business work.
Overall, I found this case study very insightful and I think corporate learning professionals should look at some of the lessons learned and design practices as guidelines to create a successful mobile learning program. Obviously, not all organizations can deploy 20,000 Blackberries, but maybe they can do things on a smaller scale. Organizations have deployed a common platform for computing for years, maybe it’s time they looked harder at providing that same consistency to mobile computing.