Five Steps to Making Your Content Mobile Ready

April 8, 2015

It seems that almost every day we are inundated with more stats about how mobile is becoming an even more integral part of our lives. Here are a couple of the latest mind-blowing ones:

  • As of March 2014, users spend an average of 2.42 hours per day on mobile device1
  • One of four online searches is currently conducted on a mobile device2
  • People check their cell phones up to 150 times per day3
  • 40–50% of job candidates want to apply for jobs from their mobile phones4

Given the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology, one would think that most Learning and Development (L&D) organizations would be well on their way to developing programs specifically for use on mobile devices. To date, however, according to Bersin by Deloitte, only 12% of learning content is mobile-enabled.

Mobile-enable learning assets

This coincides with Xyleme's own research with our prospects and customers. While there are a number of reasons why L&D is not yet fully invested in mobile, I think an insightful observation by Andy Nivison, VP of Customer Education at Information Builders, sums it up for a number of corporate training organizations today:

“The realities of what we experience, and the feedback that we get as a software provider from our customer base, is that only a small subset of their employees would really be thinking about mobile learning right now, because it depends upon the nature of the employee. Mobile employees require mobile learning. Sales-type employees require mobile learning for different types of quick content consumption. For traditional office based employees, the last thing they want to look outside of work is their iPad to self-study. So, it's a popular concept, but I don't think the adoption for learning our technology inside to supplement for their jobs is quite there yet.”

But that is not to say that Information Builders isn't getting their learning content mobile ready—they are, in a big way. Here's a snippet I grabbed from a recent interview I did with Andy where he talks about their mobile strategy:

What Information Builders gets in spades is that the mobile delivery of learning content does not need to be a monolithic event. It can come in phases, just like adoption. Here are five steps that Xyleme customers are taking to get their learning content mobile ready:

1. Looking beyond the course as a mobile output format

According to Pew Research, 86% of smartphone owners use their phones to acquire “Just-in-Time” information. These tasks include coordinating meetings, solving unexpected problems, or finding information to help settle an argument. Xyleme customers understand the power of being able to access this type of information on demand, and recognize that a tablet or smartphone is not simply another window into the Learning Management System.

2. Chunking some existing content into bite-sized nuggets

A common misconception among instructional designers is that in order to go mobile, formal content needs to be recreated and separate sets of formal and informal content maintained. Xyleme customers understand not only the inefficiency of this approach, but also the content management nightmare that it would create. Instead, they often begin their mobile journey by chunking one of their existing courses into small reusable nuggets. This unbundles their content from formal learning and creates a simple content architect that can be evolved and built upon.

In this small excerpt from a Brandon Hall webinar on mobile performance support, Mark Hellinger, President and CEO of Xyleme, succinctly explains why this need not be a complicated process:

3. Surrounding these content nuggets with metadata

According to Brandon Hall, one of the most effective uses of mobile content is through performance support applications that provide relevant nuggets of content, on demand, and at the moment of need:

However, there are some real problems in being able to meet the challenges of providing such on-demand content. Bersin by Deloitte cites the top two factors: the overwhelming volume of content, and the lack of effective search.5 These are contextual issues that Xyleme customers solve by tagging each nugget with metadata that describes that piece of content. Not sure what that means? Think about the hashtags you use when you Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, and so on—that's metadata.

4. Going Agile with content nuggets

The very nature of on-demand mobile delivery dictates that you are able to change your content much more rapidly than you did in the past, and that means going agile with learning content development.

Agile is a technique that is used in everything from project management to software development. At its highest level, it means that development is done in an iterative and incremental fashion. The good news is that Agile is not all or nothing. In can be done in pieces and is easy to get started.

As in software development, where Agile can be started with just a single module, Xyleme customers begin Agile development with a single content nugget, such as a topic, lesson, or procedure. Instead of waiting for that nugget to be updated as part of a course update that occurs every nine to twelve months, the nugget is planned for update within the next thirty days. In essence, the content nugget becomes a pilot project from which an update process is developed, kinks worked out, and new nuggets eventually added to the Agile process.

5. Collecting basic information about learners

The more that L&D organizations know about their audiences, the more capable they are of pushing the right mobile content to individual learners. However, research from Bersin by Deloitte tells us that most L&D organizations are pretty poor at collecting data about their employees.

The good news is that it doesn't take much learner profile information to start delivering relevant content. Xyleme customers start this process by collecting basic information, such as title, role, and locations, about their learners in order to marry their tagged content to individual users. The results are immediate as volumes of one-size-fits-all content are now filtered to specific audiences. As time goes on, additional intelligence can be added to these user profiles, putting L&D organizations on the path to delivering personalized learning experiences.

This roadmap should illustrate that nothing will be perfect from the get-go and that a fair amount of trial and error will be involved. However, with small steps, you'll eventually attain your major goals and reach your destination – mobile success.

If you'd like to learn more about single source and mobile content development, watch the webinars mentioned in this post in their entirety: “Effective Single-Sourcing Transforms Information Builders Customer Education Process” and "Why Performance Support Should be Your First Mobile Initiative."

4Bersin by Deloitte; Predictions for 2014
5Bersin by Deloitte; High-Impact Learning Organization Series 2012

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