Do mlearning Apps really improve performance?

Mark McDermott and Tessa Greig talk about Mobile learning Apps and how it can be implemented in to the workplace.


Tessa: Hello, I am Tessa Greig – I’m Marketing and Project Support Assistant
at Prosell Learning Limited and I’ve been joined by Mark McDermott, Prosell’s Account Director to talk about mobile learning Apps.

Hi Mark

Mark: Hello Tessa

Tessa: Mark, with the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, it seems inevitable that many of our performance improvement programmes now include mobile learning.

I thought it might be interesting to discuss recent experiences we’ve had rolling out mlearning initiatives, the problems we’ve encountered and indeed the solutions we’ve arrived at to make them more effective.

Mark: Yes, good idea, but let’s start at the beginning – mobile learning Apps are just one of the tools at our disposal when designing blended learning performance improvement programmes.

Generally, we are called in when a business is experiencing a problem within their sales or service functions such as missed targets, unengaged teams or high turnover of people.

Tessa: Yes, it can sometimes be quite difficult to unearth the real issues and get to the root cause of problems.

Mark: Absolutely, symptoms such as poor performance and lack of engagement can stem from a variety of internal or external factors.

Firstly, we take time to really understand the issues before making any recommendations. We know that often there’s what we call a “disconnect” between frontline managers and their teams - and that managers often lack the knowledge and skills to develop the performance of their direct reports. And L&D is often not engaged, and left on the side-lines, rather than central to performance improvement.

Tessa: So, what you’re saying is that many managers don’t feel that they have the time to develop nor see their teams often enough and so don’t have a good handle on the individual skills of each team member.

Is this because they’re, perhaps, unsure of their own manager skills and would like to fine-tune their coaching?

Mark: Yes it is, and this pressure can also affect individual team members, who might be thinking, “What training do I need to perform my job properly, do I have access to the appropriate material, how do I server my customers better – and importantly how do I develop myself so that I’m ready for promotion?”

Tessa: I see, and of course, this is what’s so exciting about incorporating mobile learning into our programmes; blended learning as you said – it connects the learner, the manager and the trainer.
Bite-sized modules that allow learning-on-the-go, virtual coaching connecting dispersed teams and social collaboration to help share information.

The use of mobile learning Apps can really help support our programmes.

Mark: Feedback has been great – but we certainly have learnt some valuable lessons along the way.

Tessa: So it hasn’t all been plain sailing, then?

I suppose you can’t assume that everyone is comfortable using tablets or smartphones.

If learners are unsure about using mobile Apps or are resistant to incorporating bite-sized learning into their daily routines, the impact of the learning could be seriously compromised.

Mark: Yes it could. I thought it was very interesting how we got around some of these problems.

For example if we feel that a business’s frontline teams might not be completely familiar with using tablets, we might incorporate a “hands-on” session in the classroom training, right at the start  of the programme.  This builds confidence in using mobile devices, and introduces the benefits of mobile learning.

There is no doubt that the key is regular short sessions, slotted into the working day, or undertaken on their way into or home from work; you’d be surprised how proactive some people are when they have access to practical and pragmatic learning. Frequent communication has proved itself very important in establishing the habit of bite-sized learning on a daily basis and help clients improve their peoples engagement scores too.

Tessa: So, sending regular reminders to learners helps encourage regular usage so that the App can become a part of your frontline line teams’ routine toolkit.

Mark: Absolutely, communication is key to keeping people updated on what they could be doing, what they're great at and what they may need some help with. This coupled with the social collaboration element of mobile learning apps is so important – helping people in dispersed organisations to share experiences and knowledge.

Tessa: Yes, I’ve seen how these Apps can provide a great repository for a company’s training content. If a client asks an unusual question, for example, sales teams can be confident that they can quickly find the answer.

Mark: Exactly, and we know that we need to ensure that learners are regularly engaged in using the mobile Apps to support traditional classroom learning and one-to-one coaching sessions if the programme is to deliver sustained and cost effective performance improvements.

Looking ahead, there is little doubt that continuous lifestyle learning is here to stay and mobile learning Apps will perform a central role in this field.

Tessa: Thanks Mark, that was really interesting. If you would like to discuss mlearning in your business, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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