One-to-one initiatives and the integration of mobile learning technologies are major trends in K-20 education today. These programs have the ability to heighten student and faculty engagement, bringing excitement and new modalities for learning to lessons that can easily become mundane in traditional “chalk-and-talk” lecture environments. Additionally, these platforms can help students succeed at mastering difficult subjects, by offering learners the ability to customize their learning situation – leveraging rich media content such as recorded videos, interactive simulators, and dynamic testing. In many cases, students are able to access these tools at a time of day and from a location that best suits their needs and schedule.
A recent study conducted by AT&T and the Economist Intelligence Unit led me to ask whether corporate learning environments, for new employee training or ongoing career development, can share the same benefits of mobile learning seen in traditional K-20 education. As noted in a sub-article from the study, “Using mobile devices as a training tool does away with the need for expensive off-site training sessions and does not require employees to take time off to attend classes. Furthermore, the shift towards training delivered via mobile-based apps in small, easily digestible chunks is consistent with the drive towards continuous engagement spurred by the rapid spread of mobile devices.”
For a more personal insight into my own corporation’s view of mobile learning, I visited with Elliott Rosenberg, director of AT&T Learning Services. I asked Elliott for some of his insights about using mobile apps and devices in corporate training programs at AT&T. Here’s what he had to say:
BEN: As a major player and advocate in the mobility and mobile app arena, what is AT&T’s approach to leveraging mobile apps in its own professional development curriculum?
ELLIOTT: AT&T utilizes the technology it sells when training its employees. In many cases, learning material is delivered on a wireless device, in combination with other delivery mediums. It would be incorrect to place all learning on a mobile device, but when appropriate, AT&T seeks to provide employees with an immersive and flexible learning environment. AT&T earned a #1 ranking from Chief Learning Officer magazine in both 2011 and 2013 as the best corporate learning organization, and in 2012 placed #2. This sort of recognition provides a clear reflection of AT&T’s commitment to innovative and effective training of its employees, which translates into an improved experience for our customers.
BEN: One-to-one initiatives are a major trend in K-20 education today, touting benefits such as dynamic/personalized learning, enhanced student engagement, and the ability to extend learning locations and hours. Do these benefits hold true for the use of mobile technology and apps in corporate training?
ELLIOTT: These principles are really dependent upon the organization. But, as a whole, one of the main objectives of any learning opportunity is to motivate the employee to want to learn, vs. having to learn. While not all organizations can extend training beyond official working hours, the proper motivation can surely help employees keep on top of a very fast-paced and changing environment. With AT&T’s deployment of many learning opportunities to a wireless device, personalization can be optimized and engagement improved.
BEN: How is AT&T using mobile apps to make professional development more convenient and effective for employees?
ELLIOTT: AT&T’s own mobile app store facilitates specific deployment of apps to assist with sales, information distribution, performance management, coaching opportunities, etc. In many areas, sellers and employees alike are no longer tethered to a computer to get information. These mobile apps enhance both the employee and customer experiences.
Clearly, in both traditional K-20 institutions as well as corporate learning environments, an eye toward mobility can yield great rewards. Traditional and corporate students can benefit from increased flexibility and personalization regarding how they learn, and both academic and corporate administrators can benefit from an audience which is more receptive and enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge.