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Accessible, inclusive mobile learning for all

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DateJune 26, 2013 Posted by: Laura Overton   Keywords: award winning, Mobile

The mobile opportunity

In the modern workplace, mobile devices provide a tangible option for completing every kind of business task. And we know the power of the mobile for supporting learning and performance.

Our own research with 500 L&D staff shows that 70% of them are either using or planning to introduce mobile learning by 2014. They are being used to support a wide range of activities:

  • To deliver learning content to support formal learning(by 62%)
  • To support communication and collaboration (by 54%)
  • To support the application of learning back at work (by 43%)
  • To access performance support back at work (37%)

When the number of mobile phones in the world now tops the number of people, it is unsurprising that individuals are also making mobiles their medium of choice for accessing the internet! In one of our recent learner audit studies, we found that individuals are most likely to access work related apps on their phones and tablets either at evening and weekends or on the way to or from work.

Increasingly, new staff are just as likely to request the ability to work on their own device as a perk of the job and companies are under pressure to implement a Bring-your-own device (BYOD) policy at work. An IBM report highlighted that 62% of individuals will be bringing their own devices to work by 2014.

There are more opportunities for L&D professionals to respond to the demand for mobile than ever before. Products such as Epic’s GoMo, Line Communication’s Linestream, Upside Learning’s Upside to go and mobile versions of Articulate and Captivate mean that mobile content creation is becoming faster and easier (getting the design and application right is important but not the subject of this article!).

Content opportunities abound but one of the challenges that many organisations face is around creating a level playing field for staff in their organisations. Only a fraction of staff have corporate mobile devices but this shouldn’t constrain the opportunity, given the hunger for individuals to use their own devices. In fact most personally owned devices probably have more power and are much more likely to be at the individual’s side when needed the most.

The mobile challenge
This is what is driving current trends about BYOD strategies into the workplace. Mobile content is often best suited to supporting performance at the point of need but this means working with content that is:

  • Updated regularly
  • Company sensitive
  • Accessible offline

However, this is often company sensitive information that many organisations do not want to fall into the hands of the competition.  It is not surprising that the top barrier associated with mobile learning is security!

The standoff
IT organisations have been struggling with how to manage the risk associated with staff using their own devices to access company sensitive information. The creation of enterprise app stores is one step that organisations can take to ensure that safe, company approved software and apps can be downloaded in a safe environment that maintains quality and reduces risk. They allow the distribution of content, but this content has to be managed. Currently, IT departments are turning to Mobile Device Management solutions to monitor, manage and support the wide range of mobile devices and operators within their network.

In fact, Gartner says that by 2017, 25% of organisations will have enterprise app stores for managing corporate sanctioned apps. MDM solutions meant that an individual’s own phone would be ultimately be remotely controlled as they protect both the data and configuration settings for all mobile devices in the network.

However, it is quickly becoming clear that not all individuals are comfortable with their organisation having a degree of control over their personal device. I read recently of an individual whose ipad had been wiped clean by his organisation. His son’s futile attempts to input his password to access the next level of Angry Birds was seen as a threat and the organisation took steps to ensure that company sensitive information would not fall into enemy hands. The company information was all recovered but he lost all of his personal data.

Staff are happy to use their own devices to access company related learning – they just don’t want to hand over control of their own devices to their organisation!

It is clear that, in order to leverage the opportunity that BYOD can bring to support learning and performance, an innovative new approach is needed to break the standoff between personal autonomy and control of the device and the security concerns around the content.

An innovative solution
Redware is an established provider of Learning Management Systems but wanted to direct their experience in learning and development to tackle this tricky challenge of managing content in a diverse mobile environment. They had to identify a solution that would provide freedom for individuals within the organisation to use their phones to access company sensitive information without their own devices being restricted or monitored by the organisation.  In considering the problem, they wanted to help companies to:

  • Get the right company sensitive information to the right people in a secure manner
  • Focus on securing the content rather than the device
  • Manage that content effectively (including deciding centrally who sees what content, who downloads what content and tracking who has completing the content)
  • Manage the removal of downloadable content (in effect,  wiping the data without affecting the device)
  • Ensure that content is tamper-proof so that any attempts to copy or forward it on would result in the data being digitally shredded

As a result, Redsource was born!  This gold winner of the Innovative New Product award helps organisations  to distribute learning materials to audiences of any size by combining an enterprise application store with a mobile application management system that focusses on securing content and not the device.

According to the bottle, Redsource provides an all-in-one solution to address the pain points of mobile learning.  So, what does this mean for L&D professionals looking to harness the power of mobile learning in their organisation?

Supporting a wide range of content
The mobile device is great for a wide range content types:

  • Standalone applications for delivering and supporting learning
  • Videos and podcasts to reinforce or update messages
  • Pdf Documents, presentations to provide performance support just at that point of need
  • Web links and bookmarks

Redsource treats videos, pdfs as assets, allowing the individual to cache them on download so that they are available off line. It provides links through to public app stores and provides access to native apps.

Redsource is capable of full app content delivery and updating, either through a clear call to action to the user or seamlessly in the background. It also expires content remotely in the background, dealing with the issue of time sensitive data.

Content Security
As one of the major points for organisations considering mobile or BYOD, security is embedded into every aspect of Redsource. Single Sign-on (SSO) is integrated seamlessly, enabling advanced security policies and measures to be created to suit the needs of the organisation. This is alongside features such as customisable session timeout, content expiration and activity reporting.

The judges found that one of the most impressive security feature of Redsource is leaver and user management. Not only can groups or individual users be assigned different security roles and have access to only the content they are privy to, but the organisation can ensure that if a piece of information expires, that information is pushed without the need for user involvement to the device and the content updated.

Alongside this, leaver management is a powerful toolset meaning content can be disabled on an individual or group of devices, rendering data or the app useless to the user. If necessary, a total wipe can be performed remotely, meaning that all traces of content are removed from the user’s device, all without affecting the device itself, wiping or disabling only the data which has arrived through the Redsource interface.

It also has added protection so that if a device is jail-broken or tampered with, the app will automatically remove its content, ensuring the safety of organisational data.

Learning Management
Redsource excels in user and organisational management. An organisation has the flexibility to group and categorise users, enabling the control of content to ensure it reaches the right people. With a full authorisation process, the content that reaches the end user will always be the right version, and, in the case of amendments and updates, they can be pushed remotely to devices so the most up to date information or resource is always available.

Powerful reporting means that with ease, organisations can see which content is being used most frequently, if a user has completed or interacted with certain materials or if they have completed objectives.

Utilising the latest technologies, such as HTML5 and the latest in Apple development practices, it integrates fully with the Redware LMS and provides integration with most other LMS software.

The verdict
User trials showed that the Redsource solution scored highly in the areas that are important to app users – ease of use and intuitive navigation. It performs well for individuals and having been chosen by Jaguar Land Rover for a global roll out across their dealerships and with that implementation in place, it is clear that Redsource is capable of handling learning objectives of all scales.

Security concerns about personal devices mean that the mobile learning landscape is in danger of excluding some learners in business who do not have a corporate mobile or who are uncomfortable in their own device being closely monitored. Redsource as a solution helps L&D professionals ensure that learning is inclusive and accessible to all, and could also be a god-send to IT departments under pressure to deliver a BYOD policy that meets both the organisation and individual’s needs!


Laura Overton
MD Towards Maturity
Twitter@lauraoverton
This case study has been written in as part of our good practice partnership with e-learning age magazine.

1st image by Chaiwat
2nd image by Stuart Miles

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