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Weighing up mobile learning options

What you’re about to read is a fable about custom mobile learning technology. AshCom is a fictional company, but the mobile learning challenges that Kathryn, AshCom’s CLO, and their team face are real and are often shared by learning teams across corporations, nonprofits, associations and educational institutions. We hope you can connect with the characters, their challenges, and the solutions they discover. We also invite you to read the first eBook in the series.

eBook publication

How L&D Executives Use Mobile Learning to Increase Performance and Revenue

Use mobile learning to increase the performance of your employees and to close organizational gaps!

The handshake

It was more than a friendly greeting. The introductory handshake between the two colleagues eight months ago marked the beginning of a significant professional partnership between the two executives. While their roles at AshCom varied widely, their goal became the same: to help increase sales.

Kathryn’s role as Chief Learning Officer was not only to lead her team, but also to launch new learning initiatives. Ronda, the newly added Vice-President of Sales, wanted to introduce a new sales system that would change the way her team of nearly 300 account managers approach sales. It would be a combination of new ways of thinking, new processes, new approaches and new software. Her previous success with the system she developed was the main reason AshCom retired her from her sales role with one of the largest medical device manufacturers in the world.

To achieve her goals, Ronda believed that the learning experiences needed to be carried over to mobile devices. The initial discussion between Kathryn and Ronda resulted in a series of meetings for

Kathryn’s learning team examining the strengths and weaknesses of mobile learning, authoring tools, learning management systems and creativity.

Custom mobile learning apps: the technical possibilities

Kathryn invited Professor Dan Nichols for a day to meet with her team and talk about technical approaches that might solve some of their problems. One of Kathryn’s team members, Alishia, graduated with a masters degree in educational design, and Dan was one of her professors.

Dan, as everyone called him, had a Ph.D. in computer science, but also had a solid understanding of instructional design.

Dan spent a full day with Kathryn’s team pondering the options for creating courses and delivering learning experiences through mobile devices. When the day-long meeting ended, Kathryn asked for a follow-up interview with Dan.

“I want to thank you for your time with us,” Kathryn started the call. “You gave my team a lot to think about. The possibility of individually created content is certainly interesting for our team, as is the possible development of an app. “

“I’m glad I was able to help,” said Dan. “What else can I do for you?”

Kathryn replied, “I would like to invite you to another meeting. This is a big initiative for AshCom and I think we need to get key stakeholders together in the same room for a couple of hours. I don’t think I need our entire study team, but I need a few people that I will choose. I want our VP of Sales, Ronda, to be there because it all started with her new approach to sales. Of course, I would like to include our CFO as this will certainly have budgetary implications. And I want you to join us. Can we get access to you for a few hours later this week? “

“I’d love to do that,” Dan replied. “Is there any chance that Friday at 2:30 p.m. will work for you? I’m sure Friday meetings are not everyone’s favorite time, but it sounds like you have some urgency. “

“We do,” replied Kathryn, “and Friday afternoons are usually available to most of us. Let me check with the others and I’ll get in touch with you later today. “

Who should be involved?

After they hung up, Kathryn spent a little time thinking about who on her team should be involved. She knew she wanted Amy, a consultant on her team who also advised other large companies and was a good source of benchmarking.

She also wanted Martina and Darryl, two of her teaching designers who had remarkable artistic skills and who were the first to point out the creative limits of their current authoring tools and learning management system. Darryl was out with his family on Friday, but Martina was available.

The two key people were Ronda, VP of Sales, and Kurtis, Chief Financial Officer at AshCom. Kurtis was new to the discussion about mobile learning, so Kathryn asked for 30 minutes to give him an overview of her thinking and invite him to the meeting on Friday. Kurtis quickly realized the basics of the need and made a commitment to join the others.

What is at stake?

Kathryn spent several hours thinking about how to approach this very important meeting. She concluded that she needed to outline the key principles at stake, work through the options to meet Ronda’s need for robust mobile learning, and then ask each one a single question: What is most important to you?

Knowing each person’s priorities at the meeting would help them understand each other. Kathryn hoped the solution would be obvious by the end of the exercise.

Everyone was on time for the Friday meeting. After briefly introducing each person and their role in the discussion, Kathryn followed the plan she had developed.

“I want to start with what I think is the great principle of our discussion,” said Kathryn. She went to the whiteboard and wrote “Sales = Lifeblood of AshCom” at the top.

“I’m pretty sure this is a core belief of the Ash family and AshCom leadership. That’s why they worked so hard to get Ronda. That is why this discussion is so important. Whatever we end up doing, I think we need to keep that in mind and do whatever we can to strengthen our sales team. Your performance has a strong impact on all of us. “

Building a learning experience

When everyone nodded in agreement, Kathryn continued, “We need to create a learning experience for the account managers that will allow them to learn, do and accept the new sales system that Ronda is implementing. The learning solution must be what Ronda described in our first meeting: ‘elegant’. “

She continued, “I had several meetings with our team to achieve this goal. Professor Dan was incredibly helpful. Ronda did their own research and spent a lot of time talking to their salespeople about the best solution for them. And we’ve come to the conclusion that mobile delivery is the best option. But this solution has to be robust, world-class and, back to a word Ronda used when we first met, “elegant”. “

“It seems to me that there are two other important considerations,” said Kathryn. “We have to consider costs and timing. We know that some of the options we are considering certainly require a larger budget and take longer than our normal development process. Here are, in my opinion, the four options for creating the kind of mobile learning experience Ronda wants for their team. “

Sale = elixir of life

On the whiteboard again Kathryn wrote the following under “Sales = Lifeblood”:

Option 1: Use the latest authoring tools and LMS

Option 2: Custom author content, but provide it in our LMS

Option 3: Use the latest authoring tools and create an app

Option 4: develop a custom experience and create an app

Underneath, Kathryn wrote “Other considerations: $$$ and time”.

Before continuing, Kathryn asked if anyone disagreed with her summary of needs and options, or if she was missing something.

Apply the learning science

Kurtis replied, “I know I’m the least knowledgeable person here when it comes to science learning. It is certainly not my specialty, as you know. But Kathryn spent a little time guiding me through this topic a few days ago, and at least I understand the decisions. “

Ronda spoke next. “That sums it up well for me. I’m on board. “

Everyone else in the conference room agreed with Kathryn’s overall summary, and so she went on. “I want each of you to talk about what matters most to you in this discussion about sales learning and mobile learning. I know some of you very well, having worked with you for a while. Dan, you are new to the group, but I hope you are familiar with the way we work. “

Dan nodded.

“So I would ask about the unvarnished truth of what is on your mind today. I think this is the best way to make a decision together. Is everyone ready to commit to this approach? “
Since everyone agreed with her summary and approach, Kathryn decided to give the group a short break of five minutes. She had brought some snacks and thought it would be a good idea to give those present a chance to eat and gather their thoughts.

“Ronda, just so you know,” said Kathryn, “when we get back together, I want you to start.”


To read the rest of this series on mobile learning and see how Kathryn and her team solve their challenges, please download the eBook on How L&D Executives Use Mobile Learning to Increase Performance and Revenue. It can help you determine whether custom mobile learning is the right approach for your business and uncover best practices. Also, attend the webinar to learn how custom mobile learning apps can empower sales teams.

eBook publication: Inno-Versity


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