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Highlights from the ELS 2014 Panel Discussion: Training the Mobile Workforce

By Adib Masumian

According to the Yankee Group, 38% of American workers are part of the mobile workforce. The speed and flexibility of mobile training is imperative to enhancing the learning experience and productivity of the modern workforce. Organizations need systems, processes, and managers that can handle the growing mobile workforce effectively. This panel discussed how training strategy and tactics need to evolve to accommodate the movement away from the desk.

The panelists included:

  • Carl Hooker—Director for Instructional Technology, Eanes Independent School District
  • Dave Stachura—Sales Enablement Program Builder and Social Learning Learning Management Systems Expert, AMD
  • Marcus Turner—Chief Technology Officer, Atomic Axis

The panel was moderated by Sanjay Nasta, Chief Executive Officer of MicroAssist, Inc. and Atomic Axis and founder of the E-Learning Council.

In this blog post, I will cover some of the most salient talking points that the panelists discussed.

Sanjay kicked off the conversation by asking Carl about his justification for buying 8,000 iPads for Eanes school district. Carl responded by pointing out the importance that educators should be placing on “return on learning.” Leveraging technology can quantifiably level the playing field. Instead of accepting the traditional bell curve, where you have the best-performing students in the middle and stragglers and prodigies underperforming in the margins (either because the class is too easy or too hard), educators can place technology in the hands of students, which can empower them to participate in more critical, collaborative activity, bringing stragglers up to speed and keeping prodigies sufficiently engaged.

Carl also noted the importance of observing how students are developing 21st century skills. Thus, educators should focus on how students are collaborating in the classroom using technology, not old metrics like improved math scores. Carl closed his remarks by citing some encouraging statistics, such as how 85% of kids are more motivated to learn when they can enjoy more immediate access to educational technology. In addition, by making kids active learners, their retention has been shown to increase to a whopping 90% from only 5%.

Sanjay then went on to ask Marcus about one of his passions, the intersection of technology and learning, and why Marcus felt that this was such an important subject. Marcus started off by declaring that “technology is the ultimate platform.” This is especially true when it comes to mobile, chiefly because of mobile’s inherent just-in-time capabilities. Since most of us are now welded at the hip to mobile technology, we can see that being able to access bite-size bits of information on demand has never been this efficient—indeed, information as a whole has never been as readily available as it is to us today.

Afterwards, Sanjay proceeded to ask Dave about his conception of an ideal mobile workforce and what effectively training them would entail. Dave noted that mobile is absolutely the method of choice used by salespeople consume information. This includes training, too. Furthermore, Dave highlighted the importance of “meeting the sales force where they are”—in other words, if they’ve already got their phone on them all the time, then it would prove most effective to deliver the training over their phone during the lulls in their schedules, like when they’re in transit. This method, Dave contends, has a more lasting impact than forcing the salespeople to sit down for a scheduled training program. For example, attending a class on-site is a less convenient option for salespeople, and thus an immediately less appealing one. In such a scenario, attendees would be more likely to forget what they’ve learned more quickly than they would if the training were delivered to them on a mobile medium at a time convenient for them.

In sum, the panel yielded an enlightening discussion on the inroads mobile has made thus far into such disciplines as sales, education, and more. A video composed of segments from the panel discussion will be made available soon. In the meantime, please share your thoughts with us on the highlights we’ve written here.

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