Smartphone learning apps risk excluding some employees

Learning tools should not be limited to smartphone apps to avoid alienating employees who may be less digitally literate.

Speaking at this week’s Learning Technologies conference, David Kelly, executive director at The eLearning Guild, said training providers should ensure that employees who do not regularly use technology such as smartphones or tablets are catered for when they are creating digital learning content.

“If you are creating content that is just digital, then you’re probably breaching some form of right. Not everybody has a smartphone, so you need to offer paper-based learning, or on a PC too,” he said.

Kelly and learning consultant Steve Wheeler noted that, although the majority of people now had a smartphone and it could be seen as an easy medium to deliver training, it may not always be the most productive method of learning.

They said most everyday smartphone apps were designed for a particular task and were not necessarily developed to teach users, which could affect users’ attitudes when using learning and development apps. As a result, they may not always get all the learning they need out of them.

Kelly explained that if digital training delivery was chosen, learners who were less comfortable with the technology needed to be given an incentive in order to engage with the content.

For learners who were more comfortable with digital methods, Wheeler said the chance to use new technology was enough of an incentive.

“They’re all eager to participate in [the training] because it makes the experience fun,” he added.

Kelly advised that in order to evolve their learning strategies, organisations needed to look at the learning programmes they provide and consider what would be the least disruptive way of doing things differently. Otherwise, he said, they could risk alienating their staff.

Wheeler said more mobile learning methods meant that organisations could consider doing away with training rooms, as “learning can be done at any time in any place”.

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