Mobile Apps and Training

Some 42 percent of 2,793 recent training participants said they used mobile apps at least sometimes to very often with training.

By Mark Scullard, Director, Research, and Jeffrey Sugerman, President and CEO, Inscape Publishing

In our September 2009 Everything DiSC Pulse column, “Technology at Work,” we looked at which tools are used most frequently to help people do their jobs. Not surprisingly, the telephone was the No. 1 tool used. In addition, a high percentage of people also cited Internet search engines and specific Web pages as frequently used for work purposes. Fast forward two years—what’s changed?

Today, when you talk about a phone, you’re probably talking about a cell or mobile phone. There’s also a good chance you’re not talking about the telephone/calling function at all. You’re talking about everything else you can do on that phone: e-mail, Web browsing, listening to music, watching movies, shopping online, watching YouTube videos. The list goes on and on. The mobile phone has made everything mobile. Add to that iPads and various other tablets and you have a lot of mobility. So what does this mean for training?

We asked 2,793 recent training participants about the use of mobile devices and apps in the workplace. Of our respondents, 42 percent said they used mobile apps at least sometimes to very often with training. Outside the realm of training, however, usage really gears up. The most common uses, of course, were e-mailing and texting. In addition, nearly half of respondents said they used their mobile device sometimes to very often for gathering research and for setting up meetings. And 26 percent of respondents said they use their mobile device for developing work-related skills.

We were also curious if people were self-motivated to use mobile apps on the job. As it turns out, they are. Nearly half of our respondents had downloaded a mobile app to improve their job performance—even though their employer did not require it. So what kinds of apps are training participants interested in? More than half of respondents said they would use a mobile app to help them connect with online training or resources. There was a tie for second place: Some 47 percent said they would use an app to help review the content of the course and to practice skills learned in training courses. (An additional 39 percent said they would use an app to help rehearse a new skill through a simulation.) And a third of respondents said they’d use a mobile app to apply learning to conversations with colleagues or customers.

What does this mean for trainers? Don’t disregard mobile for training opportunities. Consider making your online tools mobile-friendly or creating mobile versions. Cheat sheets or user guides are also perfect for mobile. And mobile is a great platform for post-training reinforcement; consider apps for skill practice and reinforcement.

Mark Scullard is the director of research at Inscape Publishing, a provider of training materials for the corporate market. He has more than a decade of research and data analysis experience in the development of psychological evaluation tools and methods. Scullard received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota, with a supporting program in statistics.

Jeffrey Sugerman is the president and CEO of Inscape Publishing. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior management, marketing, and business development in the technology, training, and publishing industries. Sugerman holds doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern University.

Scullard and Sugerman are the co-authors of “The 8 Dimensions of Leadership: DiSC Strategies for Becoming a Better Leader.”

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.