A Higher Calling

Smartphones have morphed into multimedia creation, receiving, and learning devices that allow learners to pull knowledge out of thin air anywhere, anytime.

What is the fastest-growing media platform on the market today? Hint: It outsells computers, MP3 players, and game consoles by orders of magnitude.

You guessed it: smartphones.

“For more information, call and find out more about this unique offer today.”

Calling a number to find out information? Why, that sounds a lot like…ta da: learning.

Smartphones have morphed into multimedia creation and receiving devices (that are occasionally used for phone calls!). We now have mobile learning—or at least a few early adopting organizations do. Mobile learning can be structured live using either conference calls or Webinars, and text messaging can be utilized. It can be either interactive or like a 30- to 60- second commercial—or both. Mobile learning can be both structured and casual; it can be both synchronous and asynchronous.


Who are the early adopters of mobile learning? I see three segments of the learning community that are taking the lead in the delivery mode:

  1. College students
  2. Commuters
  3. Corporations—especially for the field sales and service forces

College students represent a learner group already comfortable with the multifaceted functionality of smartphones and have social circles that already include this technology as part of their culture. There are peer-to-peer study groups that utilize a central server (often cloud based) to assist people with linking up and exchanging information. Additionally, some colleges provide tools to professors to create lecture notes, one-minute summaries, or complete mobile classrooms.

Meanwhile, commuters (specifically, train, plane, and bus riders) have time to grab one-minute training or learning opportunities while enroute. Again, the structure of these types of courses must fit the medium and the time available to learners. Additionally, commuters could sign up to take courses via the mobile classroom. This often falls under the category of microlearning.

And, of course, corporations use mobile learning to deliver quick training and refreshers to their employees. This segment already is comfortable with conference calling and also is adopting Webbased conferencing at a quickening pace.


What are the keys to mobile delivery? Fitting the message to the medium, and high production and content quality.

Want to learn how to do it well? Watch nightly news and cooking shows. Keep it short, keep it interesting, tell a story, don’t exceed the video resolution and display dimensions, and always assume the learning will be interrupted by another cell call (or more likely, text message!) or by ambient distractions—because it will.

Right now I am engaging my learners with their smartphones or tablets before, during, and after face-to-face training and Webinars, as well as delivering microlearning to participants after any of these events. I use 17 different ways to engage and help them get results back on the job. Here are just five:

  1. Q&A: Participants can ask questions and then “like” any of the other questions submitted. This allows me to answer some questions live if we are synchronous and record and push out answers to other questions later.
  2. Video coaching: Participants can submit videos made with their smartphones, and I can record my feedback/coaching tips.
  3. Poll/survey: I use this before, during, and after learning events to help me and other participants learn about the people participating in an event—either live or online—to get feedback during an event and for follow-up to document results after implementation.
  4. Microlearning/reinforcement: For example, after any live event, I can push out short pieces of content that remind participants of key principles in the program, with a challenge to share how they’ve been using it—and the results. This can be seen by all participants, which encourages and challenges all learners.
  5. Raffle/drawing: At any point during or after learning events, I can ask learners for their most important learning or the thing they’ve implemented that has driven the most value. As learners submit content, they can “like” any of the other submissions. After the cutoff, I can randomly select learners to receive a prize that relates to the content.

So let me challenge and engage you. Here’s a link (https://rebrand.ly/askBobPike) that will take you to a survey that asks this: What’s the one question about training and performance you’d like to ask Bob? Follow the link and ask me your question. As a thank you, I’ll send you a free digital copy of my new book, “The Expert’s Guide to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to Training.” I’ll answer your questions in my future columns. So respond today.

Until next time—continue to add value and make a difference!

Bob Pike, CSP, CPLP FELLOW, CPAESpeakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Expert’s Guide to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to Training.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.

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