When we think about how our training is consumed, most of us probably default to an image of a stuffy room filled with desktop computers. However, industry trends may be making that image obsolete, as more and more businesses are looking for ways to deliver training materials to employees wherever they are.
Recent surveys by Tech Pro Research indicate that nearly 75 percent of companies have, or are planning to implement, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Such policies are especially popular in businesses with fewer than 50 employees and are common in several health and safety-intensive industries; in fact, the manufacturing industry has one of the highest BYOD adoption rates, at 84 percent.
The ever-growing capabilities of these devices unlock new workplace dynamics, allowing employees to do more than ever before away from the computer. This includes regular health and safety training, which is as critical today as it’s ever been.
Approaches to teaching employees needs to evolve along with methods of content consumption. That doesn’t simply mean figuring out how to push out existing content, which may have been designed around an employee sitting at a computer terminal, to mobile platforms. It starts with taking a step back, figuring out how your audiences are taking your training and making sure that you’re designing content that will be effective on any screen.
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning a mobile delivery strategy:
Keep It Simple.
Keep in mind that what works on a 20-inch monitor may not work on a six-inch phone or even a nine-inch tablet. Small screens need more intuitive navigation and a tighter focus on the important takeaways, not to mention low-frills design. Ornate text, walls of words and complicated graphics will only muddy your intended message, which, when you’re dealing with health and safety topics, can put people at risk of serious injury.
Consider the Learning Environment.
Just because a training can be taken anywhere doesn’t mean we should expect users to prepare to spend an hour hunched over their phone. In fact, the opposite is true: The smaller the screen, the shorter you should expect a user to stay engaged with training. If you anticipate that users will be taking training on a mobile device, try breaking the course up into its essential concepts and planning short, focused training around each.
Choose the Right Authoring Program.
Now is the best time to be in the instructional design business. Many major authoring programs are available out of the box with the ability to publish projects for use in iOS and Android, as well as tools that allow you to preview what the project will look like on various devices. Most platforms also have the ability to publish using the HTML5 standard, which will allow your project to appear on virtually any device with a web browser.
Test, Test and Test Again (on Every Platform).
The most important part of safety training will always be the accuracy of the content, but the second-most important part should be making sure that the training works, and that it works everywhere you intend on letting people take it. Mobile-ready projects need to be able to run on multiple classes of device, operating systems and input methods (i.e., mice, styluses and fingers).
As smartphones and tablets find their way into more workplaces, a mobile-inclusive – or mobile-first – design strategy will likely become the norm. In the meantime, you can keep your content on the cutting edge by making sure it can be consumed anywhere and at any time.