A mobile learning platform can deliver content; that’s obvious. But when Guy Sellwood, VP of Americas for Prosell Learning, was working with a team to design onboarding training for Comcast, he decided that just pushing content was not enough.
New sales hires at Comcast complete eLearning and participate in “ride-alongs,” where they shadow an experienced salesperson for a day. Sellwood sensed an opportunity. “How do you know what they learned?” Sellwood asked the managers.
“We don’t,” came the reply.
Sellwood’s team suggested using mobile devices to get the new hires to reflect on what they had learned during the ride-along. “We suggested sending questions at the end of the day about key points they learned on tools and products,” he said.
Comcast adopted the team’s ideas; now, each learner receives prompts to answer open-ended questions at the end of a ride-along. Responses are shared with the learner’s manager or coach. The questions accomplish two goals: For one, they prompt the learners to reflect on their experience and dig out the lessons they’ve learned. “We know that reflection turns into actions,” Sellwood said. The questioning also triggers a conversation, possibly via an LMS or on email, with a manager or mentor. These conversations create opportunities for additional coaching and learning, as well as providing reinforcement and feedback to the learner.
Sending questions via learners’ mobile devices was just the beginning. “Obviously these guys have iPads,” Sellwood said. “The easy way would be to push content. But we thought about other types of interactions and other tools, like the camera.” The team ultimately designed an onboarding package that included interactions using mobile devices, experiential activities, and eLearning.
During their training, new hires attend a “boot camp.” Each learner used to be asked to deliver a five-minute “history of Comcast” presentation on the first day of the boot camp. “Can you imagine—20 people each giving a five-minute presentation?” Sellwood asked. Instead, his team suggested, why not invite trainees to create videos using their tablet during their field training? Now, the new hires create short videos and share them with the others in their training cohort prior to the boot camp, which builds relationships and fosters collaboration.
Using video, FaceTime, and other tools on the tablets has opened up additional possibilities for moving learning out to the field. For example, Sellwood said, new engineers now take photos as they perform an installation process and run a speed test at the end of the installation. They share these photos with a manager or supervisor who can check their work and provide feedback. This moves “testing” and verification to the field, allows new hires to demonstrate their proficiency, and eliminates training that is far removed from actual application of the needed skills.
The team has even implemented mobile-based learning to replace promotion exams for Comcast engineers. An early implementation in Florida, where many of the engineers use English as a second language (ESL), was warmly embraced by the engineers. “Engineers start as level 1, and to move up to level 2, they had to pass an exam,” Sellwood explained. Now, the engineers demonstrate their expertise by taking photos and video as they perform required procedures in the field.
“When Comcast presented this in Florida, they received a standing ovation,” Sellwood said. As ESL speakers, many of the engineers said they lacked confidence when taking exams in English—or they believed that their poor English masked their competence. They felt unable to demonstrate their engineering skills, and they were struggling to earn promotions despite their proficiency. With the new approach, they can show managers that they are skilled engineers by demonstrating their ability where it matters—on the job.
Do you want to learn more about accelerating learning using mobile strategies? Guy Sellwood is presenting a session at FocusOn Learning 2017 Conference & Expo in San Diego, California, June 20 – 22: Using Mobile to Take the Classroom to the Field.
At FocusOn Learning, dozens of additional sessions will allow you to take a deep dive into mobile eLearning strategies and best practices.