Using Mobility For ‘Live’ Performance Support

Some tasks are better taught and performed with ‘live’ performance support. Read on to see an analysis of three such types of tasks as well as a case study presenting a possible solution and considerations for its successful implementation.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How To Boost Your Workforce Performance With Mobile Apps?

Boosting Your Workforce Performance With Mobile Apps  

An interesting aspect of mLearning or mobile learning is the usage of mobile apps for learning. In this article, I will outline how mobile apps can be a meaningful addition to your overall learning strategy. I will also share 3 examples to illustrate how you can use them for primary or formal online learning as well as to supplement it through informal learning.

In my earlier article Mobile Apps For Learning, I had provided a detailed view on how mobile apps can be integrated into your learning strategy. This article had originally appeared in CrossKnowledge’s Learning Wire Blog. Here are a couple of extracts from the same to establish the background.

What Are Mobile Apps For Learning?

Mobile Apps are one of the delivery formats that offer the additional flexibility of offline viewing of the eLearning course to the learners from their mobile devices. (They need to have an internet access to download the course and then they can view it with/without the internet connection. However, to track their progress through the Learning Management System, they must be connected to the internet as only then can their progress information be passed on to the Learning Management System).

Where Do Mobile Apps Find The Right Fit In Today’s Learning Strategy?

Mobile apps can be used equally effectively to offer formal training (bite-sized) or supplement formal training. But this is not all. Performance Support Tools (PSTs) (particularly Ready Reckoners, Checklists, Tips, and so on) are designed to be made available to learners within their work-flow. Making them accessible to the learners on their mobile devices encourages them to use it on the job. Hence, Performance Support Tools are a great fit for mobile apps.

  • For primary learning (formal training).
    They can be used for primary learning provided they are packed as micro-learning nuggets.
  • As a supplement to formal training. 
    1. Mobile Apps are a good fit to provide pre and post assessments for formal training (online or blended).
    2. They can be effectively used as practice sessions or reinforcements of formal training through Videos/Examples/Scenarios.

Let’s take a look at a few examples that illustrate how we have used mobile apps to provide an edge to the existing learning delivery.

Example 1: We have made available parts of Induction program as a mobile app. This has provided new employees with the flexibility to read part of the information in offline mode.

EI Design Mobile app for induction

Example 2: We have created a gamified app on time management to help learners practice time management exercises. This supports the primary, formal course on time management fundamentals and serves as a fun supplement.

EI-Design-mlearning-app-PST-2

Example 3: We created an app for a Tobacco company (as a learning and sales promotion tool). The app was designed for the company’s distributors and contained gamified questions on their products. The reward element comes in the form of vouchers that the learners obtain after achieving a certain score.

EI-Design-mlearning-app-PST 3

Example 4: We created an app to have learners curate content generated by them to their organization’s portal on Health and Safety. The idea was to create a learning community that is engaged in the corporate mandate of Health and Safety and works towards flagging instances that can be potentially hazardous.

Usage of mobile apps is limited only by your imagination. We, at EI Design, have used them in multiple ways extending to informal (including Performance Support) and social learning models. In a bite-sized mode, it can also be used for formal training.

If you have any queries on how you can integrate mobile apps meaningfully into your learning strategy, do contact me.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

5 Key Holistic Principles For Performance Support Applications

Holistic Principles For Performance Support Applications 

A quote that resonates with designers is:

justbecauseyoucan

As eLearning designers, our years of experience, practice and study enables many of us to look at projects and know which rules to follow or break.  The growing prevalence of the Experience API, the Internet of Things (IOT); and mobile and wearable devices may soon challenge this confidence.  We may soon be required to design and create performance support applications to support these technologies, rather than relying on our traditional eLearning solutions.

This may seem daunting as designing apps for wearables and other mobile devices is probably a new area for many of us. Don’t let a lack of experience, practice, or study in these emerging areas get you down. You can succeed in these environments by adopting a holistic perspective to your design decisions.

By approaching your design from a holistic perspective, i.e. the whole users experience with your product, you can gain some key insights into what you should do as opposed to what you can do.  Below are some holistic principles that can provide this direction and guidance.

1. Present.

We’ve all experienced the family, couple, or group disengaged from each other as their mobile devices are out and in use. Even when alone, we all too often tend to disengage ourselves from our immediate environments by busily documenting and sharing our experiences for online consumption rather than remaining “present” in our environments. How many experiences are diluted because participants are only partially present or engaged? Our performance tools and apps will need to consider this dilemma as they disengage our users from their immediate environments. This represents a problem as they will interrupt interactions and lead to multitasking. These weak experiences will not create satisfaction or high outputs from our users.

Keeping your users engaged and in their present activities should be a key focus of your apps.

Ways to do this include:

  • gottsAlerts and notifications used within your performance applications have to be relevant.
    Limit distractions and interruptions from your app so that users can live in the present.
  • Use the appropriate level of alert and type for your performance application.
    Some alerts are more intrusive than others and should only be used for high priority information.
  • Key information in your application needs to be represented via the UI (user interface), rather than communicated through notifications.
    In this regard, if the information needs to be actively monitored, a notification every 5 seconds isn’t useful— the user needs to be actively monitoring that information through an interface item.
  • Include Do Not Disturb and other features within your app that limit interruptions.
    These features have to be straightforward to activate and deactivate.
  • Use context capabilities to make your apps aware of user activities and preferences.
    These features should be used to make your app adaptive and evolving. In particular, you should use Gottfredson’s 5 moments of learning need to guide your context needs.
  • Enable self-monitoring and automation abilities within your app.
    Add IFTT recipes or similar technologies and allow users to set up custom recipes will limit distractions and improve efficiencies.
  • Use your recommendation engines for more than just present activities.
    Being able to see ahead and prepare your users for future environments will help them live in the present for those activities.

2. Diverse.

Recommendation engines are used to facilitate content distribution. These engines look at user preferences as well as histories to identify content that users might want or need. As organizations get better at connecting data profiles, our performance apps will employ these tools to identify gaps in performance and their associated learning opportunities.

A problem Netflix, FacebookSpotify, and others continue to face with their recommendation engines is diversity. In this regard, using simple algorithms or relying on Subject Matter Expert (SME) curation can create filter bubbles where users only see/access a narrow set of content options. In business this could polarize environments and limit ideas. To innovate and form deep understanding, users have to be exposed to divergent thoughts, ideas, and voices.

If your learning solutions are providing content in the form of articles, videos, and other media to address learning gaps, you need to challenge your users by giving them different viewpoints, levels of content and types of content. Exposing users to a variety of sources should be a key focus.

Ways to do this include:

  • Identify rich content streams that provide multiple sources, viewpoints and perspectives.
  • Enable user submitted content to create new sources, experts and categories of information. 
  • Monitor and update aggregators, filters and analytics to address evolving needs. 
  • Ensure aggregators and filters parse and highlight required content.
    By providing quick summaries and metadata users will be able to quickly self-filter content.
  • Add filters and options that allow users to include or exclude content streams.
    Letting users decide what information is important to them will allow them to customize content.
  • Identify experts and influencers in your user’s networks and tailor content around their use.
    Highlight what it is that experts like, respond to, or submit.
  • Distribute a variety of content to your audience.
    Your aggregators shouldn’t solely focus on articles, posts, and other traditional content. Use your tools to identify events, mentors, and other experiences.
  • Distribute differing levels of content to your audience.
    Content needs for your users will vary. Make sure you mix up the content levels so that novices, normal users, and experts remain engaged.
  • Use analytics to identify user preferences and needs.
    This can create opportunities for adaptive learning environments, e.g. take a user who prefers videos (they watch them more frequently) but performs better after using forums (they complete work faster). With this knowledge, you could update that user’s stream to highlight forums over video.

3. Reflecting. 

Performance support tools like job-aids, help files, and wizards are designed to bypass the learning function. Their use is appealing as they allow users to perform their primary tasks without having to internalize a large amount of information.

This e-memory has great potential in making our employees efficient and productive; however, problems occur with these tools when true expertise is needed. With their use, deviations or new variables can throw off a user’s outcome. In addition when time is critical, searching for and using a performance tool may not be appropriate.

With apps and devices, a goal of our performance tools should be to move users toward mastery. To do this, your apps will require more than just alerts, notifications and aggregation. Moving your users toward mastery will require practice, repetition, and feedback.

Ways to incorporate these activities include:

  • Provide simple user input features by allowing users to rate, comment, share and submit new content.
    Participation in these activities requires some level of reflection and judgment on their part and will help them organize and internalize information.
  • Provide complex user input features by allowing users to record or livestream their performance.
    These activities can allow for rich feedback opportunities from mentors or crowd-sourced communities. Wearable devices may limit your options in this regard. To lessen this issue, examine how your apps can work in conjunction with wearable and other mobile devices.  For instance, a wearable may provide the alert, which triggers the user to interact with the app on their mobile device.
  • Incorporate interface features to analyze information and provide meta-cognitive support/responsive coaching.
    Innovative examples of responsive coaching and feedback include Watch Me Write, 94Fifty, Pplkpr.

4. Attentive. 

Increasingly our expectation of technology is that it is attentive to our needs and wants. Technology needs to be responsive to what we are doing and where we are at. In this regard, an app on a device is no longer a user’s final destination or experience with that app data.

Users may start a search on a smartphone and then complete a purchase of that item on a laptop or tablet. In this multi-screen world, apps work in conjunction with each other across devices.  Expectations are that the data within these apps will seamlessly follow each user. Part of this transition is updating app interfaces to support the limitations of certain device types (watch, phone, tablet, and laptop) or to highlight specific advantages of certain device types.

For example, a complex UI can’t easily be created for an app on a smart watch, but that app can serve to collect relevant data that may be used by a different device. At a later point in time, a tablet or laptop might be used to render that data in a format that is attentive to that user’s goals for that moment.

Your users will often use multiple devices to accomplish their goals and your performance apps should support this need.

Ways to do this include:

  • Let mobile and wearable use cases define interaction needs within your applications. 
  • Where appropriate design for sequential tasks. 
    Your app may use wearables as a tickler to get users to jump into their phone/tablet. To support this, let users save their progress or automatically synch data across devices.
  • Responsive design needs to be used appropriately.
    Don’t try to make your apps responsive to devices that do not meet your core interaction requirements.

5. Secure. 

Data will be a critical component of your performance support applications—collecting, organizing and acting on this data will drive your apps. As such, organizations should focus on protecting user data as well as using it ethically.

If this fails to happen, users may not embrace your applications or your organization may be open to legal disputes.  Ways to make security a focus include:

  • Only collect data that is needed.
    Any data collected should be tied to business decisions or used to drive recommendation engines.
  • Ensure that your analytics are vetted against unfair bias.
    Protect your organization against inequality claims or disparate impact.
  • Give users access to their data.
    Provide them with easy and quick ways to access their data.
  • Clearly define data use and minimize revisions.
    Your terms of use should minimize jargon and change only when absolutely necessary. In this regard, your users should always be aware of what you collect, how you collect it and how the data will be used.
  • Make opting in and out of data collection activities quick and easy.
  • Ensure that user ratings and values are meaningful and validated.
    Remove features that would allow users to easily game the system.
  • Follow labor and work laws.
    Don’t collect data, send alerts or engage in any activities during off hours as this may break labor laws.
  • Coordinate with your IS groups to ensure that any collected data is protected, secure and meets internal system requirements.

Putting It All Together

A holistic perspective can help you take a bigger look at the user experience. This 10,000 foot view can help you see what a user will try to accomplish with your tool. can-should

Rather than adding a plethora of new features and functions within your apps just because you can, a holistic approach will keep you focused on what your users really care about.

The ultimate success of your performance support tools will depend on their ability to meet your unique performance problems. As you analyze these problems, you may find the need to place greater emphasis on particular holistic values covered in this article, e.g. Security vs. Reflection. Regardless of whichever values you choose to focus on, considering and using holistic guidelines can help you answer the fundamental Can I versus Should I design dilemmas.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Use Mobile Performance Support To Enhance Customer Service

How To Use Mobile Performance Support To Enhance Customer Service

Customer service representatives are the heart of the organization, ensuring that customer needs are met and increasing the customer loyalty and contentment within the company. They are the ones that deal with complaints, returns, and any other task that helps to improve the overall customer experience. This is why it's imperative that they receive the support and training they need to get the job done. In this article I'll share 6 tips you can use to create a successful mobile performance support strategy to enhance customer service.

  1. Figure out what you want to achieve beforehand.
    The first step in developing a mobile performance support strategy for customer service is to determine your goals and objectives. Do you want to boost your customer contentment rating? Does your customer service staff need to improve specific skill sets? Are there processes that they aren't carrying out effectively? Knowing what you want to achieve will give you the ability to design a plan that is custom tailored in order to meet the needs of your organization and your staff.
  2. Give them access to manuals and tutorials when they need them the most. 
    More often than not, customer service staff needs access to information that can help them complete tasks and learn about company policies and procedures immediately. For example, if they are helping a customer with an exchange, they won't be able to go into the training room on-site and complete the respective module. Instead, they need “moment of need” online  training that they can access whenever, wherever. They need to be able to review company manuals and tutorials on the spot, so that they can complete the task at hand and avoid a frustrated and dissatisfied customer. To offer them “moment of need” online training, focus on the tasks they do regularly or issues that they encounter on a daily basis. If they carry out returns, refunds, and sales on an average work day, for instance, you will want to ensure that they have tutorials or walkthroughs that outline every step in the process, or offer advice for typical situations they may have to face from time to time.
  3. Keep them up-to-date with current promotions or products.
    While the sales team may be in charge of actually selling the products you offer, the customer service staff will have to deal with returns, exchanges, and make customers aware of current promotions you are running. Mobile performance support gives you the opportunity to keep your customer service team updated on current sales and new products, so that they can help you customers with their purchases. This means increased buyer confidence, increased customer contentment, and an improved bottom line.
  4. Create mobile learning videos, scenarios, and simulations to offer immediate support.
    You can create mobile learning videos, simulations, and presentations, that are “bite-sized”, which means that they can be completed within a matter of minutes on the sales floor. As such, your employees can get an interactive mobile training experience right away, so that they are able to go about their work day equipped with the knowledge they need to provide excellent customer service. For example, you can develop a scenario that encourages them to do POS (Point of Sale) transactions, or deal with an impatient customer and a more complicated purchase. This will build their confidence, as they are given the opportunity to learn in a risk-free environment. Then, when they do have to deal with an actual difficult customer or actual complicated transactions, they will have the tools and knowledge they need already stored in their long term memory.
  5. Measure the results periodically.
    The only way your mobile performance support strategy is going to be truly effective is if you are able to have proof that it is, in fact, improving your customer service. This may require you to assess your customer service team from time to time, to make sure that they know about the latest products, any changes to processes that they carry out on a regular basis, and how to most effectively deliver the best customer experience. You can track their statistics to see how long they take to complete modules and to view how often they are accessing the mobile training. Have them complete periodic exams that gauge whether or not they understand the company brand and image. After all, they are the face of the company in many respects, which means that they have to reflect the image you are striving to portray to your customers.
  6. Continually improve your mobile performance support strategy.
    Most importantly, you have to look at your performance support strategy as a constantly evolving plan. The online training needs of your organization and customer service staff will most likely change over time. Additional skills or tasks will have to be integrated into your online training, or compliance rules and regulations may change over time, making it necessary to modify your eLearning content. Periodically assess your mobile performance support strategy to ensure that you are giving your employees the tools and information they need to do their job effectively, and to offer your customers the service they deserve.

Use these mobile performance support tips to give your customer service staff the added support they need to do their job effectively. While it may require resources, ensuring that your customers are happy and keep coming back is well worth the investment.

Customer service is just one department that can benefit from mobile performance support. Read the article 6 Tips To Use Mobile Performance Support For Your Sales Team to also offer your sales team with the many advantages of an effective mobile performance support strategy.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Use Mobile Performance Support For Your Sales Team

How To Use Mobile Performance Support For Your Sales Team

With an increasing number of employees now using their mobile devices on-the-job, it seems only natural to integrate mobile performance support into your corporate learning and development strategy. But how do you offer your sales department the information and skills they need to boost sales and improve customer satisfaction, without spending a lot of money or time in the process? Creating a mobile performance support plan for your organization that offers the best ROI doesn't have to be a headache. Here are a few tips that can help you to get the most out of your training and development budget by offering your sales force the tools they need to seal the deal and improve your company's bottom line.

  1. Determine your performance goals in advance.
    The first, and arguably most important step, in developing a successful mobile performance support strategy for your sales team is to figure out what you hope to achieve, by assessing your performance goals. What exactly do you want to accomplish with your mobile performance support training or tools? Be as specific as possible, and ask yourself what your sales team truly needs. Do you want them to boost their sales figures? Do they need to know about the specs of your new products? Once you identify a clear goal, figure out what steps you need to take in order to reach this goal, as this will allow you to develop your mobile performance support strategy.
  2. Opt for features and functions ideally suited for your own business needs.
    There are a lot of mobile performance support solutions available today, and each one offers its own unique set of benefits. However, if you truly want to get the most out of your mobile training strategy, then you'll want to find the one that offers the specific functions and features that your organization needs. You might have heard about a tool with myriads of features and capabilities, but are all these necessary to your sales team, or can you opt for a less expensive mobile tool to get the job done? To choose the perfect tools, assess the specific challenges facing your sales force today, and its current objectives.
  3. Do your research to address their moments of need.
    The thing that you need to keep in mind when developing your mobile performance support strategy is that it's all about the moment of need. Rather than focusing on creating a lifelong learning experience, simply concentrate on the issues that your team will need to be remedied during a typical work day. Figure out what they will need to learn during their moment of need, such as when they are meeting with a client or delivering a sales pitch to a customer. This will allow you to design activities, learning materials, and resources that cater to their specific needs and offer them the timely information they require at critical points in time. Develop quick and concise, but still highly informative,  bite sized learning modules, that would, for example, cater to busy adult learners, that give them a rapid understanding of key ideas or product data, or a 5 minute scenario that walks them through a job related task.
  4. Periodically assess your sales team.
    Your mobile performance support strategy is only going to be effective if you can see the results. To measure your results, why not periodically assess your sales force by developing regular knowledge checks or by tracking employees' stats. While a boost in sales can give you an indication that your mobile performance support strategy is working, being able to monitor the progress of each member of your sales force and to verify that they each have the knowledge and skills they need can further enhance your profit margins. Ask them to complete a quiz that gauges their understanding of a new product line, or check your stats to see which employees are actually using the program and how often they are using it.
  5. Continually update your mobile performance support system.
    This tip is particularly important for organizations who may have products, services, or even certain compliance regulations that are constantly changing. For instance, if your company offers a new line of products every season, you will want to ensure that your sales force stays up-to-date and has all of the information they need to keep your customers informed. For compliance training, making sure that your employees know about the latest rules or state-enforced regulations can help you to avoid penalties and fees.
  6. Choose eLearning tools that supports a wide range of platforms/devices.
    Chances are, the members of your sales team don't all own the same mobile device or tablet. As such, you'll want to choose a Learning Management System and an eLearning Authoring tool that supports a wide range of mobile devices, so that you can offer all employees the opportunity to improve their sales numbers. In fact, it may be wise to interview your sales team beforehand to see what devices they currently own and what types of mobile performance support activities or tools they think would be the most beneficial. Get their input so that you can select an HTML5 eLearning Authoring Tool and a Cloud-Based Learning Management System that helps them to achieve their professional goals and offers them the features they feel they need to boost their job performance.

With these mobile performance support tips you can help your sales team to stay well informed, so that they won't ever have to worry about coming empty handed to an important client meeting or heading out onto the sales floor without a firm grasp of product specs.

In addition, are you interested to know how to develop a successful mobile training strategy? In the article Steps To Create and Develop an Effective Mobile Training Strategy I'll walk you through the mobile training creation and implementation process, so that you can tap into the learning power that mobile devices can offer to your learners.

Are you looking for tips on how to create effective mobile training courses? Read the article Create Effective Mobile Training Courses With These 8 Simple Tips to find a number of tips that can help you to quickly create effective mobile training courses.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.