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Enabling mobile learning in the cape of no hope

Client:

The client is a leading insurance and medicare provider, and an ardent investor in continuous learning and development initiatives. In 2013, to serve as continuous improvement framework for the organization, the client adopted Net Promoter Score (NPS) system, to measure the progress across the company.

Business Need:

Towards becoming a truly customer-centric organization, the client wanted to deliver performance-based learning courses to its employees. A mobile learning solution could act as a catalyst towards this and help in measuring learning success for over 6000 employees. As a pilot project, the client wanted to test the effectiveness of allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for workplace learning. This seemed be a good opportunity to test the bring-your-own-device strategy and its effects across the organization.

Challenges:

As the client evaluated the resources and investments needed for this initiative, roadblocks turned out be massive. The existing learning management system was not mobile compatible and upgrading the LMS called for an upfront investment of USD 2 million. With an existing spend of USD 11 million annually to maintain the LMS, there was no way the learning and development team could convince the IT team of an additional two million dollar recurring investment.

Mobile learning solution- decoupling from legacy:

Many organizations are forced to their back-foot when they realize that their investments on proprietary learning management systems have suddenly gone redundant. To an extent, these systems suddenly seem legacy unless another whooping investment is made towards upgrading them.

When implementing a mobile learning system, it is wise to think of decoupling the new mobility environment from older systems. While proprietary learning delivery system need to remain core to the learning organization, mobile learning systems need to be kept flexible and scalable to innovation.

We have helped our clients in developing independent mobile learning apps (iOS, Windows, Android, Blackberry) and delivery networks. Here are the key components to consider when implementing mobile learning systems:

  1. Code once, publish many times. Use HTML5 and SDKs like Phonegap to create your mobile app once and publish for multiple platforms.
  2. Multi-layered authentication. In our case here, we developed a unique PIN generation system to generate a one-time PIN. The one-time PIN was used to activate the mobile app after download. A second layer of password based authentication is done to sign-in into the LMS. This was done using Shibboleth Single Sign-on protocol.
  3. Content encryption. Ensure content is encrypted at two stages- data at rest, data in transfer.
  4. Web services and content server. Develop adequate web services to communicate with the LMS APIs. In our case, learning content was hosted outside the LMS and managed using a web administration module.
  5. Mobile device management. If centralized device management is a need, consider the services of the app stores or external provider.
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