By Jennifer Hughes
Over the last several months, many pharmaceutical companies that have already equipped their sales forces with iPads for use as marketing tools have now made the move to also embrace tablet devices as learning tools. The benefits of a mobile approach to learning are endless, and the iPad has the potential to be a very powerful tool for learning and performance support. But if people don't know how to use it or don't feel comfortable, they won't be able to take full advantage.
Once the decision to go mobile is made, some initial and obvious steps for the training department often include developing an overall strategy and approach to mobile learning, and converting existing training materials to an iPad-friendly format. One thing that is often overlooked is the need to train people on how to use the devices themselves, and how to leverage all of the features and functionality. Helping your learners establish a comfort level with the iPad will ensure buy-in and engagement that will promote efficient and effective use of the device as both a learning and a marketing tool. Someone who also gets into the habit of comfortably using his or her iPad to send e-mails, set appointments in their calendar, or track expenses, is more likely to appreciate and make use of their iPad as a learning tool.
Additionally, if a learner knows how to access content both online and offline, highlight important information, take notes and create bookmarks, and experience interactive training content in new ways, they will start turning to their iPad as a learning resource before they go to a desktop computer or a binder that houses similar information.
A simple solution for ensuring your learners know how to best use their mobile device is to create a comprehensive video library of iPad How-To videos. There is no need for in-depth or time-intensive training, but offering people with a simple, yet comprehensive resource that they can use for individual learning can be very impactful. This approach puts the learner in the driver's seat, providing them with a content-rich, library-style resource, and enabling them to access the content they need when they need it. Short, instructional videos offer a "YouTube-like” experience that learners respond well to because it is familiar and intuitive.
In this case, your resource library will include a series of 20- to 30-second videos, organized by topic, with a combination of general iPad features and functions, as well as some organization-specific content. General topics could include: a tour of the "anatomy of an iPad”, e-mail, calendar, contacts, Safari browser, app management, battery life conservation and general tips and tricks. Content specific to your organization might include a tour of any pre-loaded enterprise apps, including player and reader apps that will be used to deliver training material in eBook, digital magazine, or HTML5 course format, as well as an overview of how to use VPN or access your LMS from the device.
Videos can be created using video screen captures, supplemented with some simple voice-over narration that further describe the feature being shown or the task being demonstrated, as well as the gestures (taps, swipes, etc.) being used.
Learners can choose to watch the complete set of videos as a way to get started, or, if they already have a basic comfort level with the device, pick and choose the ones that will be most useful. Some learners, particularly those who were new iPad users, have found it very helpful to be able to access and view the videos on their laptops, and follow along on their iPads to familiarize themselves with the features and steps for completing certain tasks. Even experienced iPad users are often able to pick up at least one new tip or trick. (For example: Did you know that by pressing the home button and power button simultaneously you can take a quick screen capture of your iPad display?) Either way, users will always have access to the video library and be able to re-watch any one of them at any time for a quick refresher on a specific function or task at any time.
For instance, Eisai Co., Ltd. included an iPad How-To video library, in conjunction with their launch of iPad training, which proved to be a quick, cost-effective solution with very high impact. The future vision for sales training at Eisai is that new-hire sales representatives will begin their onboarding process by receiving a welcome letter, and their iPad, pre-loaded with apps and ready to act as a portal to access all of the content and resources they will need throughout their onboarding journey. Once they receive their iPad and welcome package, the video library is a perfect place for them to start, providing them with a resource to familiarize themselves with the device, set them up for success in using the iPad as a learning tool, and ultimately equip them to take ownership of their own learning journey.
Jennifer Hughes is senior consultant, Metrix Group. Reach Jennifer at @hughes_jen.