Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) refers to the policy or practice of allowing learners to bring their own personal mobile devices – laptops, mobile phones and tablets – to work, including for purposes of training. Learners are then able to employ those devices to access the training content delivered during specific learning events.
The use of mobile devices for learning is a fast-growing trend in workforce training. Its growth reflects the increased popularity of mobile devices in general, as well as their utility for business and learning. As employees press for the flexibility and convenience of using their own mobile devices on the job, employers are discovering benefits of increased productivity and agility.
Current numbers indicate that more than 30 percent of U.S. sales organizations incorporate mobile learning into their programs, and that an additional 35 percent plan to do so in the near future.
While certain organizations restrict the use of mobile devices among employees to management-issued equipment, especially within the highly regulated fields of finance and healthcare, others do not. Organizations that permit their employees and other stakeholders to use their own mobile devices are said to have “embraced the BYOD culture.”
In order to fully embrace this culture, organizations must address and resolve two fundamental issues:
- An organization’s training management, perhaps with authority from above, must overcome any internal resistance it might have to mobile learning. Such resistance is often centered around security-related concerns for proprietary information, and perhaps a feared loss of control over learning content.
- The company must ensure a uniform user experience regardless of the device or computer being used. To do so, it must develop an infrastructure that enables all learners to download content and applications (streaming audio and video) that can be employed on all devices.
The goal of any BYOD learning strategy is to ensure a uniform user experience from any mobile device. Meeting that challenge is often the function of an organization’s IT department, working in concert with training personnel.
The challenge may require the redesign of desktop-based platforms and products to meet the demand posed by a learning community equipped with Android devices, iPhones and iPads. In addition, existing learning content, including videos, may need to be reformatted for the BYOD era.
The path to BYOD readiness is becoming clearer for training departments as software suppliers upgrade their products to embrace client needs. Among them are providers of browser-based learning content and development tools, which are responding to demands for improved support and interface.