BYOD to Training

According to eMarketer, around 92% of mobile Internet users in the Middle East have at least finished high school. They are in love with their mobile devices/tablets and would like to carry them to their corporate training sessions. Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) to training is tempting, but the risks can be high. Organizations must balance employees’ preferences with the need to keep confidential company information and strategies secure. They also must think about how to create equal, consistent access to the training material for those employees who do not have their own devices.

Define BYOD

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) refers to workers bringing their own mobile devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, into the workplace for use and connectivity. Experts expect over 2.14 billion smartphones and tablets to be in the market by 2017 and mobile app use now shown to exceed desktop web access, the demand for BYOD is stronger than ever. Employees report they simply feel more comfortable using their own devices.

In a survey by Gartner Inc., 85% of companies experienced increased user satisfaction as a result of implementing BYOD programs, and 74% reported enhanced productivity. Research by Cisco shows 69% of IT decision makers feel BYOD is a positive development for their organization, considering BYOD reduces the costs associated with IT helpdesk support. Additionally, BYOD provides drastically reduced company hardware costs as users will use their own devices for work instead of relying on the enterprise-owned devices. This will ensure the use of cutting-edge technology within the corporation especially in our region since most residents are inclined to continuously upgrade their own devices.

Security & Legal Concerns

BYOD is not a learning danger, but more of a security issue. The flexibility allowed by BYOD comes at a potentially high cost, says Kimberly Gerber, founder and CEO of communication training firm Excelerate. “Allowing employees to access training via their own devices, including laptops, smart phones, and tablets, opens your company up to wage and overtime issues,” says Gerber. “It also can lead to employees accessing or converting company intellectual property for their own use.

Rabih Kanaan, founder and CEO of OpenRatio, a Swedish based firm that helps enterprises liberate content and drive engagement has another point of view. “People believe that enabling users to use their personal devices in training must mean compromising enterprise security and 76% of business leaders cite security issues as their number one concern in considering BYOD adoption” says Kanaan. “However, these concerns are uncalled for. Going mobile and adopting BYOD does not mean corporations will have to compromise security at all, a corporation just have to make sure it is done right” adds Kanaan.

Greater Danger Not Allowing BYOD

BYOD has emerged as a cost-effective solution allowing organizations to adopt a mobile learning approach without having to provide the devices. L&D would have to focus budgets on content instead of the delivery methods.

The alternative to BYOD is to allocate low-cost devices. The concept of using low-cost tablets in education already has been implemented in India with the Ministry of HRD distributing tablets priced less than $35 to students of all grade levels.

Another cost-effective alternative is to provide ‘rentals’ of mobile technologies such as tablets that delegates use frequently. This can enhance the learning experience with post-class support tools such as video learning, social peer-to-peer collaboration, and quick-reference tools.

If you decide to provide access to company training material via personal devices, there are some ways to ensure that all employees have a consistent experience regardless of the device used. Ensuring the material can be accessed equally, regardless of device type, is done through cross-platform-compatible, cloud-based solutions. This approach guarantees that no matter the platform used by a company’s employees, they have access to a consistent learning experience.

BYOD in Training

According to IDC, the average knowledge worker uses 3.3 devices. People are refusing to put their smart phones away even when driving or walking down the street, some training experts believe companies are better off going with the flow and allowing employees access to training on their personal devices. “The real key danger is in NOT allowing employees to use their devices during training,” says Bill Rosenthal, CEO of Logical Operations. “Professionals are widely using personal devices in the workplace and in their day-to-day routines,” Rosenthal says.

An effective implementation of a BYOD strategy in training provides a number of benefits. It will improve trainees’ satisfaction and engagement, increase productivity, promote collaboration and provide ‘actionability’ on the fly says Rabih Kanaan.

Before any training session, trainers tend to show a housekeeping slide that includes a note that mobile phones must be silent or even turned off. We all agree that it’s annoying to get interrupted by delegates replying on their phones during the training. However, how can we turn this to our benefit? Here comes the RBC methodology:

–       Research: During training sessions, delegates can use their devices as a research tool helping them understand the training content and sharing the knowledge with others.

–       Blended: Most organizations have their Learning Management System implemented. Most LMS software has cross-platform Mobile applications allowing trainers to share the training content. Personal cloud storage devices like Dropbox can also be used to share training material, photos, videos, etc.

–       Collaboration:Documented collaboration can help the facilitators with their Post Training Report. It also helps delegates stay in touch and benefit from that in the workplace.

Tips for Trainers

Trainers shouldn’t consider BYOD as the new elephant in the room. With your IT department, pick a mobile platform and start your mobility journey.

Start small, be agile and scale gradually and organically.

Samer “Sam” Faissal is a Certified Instructional Designer and a Training Consultant. He helps corporations build & implement e-Learning strategies using the blended learning approach. He combines face-to-face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities. He has been involved in e-learning projects for a number of reputable organizations helping them implement Technology in Education. He is also a training facilitator who has led face-to-face training for more than 60 organizations in 10 different countries.

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