In my last post about two weeks ago, I argued that mobile learning is best used as performance support, as opposed to deploying mobile technologies simply for the presentation of eLearning materials. I then recommended a set of sessions at mLearnCon 2015 that supported this vision of mobile learning.
While at mLearnCon in Austin, Texas, I visited all the vendors in the exhibition hall, and checked out performance support entries at DemoFest, on the last evening of the conference. I found that there is a tentative but significant shift in what vendors are offering in terms of what can be called performance support.
The reason I found the shift to be tentative, is that many vendors who did not have explicit performance support functionality said that it was being considered, or that it would be in the next release of their product. But, about 50% of vendors with exhibits at the conference showed how mobile learning could be used as performance support in their literature, on their website or in speaking with them.
Of course, there can be quite of range of technologies and strategies that could be called performance support, ranging from simply having a mentor, coach or peer readily available, to full-scale platforms that provide instant help as needed.
Here are the vendors at mLearnCon 2015, including organizations showing performance support solutions at DemoFest who seemed to be already offering some level of mobile learning as performance support. Many of the performance support solutions shown at DemoFest ended up winning awards, an indication that this is probably one of the most exciting new areas of mobile learning:
Amway Body Science – I watched Andrew Millard at DemoFest show Amway’s performance solution, which provides factual, science-based information to sales associates in the field. Learners can explore anatomy, physiology, and nutrition as needed.
Ancile – I got a look at Ancile’s uPerform platform, which provides performance support at the moment of need, on the device of choice, and relevant to an employee’s role and language. Content is easily published to a performance support website for on-the-job information, team collaboration, push and pull notifications, and personalized learning.
Artisian E-Learning – Tim Slade showed “How to Cook a Turkey: A First-timers’ Guide to Thanksgiving” at DemoFest. This simple application shows how to do performance support well. Break down a task into discrete steps in the proper sequence, calculate variables that influence the task, such as the size of the turkey, the number of adults and children coming for dinner, and whether or not they are light or heavy eaters. The software does the rest and guides you to a perfect turkey. This performance support solution won the Wisetail award at DemoFest.
Bridge – Bridge provides software that does real-time micro assessments, which can then be used to influence performance by giving live feedback. You can easily check in with your employees at any time, in real time. This allows you to address any issues that come up quickly.
Center for Performance Learning – Lana Petru showed me the new mobile app from CPL that provides information on the spot, and tips for performance improvement. It works on any device, anywhere.
Float – Float develops custom solutions for performance support, using the most advanced technologies available today. They have developed software that delivers just-in-time information at the point of need, using such affordances of mobile devices as augmented reality, geolocation, peer-to-peer sharing, and a variety of sensors built into mobile devices.
Mobile Agility – Mobile Agility is a spinoff of Maestro, the well-known mobile content company. Mobile Agility, on the other hand, is a product company, operating separately but in the same location. Sydney Hill introduced me to Flex, a platform that is designed for coaching and performance support.
Moving Knowledge/University of Central Florida – The “UCF Health Patient Alert” was ably demonstrated by Brenda Enders at DemoFest. The project uses the new Apple Watch and Apple’s iBeam technology as part of a larger automated mobile patient intake system. This app won the “Performance Support” award at DemoFest.
NetDimensions – Peter Barrett of NetDimensions described a custom performance support system that the company had recently developed for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Onboard staff had instant access to all the business processes available on their ship using mobile devices.
OnPoint Digital – Robert Gadd showed the “Samsung Galaxy S6 Product Launch for APAC” at DemoFest. The software that OnPoint built, using their CellCast platform, was device-aware and automatically linked front-line sales associates with their specific area rep whenever they had a question or needed help. This performance support solution won “Best of Show: Vendor” award at DemoFest.
Ontuitive/Herman Miller –The Ontuitive performance support platform can be used to embed company specific help files within another software package. Jeremy Smith showed how help files for Salesforce are used by Herman Miller, the well-known office and healthcare furniture company.
Qualcomm – The “Qualcomm’s Patent Wall Experience” by Jonathan Brasted & Anurag Jain shows that performance support doesn’t always have to be on a mobile device, but can be embedded in the physical environment. This performance support solution won “Best of Show: Non-vendor” award at DemoFest.
Unboxed – Scout is a mobile observation tool from Unboxed that lets you assess, survey, or audit anyone or anything, any time, from any device. “Armed with the data and insights Scout captures, managers and supervisors, can shape how they coach team members to reinforce high-performing behaviors and best practices, improve the customer experience, and increase sales.”
Xyleme – Xyleme’s Monica Kraft showed an application at DemoFest called “Workforce Enablement: learning anytime, anywhere, on any device” under the performance support category.“ Employees have access to small nuggets of information that can be granularly searched and delivered on demand.”
What this selection of mobile performance support solutions shows is the wide variety of approaches in this growing field, which range from simple contact with a manager or an expert to highly detailed information portals that contain most information that an employee would need to do their job.
At this stage in the evolution of performance support, custom solutions are predominant, because the expected performance on any task varies significantly from one organization to another.
At the same time, using the newest affordances of mobile increases the power of performance support, by allowing it to be personalized and delivered in so many ways.
At Float, we are using the very latest in digital technologies to craft solutions to business problems, as outlined in our CHAMPIONS framework for improving performance through emerging technologies. Contact us to start the process of building your performance support solution.
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