Five Ways Your LMS May Fail to Support Your mLearning Strategy

  • Robert Gadd
  • 2014-06-11
  • LMS mLearning

With the onset of mainstream mobile learning (mLearning) in recent years, it’s only natural to see more companies jumping into the game with both feet. Included in that list of “new players” are the large Learning & Talent Management System providers, and while it may seem like an obvious choice to simply run mLearning programs and initiatives through your existing LMS, there are several important reasons to consider other options as you begin or ramp up your efforts in today’s world of mobile computing.

  1. Their App is Your App

    Regardless of who your audience is, what the content covers, or how sensitive the material may be, it all needs to be funneled through the same vendor-branded, publicly available application. It may sound great that SumTotal Mobile, Saba Anywhere, Cornerstone Mobile, and SuccessFactors are all available through Google Play and the Apple App Store. However, this will be the ONLY app you can use to deliver content, which can substantially constrain your efforts.

  2. Rigid Interfaces Lead to Limited Opportunity

    There are a lot of good things to be said about a consistent, well thought out interface within software applications. However, when you step back and consider the extensive applications and varying needs of different organizations for mobile learning, it’s easy to see where the bad can outweigh the good. Beyond the most basic of mLearning use cases in putting mobile-formatted eLearning content on a phone, the needs and opportunities for mLearning really start to diverge across companies and industries. How do you tap into existing content repositories that fall outside of the formal training area? How do you configure features such as User-Generated Content or capturing Quick Reference (QR) Codes to make them more natural and relevant for your learners? While basic functional requirements can be fairly consistent within the systems world, interface needs and requirements rarely are. To really take advantage of the opportunities mLearning affords, you need a solution capable enough to provide the features you need and the flexibility to optimize those features for your audience(s).

  3. Sometimes, Usernames and Passwords Just aren’t Good Enough

    Anyone who has ever been involved in enterprise technology projects can attest to the importance placed on the security of the systems in play. The IT Security police are always eager to over involve themselves anytime an initiative or implementation touches employee or customer data, includes content that is sensitive/proprietary in nature, or opens up a tunnel through the firewall. If the appropriate security measures are not in place to satisfy IT, additional costs and delays related to extra testing and remediation can be considered the BEST case scenario in getting the initiative off the ground. It’s important to understand what security considerations and sensitivities exist both within your organization and the provider used in rolling out mLearning programs. Without any other considerations in place, all that’s really separating your users and content from your competitors or the public eye is a username and password. On-device content encryption, two-form or SSO authentication, and remote lock/wipe features are all indicative of mature, enterprise-ready mLearning capabilities.

  4. Enterprise Mobile Strategy May Not Bend to LMS Constraints

    Clearly, the uses of mobile technology extend well beyond the training space in the government and corporate world. BlackBerry proved out what many consider the first homerun enterprise use case for modern mobile technology by securely delivering email and calendar information to a wireless device, and despite all of BlackBerry’s faults, they did understand that mobility in the enterprise was about more than being functional.

    For many years, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) was the standard bearer in managing BlackBerry devices within the enterprise. That central control model remains strong in today’s corporate environment with a set of leading Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms (e.g. MobileIron, Maas360, AirWatch) mirroring the BES management function in a multiple platform world. Before opening the doors up for either personal or company-issued phones within the enterprise, most security-conscious companies will require these devices to be centrally managed by an MDM platform. These platforms offer everything from data and information security to secure application distribution. The latter is one very real example of where your LMS provider is likely unable to align with your IT’s overall mobility strategy. The sensitivity around app distribution is compounded by the public “store” app distribution model employed by the larger LMS providers in that anyone can download the app leaving the only protection in place for sensitive content as a server name and username/password combo (see #3).

  5. Single Sign-On Should Mean Single Sign-On

    Enterprise Single Sign-On pages tend to be universal for all apps and sites. From the language on the page to how usernames are referred to, wedging your IT’s nomenclature, policies, and procedures into your LMS’s SSO world view may not be an option. Not only could this prove problematic from a security perspective, but it could also lead to extra administrative and support overhead, as well as confusion amongst end users due to the need to maintain a separate set of accounts, usernames, and passwords.