Posted on 15th September, 2016 by Emily Blake
‘Bring your own device’ is a phrase you’ll likely have heard. It refers to individuals bringing their personal devices to work, usually their mobile devices, and using these to undertake work both in and out of the workplace.
What does BYOD mean for you and for your learning strategy? Here are a few key points.
Multiple devices means multiple operating systems
You need to be able to support Apple, Android, Windows and Blackberry as a starting point.
Probably the most straightforward way of hitting all operating systems at once is to build a mobile web app. This works much like a website, with learners accessing it over the intranet via their mobile web browser. Most mobile web apps are built in HTML5 and are accessible across all operating systems. The good news is that many authoring tools can now output mobile web apps.
Another alternative is to output what are known as native apps across all operating systems. These tend to be more powerful than mobile web apps, as they can use native features of each operating system. Some authoring tools will let you design the content once and output native apps to multiple devices, but not all will.
Multiple devices means multiple screen sizes
As well as considering a variety of operating systems, you need to be thinking about the different screen resolutions available for tablet devices, PC monitors and smartphones.
This may sound like a design nightmare, but the technique of ‘responsive design’ comes to the rescue here. Responsive design involves designing the content once but specifying how it should be laid out for different screen sizes. Depending on the device used, the content then automatically organises itself into the most appropriate layout for that device.
Some authoring tools, such as our sister company’s gomo learning tool, have responsive design ‘baked’ into them – others do not, and only target PCs and tablet devices with larger screens. That won’t be a problem if those are the devices your learners will be using but, if you think learners might want to access the same content on smartphones, you need to make sure that you use an authoring tool that can easily output to smartphones.
What about security?
Your IT department is likely already wrestling with the security implications around BYOD. If employees are using their mobile devices for work-based activities outside of the realm of learning and development, they will probably already have a policy in place, to which you simply need to adhere.
If training and development are leading the way with BYOD, then one option to discuss is instigating a ‘managed device’ policy to support multi-device training delivery. With these initiatives, employees sign an agreement whereby, if they lose their personal device, they undertake to report this and authorise the IT department to wipe any work-related apps from their device.
Mobile Device Management systems, which many larger companies have introduced, manage security for applications and devices and can also act as an internal corporate app store.
What else should I consider?
It’s important to be aware that if learners are using their own devices to access your learning, they will be paying for data download every time they access your content without a Wi-Fi connection. You should make sure that learners are clearly warned about this possibility and don’t unintentionally run up large bills downloading data.
If your apps are designed to download data once and then run locally (more frequently the case with native apps) then this will mitigate the risk of incurring unwanted data download costs.
It’s also worth being aware that audio and video files will be much ‘heavier’ and therefore more expensive to download than text and images.