It looks like you're using an older browser that is unsupported. To get the best experience, we recommend you

upgrade your browser

Going Mobile: Design, Develop and Implement Apps to Change Performance

Earlier this year, the Maestro team made a Harlem Shake video. If you aren’t familiar with the Harlem Shake, it’s a dance craze going viral on the Internet, with people creating their own videos using the same formula. The music is always the same 32-second clip from the song “The Harlem Shake.” To start, there’s a single person in a mask, dancing to the beat while everyone around him is oblivious to his presence. Then, when the bass drops, the scene changes and all those oblivious people—and many more—join the scene wearing costumes and dancing like crazy. There are tens of thousands of different versions of the Harlem Shake on the Internet, from a few people in a dorm room, to military groups, and people in office environments. (In the Maestro video, our actual water delivery guy happened to be there, so he makes a guest appearance, and our company president dresses like a banana and is chased by a gorilla!)

This got me thinking, why doesn’t eLearning go viral? Of course I’m not talking about everyone sharing their corporate training on Facebook and YouTube. But you never hear someone at the water cooler saying “I can’t wait for that Billing Reports eLearning to come out.” or “Did you see that Sexual Harassment eLearning? I know it’s optional, but Jim, you really have to take it.”

These are things you do really hear people say about face-to-face instruction. There are those great classes that people talk about, engaged and inspired by a great teacher or great content. As a result, students encourage others to take it. But this never seems to happen with eLearning.

There are myriad reasons for this, but maybe we need to look to our learners for the answer. As trainers we always talk about ROI from the organization’s perspective, and surely this is critical to getting the funding that allows us to do what we do. But what about personal ROI? Our learners deserve training that creates results for them. That is their ROI. Will the learner get value from investing time in this training? If the learner sees value in the training, it, too, can go viral.

With mobile technologies we have a chance to make technology-based learning go viral. Using mobile technologies we are able to reach learners at their real point of need – when they are doing the job and realize they are unable to accomplish the task and need some assistance. This sort of training is often referred to as performance support.

Let’s consider the use of mobile technologies to bring training or performance support to the learner at his exact moment of need. Imagine you are a sales rep and are about to call on a large potential client. Having the opportunity to look up critical information and details about your product, the client, and so forth immediately before the meeting is very important. And you will use this training again and again because you see the value for you. You’re even likely to recommend it to others, because it meets your needs for personal ROI.

We’ve created apps like this, and that is exactly what we found. One app was created for a group of about 700 sales reps. Over the past year, the app was logged into more than 10,000 times by these 700 reps. More than 11.6% of these logins were by people who used the app 10 or more times, and a few reps even used it 50 or more times!

In another project, we created an app for more than 100 sales reps, and over the past year they had 1,627 logins. With this app, more than 41% of the logins were by people who used the app 10 or more times, and over 21% were by people who used it 20 or more times. As a training professional, these kinds of numbers are exciting. Honestly, I’d be thrilled if people found most eLearning so valuable that they logged into it two or three times, so the notion of people logging in 10 or 20 or even 50 times is incredible. This shows that the learner found personal value from it – and as a result, the learning went viral.

As you can see, when learners are given access to materials that help them become more effective at their jobs, they will use them – and they will come back over and over. They’ll even tell their friends about the materials and encourage colleagues to use them too.

So how do we start thinking of our training in ways that makes it so useful to learners that they see the value to them, and thus they want to use it repeatedly? Start thinking about it from the learner’s perspective. How will learners use this to improve their job performance in a tangible way? Make sure learners can apply the learning to their jobs, so they can see the positive results of using the training.

Maybe then your training will go viral too.

Carla Torgerson will be co-teaching, with Phillip Neal, the all-day workshop, “Going Mobile: How to Design, Develop, and Implement Apps That Truly Change Performance” on Saturday, May 18. Join her and Phil as they discuss these topics and many more.

Also, join Phil and Carla for their session "Sales Enablement and Employee Empowerment: Driving Performance Support With Mobile Devices" where they will discuss Sales forces are generally very mobile, and rely heavily on mobile devices for performance support in the field. This session will show examples of mobile apps that have provided performance support to sales professionals with excellent results. The session will also cover the underlying instructional design principles that make these mobile apps so successful.Explore the latest capabilities in using mobile devices to provide performance support to mobile sales staff.

This post was written by Carla Torgerson and a version of it originally appeared on ASTD's blog. The ASTD 2013 International Conference & Exposition is the premier event for training and development professionals. This year's event will take place in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. from May 19-22, 2013. Learn more about ASTD 2013's keynote speakers, educational sessions, andexposition at

We'll have you at hello.

Thanks, !

We’ve got your message and we’ll connect with you shortly.