Bring Your Own Device or BYOD as it is popularly called, is not just another fad. It is a powerful trend slated for growth in the learning domain – both at the academic as well as enterprise level. The reason for this is simple: BYOD gives organizations the best of both worlds – lesser costs of providing hardware yet the ability to capitalize on technological devices. On the learners’ side too, BYOD is a win-win since they don’t have to manage separate devices for personal and professional work. Besides, to be able to work on a familiar, personal device is far more comforting. Here’s why a BYOD policy could be an excellent investment for training, learning and development:
The most attractive proposition from an organization’s perspectives is the cost factor. A BYOD policy allows organizations to drastically cut down on costs of e-learning or m-learning since they can use their personal devices for professional work as well. The tradeoff however, is in the design part. Content must be responsive enough to deliver similar learning experiences across all devices, and a device agnostic content approach is the current solution to it.
Greater satisfaction & productivity
Have you ever found yourself working slower on a friend’s laptop or computer with a different operating system than the one you use? Though continuous usage does make one more adapted to a new platform, not everybody is as agile with technology as you might wish. For example, hardcore iOS fans may be less satisfied and therefore less productive if they have to use Android or Windows for work. Technology familiarity is a prerequisite to harnessing the maximum potential of employees through e-learning or m-learning.
Lower costs on maintenance
When you put a BYOD policy into practice, the onus of updating software and maintaining hardware shifts to the owners i.e. the employees. You in turn, save costs on IT maintenance.
By giving employees the flexibility of choosing their own device for learning, you are not only creating an employee friendly culture, but also eliminating the arduous task of having them to carry multiple devices while travelling. Moreover, it also gives self-motivated learners the freedom to learn whenever and wherever they want to (think of a young, passionate employee working off of a vacation!).
Most employees’ devices today are sophisticated and capable of handling good quality real time communication such as video conferencing and file or application sharing, which makes it possible to assign the right mix of employees for projects very quickly. Since efficient teams can be created more quickly, the turnaround time for projects is minimized.
Now about the implementation part. Any change requires a realignment in the way things work. Here are a set of best practices that you should incorporate in your organizational culture while adopting a BYOD policy:
Involve your employees before you launch a BYOD program to understand how ready and willing they are. You shouldn’t be creating a peer pressure situation for employees who have the not-so-good devices. It is important to be inclusive in your BYOD strategy to minimize resistance and gather everybody’s support. People without the right devices can always buy one in future if they see value in the device serving purpose both for their personal and professional work.
Know their devices. This is simply to aid instructional designers and the technology guys to have a better understanding of the kinds of devices that they are going to be designing for.
A BYOD policy works best with a cloud. What’s the point of having BYOD if (say) an employee can’t go through an e-learning module on his tablet while waiting at the airport? Moreover, cloud services also make it possible to enable location based learning. On the other hand, devices can store documents locally which automatically get uploaded to the cloud when the internet connection resumes.
“Giving flexibility to learners” and “Making them more satisfied and productive” sound too clichéd unless concrete steps are taken to actually facilitate learning whenever employees want it.
Put a security system in place since the data is now on employees’ personal devices; going along everywhere they go and vulnerable to spyware. One of the ways to fully reap the benefits of BYOD and the cloud without putting precious enterprise data to risk is by differing the levels of security for different kinds of data and devices; that is – themore sensitive the data is, the lesser will be the number of devices that it is available on. Highly personal and mobile devices should not get access to such data. Other best practices for enabling security are – using business intelligence for monitoring and detection of devices, enterprise mobility management to prevent unauthorized access or remote wiping of data in case a device gets stolen, secure file sharing, and loss prevention technologies to track sensitive data.
Apart from security infrastructure, it is the role of the management to sensitize employees to BYOD policy guidelines and garner their cooperation in complying with rules relating to joining or leaving an organization as well as everyday handling of data on their personal devices. Senior executives must be particularly careful themselves, since they are more likely to hold crucial company information in their devices.
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