By Cait Etherington March 24, 2017
One major advantage to eLearning and mLearning is that one can carry out their training anywhere and anytime. But where and when do people complete their training online? eLearning Inside News surveyed a range of workers across industries and discovered seven surprising places eLearning takes place on a regular basis.
A high percentage of respondents confessed that their eLearning and mLearning takes place on the job either during lunch or coffee breaks or in other periods of downtime (e.g., while waiting for a meeting or a client). While eLearning is primarily a desk-based activity, mlearning more likely to take place in other areas of the workplace, including conference rooms, lunch rooms, lobbies and even on the elevator. Kelly Liu is a senior manager of a call center in Manhattan and encourages just such on-the-job training: “I have a high turnover, which is typical for a call center, and a lot of my employees are students. Encouraging employees to train on the job, between calls or on short breaks, is a great way to ensure everyone is training but that the training is not cutting into work hours or getting placed on the back burner. I know that because I have so many students on staff, it is difficult for many of my team members to prioritize training once they leave work. If it can happen here in short periods of time when they may have otherwise been idle, that’s great.”
Another highly reported site where training takes place is in transit. While fortunately no one reported training while driving (bear in mind that using your cell phone while driving is dangerous and illegal in all states), subways, buses, trains, airplanes and ferries were all cited as sites of training. Bus, train and airport waiting areas also came up as common places to tackle trainin g modules. Indeed, several workers surveyed indicated that their commute is the primary space and time they use to complete workplace training. For this reason, short mLearning modules tend to be favored over training modules that take more time and require interaction with a desktop or laptop computer.
“Maybe this is not ideal,” admits Karen Forrester, who is currently working as an intern for a publisher in New York City, “But so far, I’ve been doing a lot of my training in bed.” While Forrester may be right about the fact that training at the end of the day can be less optimal than training when one is fully alert, in reality, she’s not alone. With an estimated 70% of Americans sleeping with their phone in reach, the fact that beds are increasingly becoming a space where people train is not a surprise. Whether or not sleeping in proximity to one’s electronic devices is good for one’s health (and sleep patterns), of course, is open to debate.
Whether you prefer Starbucks or an independent coffee shop, there is a high chance that you’ve either completed a training module in one of these locations or seen other people completing their online training in these spaces. On average it takes 15 minutes to drink a coffee. The average mobile training module is 5 to 15 minutes. For this reason, the coffee break is the perfect amount of time to tackle one longer or two to three short modules. For many employees, it is also one of the few times a day when they can find a few moments to themselves to focus without the need to respond to coworkers, clients or family demands.
Treadmills and exercise bikes and even a few quiet moments on the mat while waiting for a yoga class are also among the many places that workers complete training modules. Jim Sutherland is a district manager for a large sports gear company and an avid runner: “I run outside in the warmer months but there are times in the winter when you don’t want to run outside in Minneapolis. Honestly, I don’t love running indoors, but I bring my tablet to the gym in the winter and use the time to read and watch training videos for work. It’s a great way to pass the time and stay on top of new developments in my field.”
Waiting in line at the grocery store, dry cleaners, and even movie theater were all cited as common places to complete short training modules, especially those that veer toward gamification. “If I can play Scrabble or complete one of my required training modules, I’m going to choose to do the training,” said Phil Kottler, a district retail manager. Kottler is not alone. Next time you’re standing in line for 10 minutes at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, look around. While many of the people standing around you in line will be playing games or texting family and friends, at least some of them will be engaged in work or training related tasks.
Doctor’s offices, the DMV waiting room, the line outside the classroom on a parent-teacher night at the school, and soccer, swimming and ballet lessons–wherever you wait, there is the possibility to train. “I have two small children and spend a lot of time waiting for them,” explains Sandeep Mehta, “So I try to use the time to stay on top of my training. I estimate that I spend anywhere from four to eight hours per week waiting at doctor’s offices, outside lessons, and at my kids’ school, but I also work over forty hours per seek. Taking back some of that wait time for training is really essential and essential to my future career mobility.”