iPhones, iPads, iTouch and other mobile devices have emerged as viable training tools for busy attorneys- whether solo practitioners or members of large firms. This emerging technology offers formidable options to traditional learning tools. Here is an overview of some of the advantages and disadvantages:
- Easy access at modest cost – Information is available to anyone anywhere. All you need is your device and basic Internet access.
- Training when you want it and how you want it – Training is available 24/7 at the user’s convenience. Users are not limited to training on specific days or times, or to physically attending classes. Attorneys can learn at their own pace, pause the sessions, bookmark their places, and then resume training at their own convenience.
- Lower Costs – Mobile devices rely primarily on recorded sessions, so it eliminates the need for a live presenter for programs. Other savings can include travel costs for training (including hotel, airfare, rental car, etc.), cost of time away from the office, and the resultant loss of billable hours.
- Content – Mobile CLE provides access to more than 5,500 courses, without worry of missing or checked out tapes.
- Ability to individualize training content – CLE Mobile also gives law firms the ability to make their own CLE and training content mobile.
Obviously, the primary attraction of mobile training devices is convenience – on-the-go and on-demand access – wherever and whenever the user wants. Access to CLE on mobile devices eliminates the need for attorneys to reserve tapes in advance from a lending library and the need to travel to pick up the tape. Features such as the ability to pause, bookmark, and then return to a mobile download allow an attorney to stop his/her training on demand in order to return to the office for a meeting. That can’t be done when physically attending training sessions.
Like other technologies, there are downsides to mobile learning. Chief among them is the lack of a “personal” training experience. Here are the disadvantages:
- Verbal vs. nonverbal – Lack of an actual person to answer your questions, give feedback or hints to understand the content through body language or nonverbal communication.
- Less opportunities for socializing or networking – This is a major sidelight of training held at conferences.
- Boredom factor – Content/presentation possibly less creative and interesting that live training.
- Expensive – Program costs can vary from $65-$350. Although these costs may be equal or less than conference training costs, they may be steeper than the cost of renting traditional CLE tapes.
Despite these disadvantages, I see real promise for this technology as an alternative to live training and the vagaries of training tapes. As a Law Librarian, I struggled with the task of getting busy attorneys to attend live training sessions at designated times, as do my peers. Although lures of free food and the opportunity to use billable work as the training project were successful, their training sessions often were interrupted by other demands.
Tune in to part 2 of this blog, where I will discuss the evolution of various mobile training tools from 2009-present.