Mobile Learning Tackles Compliance Training: The Qualcomm Case Study
Using new standards for tracking and seamless device transition, the Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning team created a solution that sets a model for mobile compliance apps.
As per California state law, Managers/Supervisors with subordinates working in California are required to complete at least two hours of preventing sexual harassment (PSH) training once every two years. In compliance with the law, Qualcomm traditionally has offered two options for employees to fulfill their requirement: employees could either choose to take an online course or attend classroom training. While the online course presented a more convenient option, it still meant that the learner would be tied to a desktop or laptop to complete the two hour training. This was not the optimal solution for many of the busy managers and supervisors on the go.
This posed a new challenge for both Qualcomm compliance team and Mobile Learning team. What if there was a way they could fulfill the requirements during their commute to work or as they wait for the next flight at the airport? What if the learning experience was not tied to a device but is seamless across different devices?
To help meet this challenge, Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning team built a mobile solution that meets the employee needs while adhering to stringent legal requirements of tracking and approved course credits. This mobile course is available as an alternative to the current e-learning training on preventing sexual harassment and is a credited substitute for the two hour live training.
PSH – Mobile App
Preventing Sexual harassment (PSH) mobile app provides employees with a quick and easy access to the training material. This app draws content from the critical learning elements of both classroom training and online course for PSH. It also integrates Experience API (xAPI) for tracking actions performed by the user and an innovative custom backend cloud synchronization solution that lets employees receive credit for time spent learning in the course across any of their devices. (Note: while “time spent learning” can never equate to “effectiveness and quality of learning”, it is a legal requirement for course completion in California.) This allows an employee to start the PSH course from desktop at work, continue the course on mobile phone at the airport, and finish it for credit using a tablet at the hotel.
This mobile course features videos and course materials created by Qualcomm’s internal legal team, and introduces the basics of preventing sexual harassment. By the end of it, employees:
- Gain an idea of legalities around Anti-sexual harassment law
- Understand the potential negative impact of inappropriate conduct
- Know Qualcomm’s philosophy on abiding by law and following the principles
The whole course is divided into 12 modules, with each module comprising an introduction, a video based lesson, and a follow-up quiz reinforcing the understanding. Content is timed and learners are mandated to finish the entire module to move on to the subsequent modules.
Building the PSH App
There were two major hurdles in building PSH app:
- Tracking the user time spent in the course: Due to legal and HR compliance reasons, it was of paramount importance that the time each user spent in the course was accurately recorded. Mobile web apps are not typically very robust at this, so the Qualcomm team added an additional tracking framework.
- Securely communicating the user data between PSH app and internal systems:
Qualcomm still relies on an older LMS, which is deeply integrated into our HR systems, but which does not support mobile. The LMS and HR systems resides behind the firewall, and do not support standards like x-API that would allow for content hosted outside the LMS.
After evaluating several LMS options, we have decided to build the solution ourselves using the Experience API, also called x-API or Tin Can API.
- xAPI is a relatively new way to track user actions that might happen across multiple different systems. Using xAPI, the Mobile Learning team was able to create an app that can stand alone outside the LMS while still being able to track the progress of the user in precise details.
- It allows for a standard way to securely communicate between the PSH course and the Learning Record Store (LRS) which keeps the data of the interactions the user has performed. Best of all, xAPI works anywhere – not tied to the LMS like SCORM and AICC – without any ties to a specific programming language for technology platform.
- A secondary integration was done between the LMS, and the LRS so that mobile course progress could be re-integrated with all other learner records, and achieve parity with the face–to–face course.
- Since this a homegrown mobile app, it was liberating to design the learning experience that was optimal for the solution and not merely building a mobile website for an online course. There was a high emphasis on careful curation and design of the content that accommodates the technical specification of time tracking without compromising the user experience.
The reception to the PSH app has been overwhelmingly positive. Some comments from the employees include:
- “I like the app, it was easy to use and very convenient. I was able to finish the course en route after work.”
Dmitry, Senior Staff Program Analyst, IT
- “I did the course at my desk using my desktop. I liked the course. The material was clearly presented and the quizzes in between ensured full attention.”
Pramod, Senior Manager, Engineering
- “I liked it mostly for the convenience. Great idea and platform.”
Barry, Senior Staff Engineer
- “It was much better than sitting through the course in person. I liked that I could start and stop as I needed to and watch it at places other than my desk.”
Dolly, Director of Library Services
- “Really like that I can stop and start on any device – mobile and desktop.”
John, Director, Engineering
- “The main advantage for me was the convenience of being able to take to class on a much more flexible schedule than the traditional desktop option. I didn’t perceive any reduction in the quality, or amount of information that the mobile version was able to get across.”
Kevin, Director, Engineering
The initial rollout of the PSH app has been a resounding success, with great reviews from both the employees as well as the stakeholders. The Mobile Learning team continues to refine and improve the user experience, to engage the users via scenario-based situation and usability studies are being planned to enhance the whole experience.
Through partnering with the compliance team and Legal team, the PSH app was able to deliver where it mattered the most to them:
- “We wanted more than just a run-of-the-mill compliance training; it is important for us that our employees know the Qualcomm Way, which transcends the minimum legal guidelines, to treat each other with care and respect. Our work on the PSH app allows us to relay this message.”
Katie, Manager, Compliance
- “The PSH app is more than just a mode for training where it allows our employees to not just learn about preventing sexual harassment, but also use it as an always available tool to report any concerns they have.”
Curtis, Senior Director, Legal
According to a research study in 2013, Towards Maturity predicted that organizations will significantly increase the use of mobile for compliance content (56% for accessing content and 46% developing apps). As part of the design strategy, the research study highlights storytelling, performance support and providing resources for managers when designing compliance training. Qualcomm’s mobile compliance strategy aligns with this benchmark and the success of Preventing Sexual Harassment mobile app has opened the door for further collaboration between the compliance team and the Mobile Learning team. Our next compliance app covers our Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA) training.
The mobile phone affords L&D departments an opportunity to bring learning and performance support to the users effectively. With the availability of technology such as Experience API and LRS, the time is now for L&D departments to partner with compliance groups to make compliance training more accessible, secure, engaging, and less painful than ever before on mobile devices.
Note: This article was first published on eLearning Industry.