According to a Google Insights study, people around the world use an average of 2.5 connected devices each. While mobile devices are an inseparable part of our personal lives, they have also had a major influence on learning. There’s a revolution in e-learning, and a large part of it is courtesy of mobile learning, or m-learning.
Interestingly, the first instances of mobile learning date back as early as the 1970s, when Xerox developed the Dynabook, which embodied all the elements of a graphical user interface and was the size and shape of a book. It had high-definition simulations and materials from around the world. That technology didn’t last, but m-learning as we know it today made its debut in the early 2000s.
While one report indicates that the U.S. market for mobile learning will grow to $37.6 billion by 2020, the figures may rise even more considering the success companies have experienced using m-learning.
Developing a Mobile Learning Strategy
The mobile workforce is set to double or even triple in size in 2018, thanks to such factors as the BYOD (bring your own device) movement. L&D departments must invest time and resources into a solid mobile learning strategy. After all, mobile learning is not just about converting your existing courses into a mobile format and delivering them to users. Developing an effective mobile learning strategy involves thorough consideration of:
- Business needs: What are the objectives of your m-learning program? Will you use it to provide performance support? Will you use it for your remote or gig workforce? Is it covering offline support?
- Audience: What are the mobile usage habits of your target audience? Are they ready to access training on their mobile devices? Where will they be accessing the content, and do they have the bandwidth required?
- Devices: From smartphones to tablets to “phablets,” what devices are your employees using? Is iOS or Android more popular? Does your company have a BYOD program?
- Delivery platforms: Depending upon the needs of your business, do you want to use a responsive or an app-based approach?
- Security: If you have a BYOD program, how will you handle security issues?
While it’s critical for your mobile learning strategy to be robust, well planned and well executed, it’s equally critical that the strategy is flexible enough to keep up with any change in the technology landscape and, in turn, the business environment, as well as user behavior patterns.
The Changing Landscape
Innovations from mobile apps, chatbots, augmented reality and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are quickly revolutionizing mobile learning. In fact, the chatbot market size is expected to reach over $3,100 million by 2021. There’s now more connectivity, better interactivity, more automation, enhanced working and learning opportunities, improved ability to analyze customer habits in real time, easier access to data through cloud-based applications, and better business security.
The composition of the workforce, too, demands that L&D professionals be on their toes, offering a mobile learning strategy that is mobile in the truest sense of the word. Bersin by Deloitte reports that 30 percent of full-time employees work remotely, and 20 percent of the workforce consists of temporary, contractor and freelance workers. These employees need an agile mobile learning strategy.
Employees no longer perceive mobile learning as optional but rather as an integral part of their learning and development. Employees’ affinity for mobile devices has increased so much that 91 percent of companies have implemented or plan to implement a mobile work strategy. It’s also important to consider the flexibility of learning with other formats, including videos and podcasts, and the need to be able to learn offline.
The key is that learning needs a flexible framework that can be molded based on learners’ needs. A Bersin by Deloitte study describes modern corporate learners as overwhelmed, distracted and impatient, and a Gartner study points out that by 2018, more than 50 percent of people will use a tablet or smartphone first for their online activities.
With the ample advantages that mobile learning offers, it’s almost a no-brainer to incorporate it in your L&D strategy. Focus on designing a learning strategy that is truly “mobile,” because it provides flexibility and agility to learners, and it will yield the best of returns to the company as well.