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Mobile learning – the state of play

This post first appeared on the LINE blog on 5th January 2012.

piers_office_on_brand-150x150 Piers Lea, CEO, discusses the current and 2012 landscape for mobile learning.

It is nearly two years since I gave the opinion, on this blog, that it was time for organisations to embrace mobile learning. Now in 2012, demand for mobile services is growing, not just for learning, but throughout the enterprise.

A survey we conducted recently among learning professionals shows that 94% of organisations are between the stage of vesting interest in mobile technology and the full implementation stage.

mobile learning maturity

This is part of a wider movement on behalf of organisations to harness the power of mobile services. Two principal drivers underpin this movement. End-users are demanding mobile access, while board members and senior execs are seeing mobile as a USP – a game changer – and creating pressure to leverage their use across the business. This positive pressure, as smartphones become ubiquitous and services need to be multi-platform, means that organisations need to be aware of how they can supply at scale (and not drown in individual apps).

According to the 2011 iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report, each year the average smartphone/tablet owning employee works 240 hours longer than the general workforce. Smartphone adoption is now 94% of the global mobile workforce, with tablet adoption at 41%.

According to the same report, travel is where mobile devices can really prove their worth with 49% of mobile employees expecting to spend more than a month each year on business travel. Although 18% expect to travel less next year, 27% expect to travel more – the indications are that if small pieces of performance-related training were available, then work time away from the desk would be a great opportunity.

When on the move, speed of connectivity is of significant importance for employees – nearly 68% say they would pay for a faster connection when a slower free one is available. IT departments need to ensure that it’s easy for their workforce to connect to WI-FI networks when on national and international business travel.

One good piece of news for IT departments from the report: they needn’t be too worried about employees requiring high quantities of support and training for mobile learning; according to iPass, the vast majority are already using their devices competently. And what do they use them for currently? Note-taking apps, social media for work, contract/contact management, office suites and web conferencing are the most popular applications being independently downloaded by mobile workers.

With the device skills, the right awareness and also the willingness to use m-learning in place, it seems, as far as end-users are concerned, this report should only add further support to the drive for adoption with mobile. To which we would add only one caveat. Learning has to be designed properly, of course, and delivered well, as part of a considered and planned architecture for mobile learning and communications.