With the explosive growth in mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets, mobile learning, or “mLearning” is a natural application for this new technology. With the portability that these devices now give us, we can access the right information, right when and where we need it. How many times have you turned to your cell phone, when you needed directions or wanted to find out how to fix a leaky sink? It’s the perfect “learning” tool. Yet, many in the training and development industry are holding back on a mobile learning strategy, and I think that’s a huge mistake.
Making the case for Mobile Learning
It’s simple to make the business case for mLearning. Just look at the numbers. The growth is occurring so fast, that it’s no longer feasible to expect our learners NOT to be mobile. How fast is it growing? Here are some statistics from “Mobile by the Numbers” posted by Mashable’s Sarah Kessler:
•Of the 4 billion mobile phones globally, 1.08 billion are smart phones
•By 2014, access to the internet through mobile devices will overtake access from the desktop
•50% of all searches are performed on mobile devices
•Americans spend an average 2.7 hours a day socializing on their mobile devices, which includes 1/3 of all Facebook posts and 50% of all tweets
What does this mean for learning? It’s already happening out there, so don’t expect your employees to go back to the desktop when it’s “time to learn.”
Where does mLearning fit?
Whether you offer mobile learning options through your corporate portal or not, your learners are already “mLearning”. It’s just that the process comes so naturally, we don’t think to call it learning.
According to a 2008 eLearning Guild 360 degree Report on mLearning, here are the numbers on how it’s being used today, according to a survey of eLearning Guild members:
1. On-demand access to information (64.1%)
2. Job aids and/or checklists (55.9%)
3. Procedures (51.4%)
While “training” did make this list as well, it was farther down, as it should be. Mobile devices and the explosion of wireless access everywhere opens up incredible possibilities for learning. Just because it doesn’t reside on a corporate intranet or has been assigned to someone’s learning plan, doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. As educators, shouldn’t this be our goal? Continual learning?
I’ve heard from quite a few training and HR executives on mLearning. Many are saying something like: “We’re not looking at mobile learning, right now. That’s further downstream for us.” My only response is to look out. The water is rising…and fast. You might not be ready, but believe me, your learners are.
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