Did you know that by 2013, mobile workers will number 1.2 billion – a whopping 35% of the workforce worldwide? That’s according to global market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC), in an April 2009 study. Analysts predict mobile usage will skyrocket in the next decade.
Primary challenges to mobile learning development
Despite the ubiquity of mobile devices, growth in mobile learning (mLearning) has been relatively slow. And, truthfully, development and adoption challenges do exist. Here are four of the most daunting.
The daunting number of mobile devices, software, and technologies in the marketplace make it difficult to write courseware once and run it anywhere. Carrier and coverage differences can greatly impact performance, and most organizations lack a model or platform for getting content to the edges of their mobile networks.
Employees and customers may be resistant to using their mobile phones, often seen as highly personal devices, for business purposes. Some may experience mobile communications from unwanted sources as an invasion of their privacy.
Creating native content or converting instructor-led training and e-Learning content for mobile use can be an arduous task – one that requires specialized instructional design skills.
Many learning organizations are still smarting from the economic downturn and struggling to manage priorities with fewer resources. They may also be reluctant to address the complexity of choices to be made prior to launching even a pilot mobile program.
All right, what can we do about these challenges?
While you should take these challenges seriously, they are hardly insurmountable. Through careful planning, and by aligning the right resources to your initiative, you can develop mLearning programs that boost your organization’s performance.
The question we hear most often at Intrepid is, “Where do I begin?”
Five steps to mobile learning success
Some organizations test mLearning waters by launching a pilot program to build confidence and vet technologies or delivery methods. Others initiate a small-scale mLearning program with a select audience, such as a highly mobile sales force, to demonstrate business impact and attract internal support.
Whichever approach you choose, I recommend a five-step process for driving the successful design, development, and management of mLearning initiatives:
1. Assess your readiness and design a plan
First, examine your business needs and your training organizations to determine precisely how delivery through mobile devices might improve learning effectiveness. Focus on specific business problems tied to organizational metrics (e.g., the need to provide instant access to critical sales support or decision-support info).
2. Select and implement the right technology
Select the mobile devices and technologies that will best support specific business initiatives and your learning environment. We encourage you to limit choices to the mobile devices predominantly used within your organization. Supporting the entire universe of mLearning devices can add undue complication and expense.
3. Design, develop, acquire, and repurpose content for mobile use
Develop, acquire, or repurpose content from your existing learning and information sources. But design it using the right instructional model – one designed to capture learner interest and increase retention in a mobile environment.
4. Provide the right level of support for mobile learners
Provide quality support for mobile learners and practitioners, including content administration and help desk support. Offer access to experts who can quickly respond to questions about the technology or the mobile content itself.
5. Measure mobile learning’s impact on business goals
Determine what performance metrics you should measure to evaluate your mLearning program’s or pilot’s effectiveness. Map metrics to your strategic and financial objectives. Assess where mLearning contributes to your goals and where it falls short, in order to chart a better course forward.
A competitive differentiator for early adopters
Mobile learning is a new frontier of business productivity. And its potential benefits are compelling:
Transform down time into productive time.
Improve organizational performance with quick, useful educational content.
Facilitate collaboration among on-the-go learners and trainers.
Close deals faster with real-time access to critical sales intelligence.
Access vital information to make better decisions anytime, anywhere.
Organizations that can move quickly to test and adopt mobile learning solutions will gain a competitive advantage. That competitive advantage could take many forms – a more productive sales force, more intimate customer relationships, more engaged learners. Now, what will your competitive advantage be?