Ambient Insight’s 2012-2017 Worldwide mLearning Market Forecast, as far back as 2012, showed that the market for mLearning products and services had touched $ 5.3 Billion. Even then the impending explosion in smartphone adoption was obvious so the report claimed that by 2015 this segment would touch $ 8.7 Billion, a healthy 18% CAGR. Reality has comfortably outstripped even this forecast with the most recent estimates putting this market at $ 9.1 Billion now.
While the unchecked growth in the availability of mobile devices is an obvious factor the reason for the growth in mLearning is also that it is, seemingly, more effective as well as more engaging. Surveys have shown 100% of employees preferring the use of mobile phones for learning – that’s pretty unequivocal! 29% of those using mLearning claimed that they would put into practice what they learnt – 5% more than those learning from other channels. So assuming there is no longer any need to make the case for mobile learning what are the places where a real impact is being be felt?
1. Highly mobile force:
IDC has estimated that this year 37.2% of the total workforce worldwide will be mobile, nearly 1.3 billion people. Perhaps the largest section of this workforce is those people who have to be on the move in the course of performing their duties – sales and service professionals for example. With so many people on-the-go at all times the most convenient way for them to access their necessary learning modules is clearly over their mobile devices. Learning content is also being conditioned to address this large learning force – smaller, more specific modules and bite size chunks are becoming more the norm. Then there are the advances in technology. Off-line players now allow mlearners to access modules at their convenience when sudden or unplanned for breaks open up in their schedules – think while waiting at the airport for a flight. All good reasons why 75% of those in a recent survey claimed that mLearning was more convenient and allowed them to manage their time better.
2. Field force:
This is a section of the workforce that primarily performs it’s duties at remote sites where computing infrastructure is not always easily available. Think about supply chain professionals deployed in warehouses or maintenance crews assigned to remote sites. The clear advantage of mobile learning to these workers is the availability of content on-demand just when they need it. Some of the best examples of mLearning for such learners are those that include simulations of real life applications and the like. This effort is tremendously aided by the development in imaging and animation technology and the enhanced capacity of smartphones to render visuals.
3. Classroom Integration:
Well publicised psychological studies have shown that mobile learning can make the absorption of learning faster and improve retention. It’s small wonder then that mobile devices, primarily tablets, are finding adoption in greater number in classrooms too. The initial efforts are focused around replacing some of the more mundane activities with mobile based activities – for example interactively explore content through touch and feel. This is rapidly giving way to the addition of activities that use the various capabilities of the device much better –group based activities and activities that leverage the location sensing and the camera for example.
This is not a new trend – A Talent LMS survey last year showed that nearly 80% of learners felt their productivity would rise if their work situations were more game-like. This interest translates into the learning context as well with nearly 90% of those surveyed agreeing that they would engage better with their eLearning if there was a point system to follow. Gamification is all set for an even greater thrust with the mobile coming into the picture. The same Talent survey found that nearly 75% were already gamers – quite likely on their mobile devices. Enhanced visual capability, movement sensing and better online and offline modes make the game experience more familiar to learners and hence more likely to be utilised.
Mobile learning is here to stay – watch this space as even more areas come under its spell. The question for those reading this is how are you leveraging the mobile in your learning? If you have already taken that call how is that working for you?