Out in the woods
Or in the city
It’s all the same to me
When I’m drivin’ free,
The world’s my home
When I’m mobile.
-The Who, “Goin’ Mobile”
OK, hang on tight, because I’m crawling way out on a limb here: I think mobile phones are here to stay. And I don’t think mobile learning is going anywhere soon either.
I’m much more confident in one of those statements than the other. I’ve just finished looking over a study that definitely supports the first bold statement, and pretty strongly supports the second as well.
The report, “Mobile Learning: Delivering Learning in a Connected World,” was conducted earlier this year, when ASTD and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) surveyed 567 business and learning professionals. The full report addresses information like barriers to using mobile learning, best practices and recommendations.
But here today, in the interest of space and time, let’s just digest some pretty fascinating (some would say frightening) numbers.
Let’s start with the phone usage, with some numbers from other sources cited in the ASTD/i4cp study:
- In 2011, according to ITU, there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide. That’s equal to 87 percent of the world’s population.
- Citing numbers from Mobithinking.com, those subs are up greatly in 2011, from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion in 2009. (I’m pretty sure I’m spotting a trend here.)
- Next-generation wireless broadband is expected to provide speeds up to 100 times faster than that of current smartphones (ITU).
- By the end of 2011, Nielsen Research expected more than half of the phones sold in the United States to be smartphones.
Bob Dylan was right: The times, they are a’changin’.
OK more phones, faster speed …. We all knew that was coming. Here’s a look at the learning component now, and some of this might surprise you:
- Less than one-third of companies deliver mobile learning.
- Less than 10 percent of those that offer mobile learning have formal metrics to track efficacy.
- More than 52 percent of respondents feel their organizations lack the internal expertise to design mobile learning.
- Chief barriers to adopting mobile learning are budget issues (46 percent), integration with existing systems (37 percent) and security concerns (36 percent).
- Despite all that, more than half of respondents believe mobile technologies will improve their workforce development in the next three years.
So if someone builds it, they will come. A familiar refrain, to be sure.
Clearly, mobile learning is building from what some might call a slow start. Slow, of course, is a relevant term …. 20 years ago mobile phones were the size of footballs and the pay phone was still the most common method for on-the-go communications. You also no longer hear those Chicken Little stories about mobile causing brain cancer.
So the next steps? The ASTD/i4cp report offered a few recommendations:
- Reassess your learning strategy and determine your organization’s objectives.
- Partner with internal unites to speed processes and increase the likelihood of success.
- Take advantage of the mobile web.
- Identify the impact of mobile learning by putting formal metrics into place.
Acting on the assumption that all that is easier said than done, I’m also happy to share a couple of additional resources with you. We have two TrainingIndustry.com webinars coming up in June that will address mobile learning, and I’m sure either or both will be valuable uses of your time.
Just click through to get more info and register:
So wrapping all this up, the ASTD/i4cp numbers certainly show opportunity for mobile learning providers and potential value for mobile learning proponents … not to mention users. There’s a lot of room for growth, which means there’s nowhere to go but up. It’s going to be an interesting few years.