Returning back from the 2013 Learning Technologies show, it was clear that there were two main themes dominating this year’s event: First, the appetite for learning using mobile devices – and second, the need to support a diverse range of learning – all in a cost effective way.
The line between corporate and personal mobile devices in the workplace is starting to blur. Independent research suggests nearly 10 million UK employees will be using personal devices in the workplace by 2016.1 The adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, coupled with the variety of easy-to-use media available, means that there is a fantastic opportunity to reach more learners in multiple locations.
Despite this rise in popularity of BYOD, a surprising number of organisations are not embracing the trend. Recent research from KPMG found that 71 percent of learners think it is convenient to access training from mobile devices and 56 percent are likely to access it outside of the office. However, Video Arts own audit of over 500 L&D professionals revealed that only 8 percent of L&D professionals said they incorporate any form of mobile learning as part of their training toolbox. Meanwhile 89 percent of organisations are still using classroom based learning. The pressing challenge is therefore to identify the hurdles leading to this low adoption rate and how they can be overcome.
Why the low adoption rate of mobile learning?
Following further conversations with L&D professionals, we identified six main barriers preventing organisations from embracing mobile learning (or m-learning)
- Existing platforms often lacked relevant and engaging content, focusing on text-based content with a very narrow breadth of subject areas.
- Training content within the organisation was often content ported across from existing e-learning platforms, which wasn’t designed for a learner on-the-move. This means content looked too linear and involved too many fiddly interactions.
- Learning platforms implemented in the organisation were not originally designed for a small screen device. For example, learning navigation designed for use on a laptop screen was not easy to use on a BlackBerry or touchscreen device.
- Organisations did not automatically issue mobile devices for training. This may have been due to budget restrictions or privacy issues.
- Employees that were given mobile devices may not all have had the same make or model, making a consistent rollout of m-learning near impossible.
- The organisations may have adopted BYOD organically, but failed to develop any formal policies to guide staff on mobile usage, security and removal of content outside the corporate network.
Mobile learning solutions need to be easy to use but accessible. That’s why our own mobile learning courses are specifically designed to operate across a range of operating platforms including Apple, BlackBerry and Android devices.
Embracing the BYOD revolution To reap the benefits of mobile learning in the workplace organisations need to embrace the BYOD revolution – it’s about making the most of the technology and an employee mind-set that sees a personal smartphone as an essential bit of kit: for work and play. This was evident in the 2012 Ofcom communications market 2012 report which revealed how more users than ever before are relying on smartphone technology to manage the overlap between their personal lives and working lives. According to the report, 60 percent of mobile users in the UK alone own a smartphone and most (59 percent) have acquired their smartphone over the past year. Of the smartphone users who work, 30 percent regularly use their phone at work for personal calls, while 35 percent regularly use their phone for work calls while ‘off duty’. A quarter of those surveyed even used their smartphone for work while on leave. Whilst corporate barriers will always exist to new technology and training innovations; overcoming them and embracing a BYOD approach will pay dividends in the take up and ROI of mobile learning.
References: 1Bring Your Own Technology: Opportunities and threats from disruption” report, April 2012.www.techmarketview.com