Your employees want to use their tablets to access learning content. You suspected as much for a while, but now they're just coming up to you in the hallway and saying it to your face. It's out there now and you can't ignore it. But how ready is your organization to make that happen? Are you equipped to make the transition from eLearning (desktop PCs) to mLearning? Is a transition really necessary? Should mLearning complement eLearning or replace it altogether? Do you know the difference between mLearning and Tablet Learning?
What about your team? Have your instructional designers started creating learning programs to be delivered via iPad® or another tablet? Should your designers focus on building apps or is it better to just go with HTML5? Should your organization invest in smartphones or tablets?
If considering these questions makes you queasy, don't worry about it - you've got plenty of company. Although it may seem so, the train has not left the station - at least not yet. While there's a lot of enthusiasm and chatter about the potential of mobile learning, we're still quite a ways from truly broad implementation. Yes, mobile devices are everywhere, but that ubiquity will take some time to jump to delivery of learning content because of various factors - resources, security and the state of technological infrastructure in some parts of the world, to name just a few.
A study i4cp conducted earlier this year in partnership with ASTD, Mobile Learning: Delivering Learning to a Connected World, found that many learning professionals see a great deal of promise in how mobile technology can transform the delivery of learning. The survey also found, however, that this promise of mobile learning is viewed as something that remains on the horizon; just one-third of the 567 survey respondents currently deliver learning content via mobile device. Most respondents told us they expected to see progress made in the next three years.
So what's the hold-up?
How much time do you have? Seriously - the list of barriers to mobile learning implementation can go on for days. The most commonly cited roadblock is - no surprise here - cost. Budgets are still tight and, while adopting mobile learning may sound affordable in theory, there are still all those other pesky issues like what to do with the (expensive) learning systems you already have in place? Trying to justify the spend feels almost like asking your dad for a new iPhone® when it seems like just six months before he got you that cool little MP3 player. If mobile learning can't be integrated into what your organization has already invested in (and is basically stuck with for now) what then?
And then there are your colleagues in IT telling you how much of an unbelievable hassle mobile learning will be in terms of security concerns. "And what about measuring effectiveness? How is that supposed to happen?" your colleagues ask you. And that's about the time you start regretting having brought it up. But don't panic. Even though it may seem like it - especially if your boss let you go to the MLearn conference this year - everyone is not doing it.
At least not yet.
If the findings from our latest research on mobile learning tell us anything, it's that now's the time to start doing your own research and planning to help prepare your organization for change in the way that learning is delivered. We know that there are all sorts of reasons and circumstances that may preclude a company from incorporating mobile devices into their learning functions today or even in the near future, but many of those organizations are preparing for change they foresee in the years ahead by developing a strategy for integrating mobile devices into their learning delivery now.
Full adoption of mobile learning may still be a few years ahead, but there is no doubt that the technology has the potential to redefine learning and be a serious game-changer in the quest to align learning's goals and outcomes with business needs and performance.
Lorrie Lykins is i4cp's Managing Editor and Director of Research Services. She has been engaged in the study of human capital management since 2002 and has published widely to include authoring a chapter in the ASTD Leadership Handbook (2010) and publishing feature articles and editorials in various journals and magazines. Her work at i4cp has been featured in both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She is an adjunct professor at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.