Global financial services firm Morgan Stanley estimates that by 2015, more users will connect to the Internet via mobile devices than by desktop PC. For this reason, many predict a continued rise in the use of mobile devices for learning. Mobile learning has been a hot topic in learning forums for the better part of a decade now. This year is no different, with mobile learning showing up on trend reports including Learning Solutions Magazine's “Looking Back, Looking Forward," ASTD’s Training and Development (T&D) Magazine's “Six Trends That Will Change Workplace Learning Forever” and eLearn Magazine's “Predictions For e-Learning in 2011.”
There has been much advancement in the use of mobile devices to deliver learning:
- T&D Magazine featured a Fortune 500 company who is successfully using the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) to deliver new hire training in the December 2010 article, “Entering the mobile zone.”
- New York Times reports on how schools are using the iPad to reinforce math skills: Math That Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad.
- Smart phones, especially the iPhone, have been used for mobile corporate learning solutions - you can even buy lectures from popular classes at Ivy League schools at Apple’s iTunes University.
The combination of mobile devices and other technologies, such as GPS and video, will further the exploration of how to apply mobile learning in the workplace. The use of company social media and learning games can encourage using mobile devices for career development. The ease of use and ability to share information allows for always up-to-date learning materials from many different sources. Finally, mobile devices are not only being used for learning, but also to provide tailored, on-demand performance support. Allison Rossett breaks down the difference between mobile learning and performance support and how they can both be used to enhance learning in her Ode to Mobile Performance Support article.
All of these factors point to how mobile devices are the future of learning despite the slow incline of their application in workplace learning. The key to success when developing mobile learning is to tailor the design of the learning content for the medium. Simply transferring an e-learning course to the dimensions of a phone screen will not suffice. Consider How To Build Mobile e-Learning from Learning Solutions Magazine for best practices. Mobile learning should not be the only type of learning offered; it should be used in combination with other delivery methods. Companies should always conduct an analysis to determine the best blend of delivery methods for their specific audience and goals.