The Mobile Challenge: Giving The Modern Learners What They Want

From eLearning Industry by Laura Overton

Modern learners are mobile learners. They want to access the information and tools they need, when they need them, and on a variety of devices. It is all about learning at the point of need these days; we know this much. But is the modern learner getting the mobile experience they want at work?

According to our In-Focus report, Mobile Learning in the Workplace, mobile learning is definitely on the rise, big time. Our research shows that it really took off in 2013; this was the year that mobile learning became the norm, rather than the exception. And it’s still growing.

Modern learners are pushing the mobile learning agenda, but many employers have taken up the challenge as well, recognizing that the future is mobile and implementing new learning practices. Some are more forward-thinking and mobile-advanced than others, and some are more tuned into how their workforce is learning and wants to learn than others.

When conducting our research, we found that the top learning companies -respondents in the top quartile of the Towards Maturity Index– are more likely to have incorporated mobile devices in learning than those in lower quartiles. This indicates that mobile learning offers real business benefits.

These are some of the key findings:

  • 71% of respondents are using mobile devices, up from 36% in 2010 and 47% in 2012.
  • This proportion rises to 83% (up from 65% last year) in top learning companies.
  • Top learning companies are also more likely to be using and developing mobile apps.
  • 52% provide learners with smartphones, rising to 60% in top learning companies.
  • 48% provide learners with tablets, rising to 57% in top learning companies.
  • 41% have a policy of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), rising to 66% in top learning companies.

As these figures demonstrate, most organizations have embraced mobile learning. A lot of them have formulated Bring Your Own Device policies. Some provide employees with smartphones or tablets. Tablets are the huge success story of the fast few years; the fastest growing market of all mobile devices.

Typically, Bring Your Own Device occurs in large organizations of 20.000 plus, multinationals and organizations with over 10 years’ experience of using eLearning. Furthermore, 38% of those organizations fall into the top quartile of the Towards Maturity Index.

Are these businesses enjoying any benefits as a result of their policies? We found that 43% of the Bring Your Own Device group reported improvements in organizational productivity because of eLearning, with 48% of their managers reporting additional business benefits. Plus, 29% say it has made a significant contribution to increasing organizational revenue. Those are the business benefits, what about staff benefits? Well, 37% of the Bring Your Own Device group said learners put what they had learnt into practice quickly, 34% said learners recommend eLearning to colleagues to improve job performance and 35% noticed positive changes in staff behavior. Those organizations providing smartphones or tablets to their workforce also report the same benefits, but to a lesser degree.

Organizations that are going mobile need to do it properly. They need to do it strategically and with a real understanding of what their learners want and need and how this ties into business needs. It’s very easy to do a half-hearted job; such as going mobile, but not enabling content for mobile use or not using learning tools that are best suited to mobile delivery.

A big concern for businesses –and quite rightly so– is always security. Going mobile can mean increased IT security risks, particularly with employees bringing their own devices into work. Organizations need to manage these risks as best they can, such as offering tablets or smartphones for employees to use or deploying Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology.

When done well, mobile learning brings many advantages to organizations; increased productivity, revenue, staff satisfaction, and so on. It enables modern learners to learn at the point of need and use that learning immediately in their jobs. What’s not to like about that?

Here’s what our research of more than 5,000 learners tells us about what motivates people to learn online:

  1. 75% want to be able to do their job faster and better.
  2. 51% like to learn just for personal development.
  3. 50% want to be eligible for promotion.
  4. 47% want to obtain professional certification.
  5. 41% want to be enabled to earn more money.
  6. 39% want to keep up with new technology.
  7. 35% want to achieve/maintain a higher certification level.
  8. 35% want to increase productivity.
  9. 22% want to pass an assessment.
  10. 10% want to compete against colleagues for a high score.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™ is a useful tool to help you understand how effective your Learning and Development strategies are and how you compare to peers and top performing learning organizations.

If you are keen to find out how effective your Learning and Development team is, make sure you benchmark this year: it’s open until 31 July. More than 3,500 organizations have taken part to date, so there is plenty of data for you to benchmark against.

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