A few years back, Gartner had predicted that “the mobile workforce is going to double or triple in size by the year 2018, as more and more remote workers now rely on their mobile devices.” Today, this prediction is not too far from becoming a reality. According to a recent report by RCR Wireless News, “The global mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people or 42.5% of the global workforce in 2022, up from 38.8% in 2016.”
Mobile devices are permeating into our lives and how!
‘Mobile’, the word has two different meanings. One is ‘able to move or be moved freely or easily’, while the other, and the more popular one, relates to ‘mobile phones, handheld computers, and similar technology’. Though we speak in terms of the latter, mobility is a one of the key aspect that any mobile device offers. With a major share of the workforce juggling between 2-3 devices each day to get their work done, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that Learning and Development ventures too have been focusing on making training ‘mobile’ and ‘accessible’.
The concept of ‘Mobile’ however, is often hinged on one critical element- ‘connectivity’. According to McKinsey & Company, “more than 60 percentage of the world’s population remains offline.” If you think that’s staggering, consider the remaining 40 percentage with Internet access when travelling to places with low/ no connectivity issues. Mobile devices are practically rendered useless. Imagine if this was a everyday scenario for an office worker with an on-the-go job and training content at hand. That s/he would not be ever able to complete her/ his training in time would be an understatement.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It also goes by the term ‘Mobile LMS’. This app-based ecosystem with ‘offline mode’ capability which can make learning truly ‘mobile’ is now blooming, and setting pace to its growth are the 3 key aspects as mentioned below.
1. Rapid Growth in Mobile Usage
According to Ambient Insight’s 2012-2017 Worldwide Mobile Learning Market Forecast, “the Worldwide Market For Mobile Learning Will Reach $12.2 Billion By 2017.” Mobile Learning is growing at a rapid pace and this clearly indicates the growing acceptance of learning on smaller devices (small screen sizes), the rapid increase of mobile apps, and that of Learning Management System (LMS) or learning portals catering to a wider range of devices.
Every learner has his/her own preference when it comes to devices. Which then leads to a big question when considering a mobile learning strategy – that of the ‘design’. Mobile LMSs aim to cater to learning anywhere, anytime. Keeping the connectivity aspect in light, the need does not always call for Responsive access on the Learner side, but for Mobile (offline) LMS that makes learning available 24X7- without the compulsion of being hooked to a network, and without the hassle of panning and zooming to read the content.
2. BYOD and Just-in-time (JIT) Learning
Research points out that, “By 2020, the workforce will be comprised of five different generations for the first time ever. And by 2025, more than 70% of the workforce will be millennials.”
Rapid growth is just one aspect that defines change, the other aspect is the changing demographic and the subsequent change in organizational policies and learning strategies.
The increase in the number of digital-savvy employees coupled with an increasing demand for information at their fingertips (that too in congruence with their personal lives), have led organizations to open up the gates for ‘Bring-Your-Own-Device’(BYOD). And it is here to stay.
However, one of the biggest challenges that BYOD poses is that of ‘Security’. In the words of Gartner Analyst, David Willis, “More employees and more devices mean more security and management tool costs, more application licenses, more potential problems for an overtaxed help desk to deal with and more confusion.” Managing the risk without costing employee satisfaction can be arduous, more so when training is considered. At times, even the learning content can be sensitive and personal data protection a priority. While web-based LMSs may fall short in terms of proper security measures, Mobile App-based LMSs (for popular operating systems) are often equipped with features like authentication, encryption, and security protocols to protect sensitive data etc., ensuring learning minus the security hassles.
Another aspect that makes Mobile LMS popular amongst the millennials is its ability to deliver JIT learning. Mobile LMS delivers learning at fingertips.
3. Easy Access
With the increasing popularity of mobile devices and the growing acceptance towards making learning accessible on those, mobile-based, multi-device, responsive eLearning has been gaining popularity. LMSs too are designed to meet the requirement with their responsive Learner side. But, often these still fall short to deliver the seamless experience that learners wish for. While learning can be easily accessed using web-based LMSs in the office or at places with good Wi-Fi, 3G/4G connection, what if they wish to learn offline? As mentioned in the beginning, this sets Mobile (offline) LMS apart from the lot.
A Mobile(offline) LMS allows learners to download content, access it on-the-go, while the application keeps track of the usage pattern, records data and synchronizes everything when connected to a secure-trusted network.
While mobile-based learning and mobile LMSs have great potential, it has hitherto been used to the fullest. As Ambient Insight points out, “one consistent pattern found across the globe is the absence of Mobile Learning used for internal corporate training and education.” With the ever-expanding mobile workforce and organizational policies that support an open learning ecosystem, it’s a new era for learning that is totally “mobile” – the dawn of learning facilitated by Mobile LMSs.
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