How is Mobile Learning Evolving?

Whether employer-provided or personally purchased, mobile devices are in the hands of millions of employees worldwide, offering unparalleled opportunities for learning functions to connect with their companies’ workforces. To discover the progress organizations are making in adding mobile capabilities to their learning programs, ATD and i4cp collaborated on a research on mobile learning.The research began with a survey fielded in February 2015 to which 411 learning and business professionals responded. Participants Mobile-Learningrepresented organizations worldwide, 55 percent with workforces of 1,000 or more. Companies operated nationally, internationally, and globally, conducting business across a wide range of industries. Researchers took a blended approach, combining survey results with subsequent interviews of learning leaders experienced in applying mobile technologies to support their organizations’ learning programs. Unless otherwise noted, the graphs presented in the Study reflect survey participants’ high/very high extent responses.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Mobile learning still isn’t widespread—only about one in three organizations have programs in place. Twenty-one percent of survey respondents were using mobile learning informally (unstructured programs), while only 13 percent said their mobile program was formal (courses and content have specified objectives and a specific structure). Another 37 percent affirmed plans to implement mobile learning in the future.
  • Effectiveness of mobile learning programs is lagging. Among those using mobile learning, less than a third (31 percent) claimed a high level of effectiveness. However, organizations that achieved such success were also likely to report higher market performance and higher effectiveness in their overall learning efforts.
  • Many companies supply mobile devices. Two-thirds of organizations represented in the survey provided smartphones to employees, although few do so without qualification. Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) said they provide employees with tablets. Most devices (of both types) were supplied on the basis of job type or job level.
  • Bring your own device (BYOD) continues to be a viable option for organizations. Fifty-eight percent of professionals surveyed said their firms already support BYOD or plan to. Companies that support BYOD are also likely to report high levels of effectiveness in organizational learning.
  • Most mobile learning programs support sales and operations functions. Executive-level management, marketing, and human resources were among other business units, in addition to sales and operations, likely to benefit from mobile learning in at least a third of organizations represented in the study.
  • Learning professionals develop content applicable to both devices rather than designing for tablets or phones. The largest proportion of respondents (58 percent) said they modify existing learning content for mobile delivery, and nearly as many use a combination of repurposed and new content created internally.
  • Measurement is happening, but not always formally. About half of survey participants said they have metrics in place to gauge the effectiveness of the learning programs they deliver through mobile devices. Companies use both formal and informal measures, as well as a blend of the two. The blended approach showed a high correlation to effectiveness in both overall learning and mobile learning.
  • Lack of funding is the biggest constraint for mobile learning programs. Other significant barriers arise from insufficient information technology (IT) infrastructure to support mobile technologies, a dearth of the skills required to design learning content for mobile devices, and concerns about the security of mobile delivery.


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