For over two years now, we have not only just been hearing about mobile learning but also actively understanding and working on it. From trying to explain five myths of mobile learning to assisting customer new to mobile learning, getting started with mobile learning has been an exciting journey through which we have seen mobile learning seeing increasing adoption. This has been possible due to a variety of factors – better, faster, cheaper smartphones, the advent of tablet computers, and an increasing awareness of the benefits and applicability of mobile learning.
In last many months we have written a number of blog posts around mobile learning ranging from development tips, general examples, tips and tricks, etc. A number of these posts can be found at this link.
The last few months have been very exciting given the response we received for our new offering in mobile learning – Upside2Go. As we continue to work on that we ended up doing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis for mobile learning. I am sharing a quick snapshot of the same here:
- No more just a buzzword or science fiction.
- Practical, affordable and exciting devices available to enable learning on mobile.
- Devices getting faster and better, with increasing memory and storage capacity making it possible for complex applications to reside on devices.
- One of the most relevant tools (currently) for performance support.
- Internet connectivity on phones not restricted to WiFi alone. Options like EDGE, 3G, 4G and even WAP exist. SMS and Voice can also be used for learning tools on mobile.
- Development platforms for mobile are easy-to-use and do not involve most of the complications associated with desktop or system software.
- Both ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ strategies can be mixed for best results
- Myriad number of operating platforms, device types and variations in supported technologies make it difficult (and at times impractical) to create a unified solution which works well across the board.
- Still fast moving in terms of technologies. In addition to the challenges in Point 1, the technology itself evolves fast making it challenging to keep up both at consumer’s end and at the vendor’s end.
- While the development platforms and tools are easy-to-use, using such tools to design effective learning solutions is another matter altogether. It requires a skill-set that includes instructional and media design competencies for mobile device, and interface & user experience design skills.
- Concerns still revolve around basic device security and data security. Lack of common standards for mobiles adds to the confusion.
- Lack of tools to create engaging mobile learning content. Due to lack of Flash
- One of the best ways to offer quick, real-time on-demand performance support. More than pushing training on to a mobile device, designing mobile performance support solutions would be the greatest opportunity.
- Front end or middle layer for the LMS. I believe this would be a big opportunity as it allows enterprises to extend a part of the LMS environment on to the mobile devices thus allowing an integrated approach. This covers traditional training components – training schedule, notifications, performance support – reach out to experts, and even social learning and collaboration components – friends, sharing content (even generate content like photo and video quickly using device capability).
- Early stage technology curve.
- Lack of standards for learning on mobile, and even general use of technology on mobiles.
- Lack of vendor focus. Not many vendors have been able to innovate and come up with relevant solutions. Vendor mindsets may still be revolving around LMS, PMS, etc.
- Multiple platforms and varied technical frameworks. Adds to complexity in terms of design and development. Specially when the need is to build native apps which can utilize the true potential of the mobile platform.
Though there are clear and actionable weaknesses and threats that mobile learning faces today, there is also a set of opportunities that will see mobile learning becoming an integral part of workplace learning strategies in the time to come.