Mobile learning gains popularity

We live in a competitive world where employees need to be equipped with the right knowledge, tools and capabilities in order to effectively drive productivity and sales within their environments.

So says Kirsty Chadwick, founder and chair of The Training Room Online, who notes that empowering employees can drive productivity within the workplace.

She believes this encourages employees to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for the results of those decisions. "Staff training is a key component to running a successful, well-oiled business," she says. "The significance of training within an organisation is something that we are well aware of, but how can any organisation afford to train their staff without suffering a loss in productivity?"

Numerous benefits

Chadwick explains that the advent of e-learning brought about many changes to the manner in which people learn, and also to the outcome of the learning process. It is designed to be simple and easy to understand, while also being engaging and specifically structured to suit the target audience. "E-learning completely eliminates geographical challenges, while minimising time spent away from the job at hand, not to mention the saving on overheads. Since 2000, the global e-learning market has grown by 900%, and recent studies have projected that, by 2019, 50% of all classes taught will be delivered online," she says.

According to Chadwick, one of the most important facets of e-learning is the fact that it is self-directed, which can significantly reduce the time it takes for an employee to complete a course. She explains that, instead of waiting for a classroom of learners to be on the same page, employees are able to move ahead with the study material in their own time and as quickly as they are able to absorb the information.

Growing industry

According to Global Industry Analysts, corporate training alone is a $200 billion industry, while e-learning represents $56.2 billion of this amount, and is expected to grow to around $107 billion by 2015.

As computers become increasingly essential as educational tools, particularly within the corporate sector, technologies continue to develop and become more portable and cost-effective - mobile learning is a perfect example of this, Chadwick says. "In a recent report by Ambient Insight, it was predicted that the mobile learning market would reach $9.1 billion by 2015. According to Unicef, next to Nigeria and Egypt, SA houses the largest number of mobile subscribers on the continent, with around 20% of the population owning a smartphone. Smartphone growth in Africa has increased by 43% annually since 2000, and experts predict that 69% of mobiles in Africa will have Internet access by 2014," she says.

Chadwick explains that, as market competition has increased in recent years and mobile phone prices have fallen, there has been a dramatic escalation in the use of these devices. Evolving markets and high employee turnover are driving the need for learning that is accessible at any time and anywhere. "Knowledge gaps can easily be uncovered through online assessments that are embedded in the training courses, and these courses can also be updated relatively quickly and easily to incorporate any additional information, as needed. Mobile learning has the ability to give any organisation a competitive edge by allowing employees access to vital information at the instant they require it," notes Chadwick.

Plan and evaluate

She urges organisations contemplating the shift to mobile learning to have a suitable plan in place before moving forward. "You will need to determine why mobile learning will be beneficial for your organisation and make sure that you are aware of the changes that would need to take place in order to incorporate it into your business. The needs of your organisation need to be adequately assessed if you hope to achieve success through mobile learning."

According to Chadwick, before going mobile, there are certain factors that need to be considered. Firstly, ask if there are any specific problems within the organisation that mobile learning would help to solve. Are there any people within the organisation who don't currently have access to resources, for which mobile learning will be a great benefit? Businesses also need to consider things like technology. What is needed to support the mobile learning infrastructure? Can the current learning system be converted to mobile learning? Does the business have the e-learning tools and the time that is needed to develop a mobile learning application? She adds that financial restrictions also need to be taken into consideration, as well as whether the transition to mobile will require change management.

"Once you have determined the answers to these vital questions, you will then need to determine how you plan to evaluate the effectiveness of mobile learning within your organisation.

"If it is implemented correctly, mobile learning can be exceptionally beneficial to your employees, which, in turn, will be beneficial to your organisation as a whole. Continuous training brings about a significant increase in employee performance, which, at the end of the day, directly impacts on productivity and profitability within an organisation," she concludes.

Staff Writer

ITWeb's journalist

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