Skillsoft Blog

On the Road to Mobile Learning

By Jim Zimmermann

When I’m working on the AnalystPerspectives Weekly Scan Newsletter, I can’t help but notice how much attention the analyst community is paying to mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks and e-book readers.  Analysts see these devices radically changing the enterprise and how employees conduct business.  In light of the current iPhone 4 hype stemming from its shipment this week, it’s a good time examine what the explosion of smartphones means for mobile learning.

As of Q1 2010, Nielsen data shows that 23% of mobile consumers now have a smartphone, up from just 16% in Q2 2009.

Employees are becoming incredibly attached to their mobile devices – especially their smartphones. There are millions of Blackberries, iPhones and Android-based smartphones in use, with Blackerry leading the market and iPhones, Windows Mobile and Android-based devices slugging it out for second place.


Analysts report that Android–based smartphones have recently overtaken the iPhone in terms of monthly sales volume and overall interest in Android phones continues to mirror that of the iPhone:


So what are employees doing with these mobile devices? Sometimes they actually use their smartphones to make calls, check email or send text messages. But often you will find them downloading information from the web or using one of the tens-of-thousands of applications that are available for download or purchase.  While some of these applications are for entertainment, many of them are learning related – though not in the same context that most readers of this blog consider learning. Employees are learning about special offers, what products to buy, what their favorite sports teams are doing, and a host of other “learning” activities. So how can you capture some of their “learning” enthusiasm and get them doing work-related e learning on their mobile devices?

Offering corporate learning on mobile devices poses a number of challenges. Unless you are prepared to provide your employees iPads or other mobile devices with large screens, you may be challenged to provide a satisfying learning experience on small smartphone screens. Some learning products such as SkillSoft’s Books24x7 digital books solution provide a user experience optimized for small smartphone screens, without sacrificing the quality of the user’s learning experience.

Audio and video-based learning also adapts to the smaller screens rather well. Your employees probably are downloading video and music and watching YouTube videos from their devices, so why not offer them audio downloads of book summaries (e.g. Books24x7 ExecSummaries collection) or leadership skills training videos (e.g. SkillSoft’s Leadership Development Channel)?

The impact of mobile devices in the enterprise will continue to increase.  How have you enabled your employees to be mobile learners?


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