It may not be news, but mobile is everywhere. “Mobile First” is impacting life (and learning) as we know it.
Almost 80% of Americans have a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance you’re reading this on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device – the same device you likely order movie tickets on, or respond to work emails, book an Uber, or refill your prescriptions with. The average mobile user looks at their device 221 times a day!
It’s hard to recall a world before digital immersion controlled our lives, and we increasingly expect to be able to do everything on mobile – including training and learning. We’re getting there faster than ever, and businesses globally are discovering the benefits.
Still, there are some holdouts in business and government, sectors which typically are slow to respond to rapid changes due to technological advancements. The mobile-first push is a response to how people are overwhelmingly utilizing information technology; and enterprise, government and educational spheres are now playing an accelerated game of catch-up as they overhaul the way they do things.
There are some valid reasons for why certain sectors were slow to embrace mobile, but we’ve hit critical mass, and the benefits simply outweigh the drawbacks.
A decade of change
It’s been a decade since Apple dropped the first iPhone on an unsuspecting world. As with the spread of internet and broadband adoption, it was a textbook case of market disruption. Followed soon after by Google’s Android platform, this mobile duopoly-in-the-making went on to virtually clear the field of rivals who couldn’t keep up with their robust application suites and an explosion of touch-friendly games and entertainment options.
The first modern smartphones were certainly seen as entertainment-centric early on, and perhaps because of this, businesses were resistant to scrapping their BlackBerry deployments.
At the time, the focus had been increasingly on productivity, as seen in the Palm Treo line and Research In Motion’s (now BlackBerry) handsets, decked out with precise physical keyboards and secure email and calendar solutions. With RIM in particular, it took a while for their foothold in the enterprise landscape to falter, due to their business- and government-friendly security and productivity features, and years of trust-building with slow-to-adapt businesses.
As mobile platforms matured, the tension increased between what users wanted to have access to and what employers preferred to allow.
Kicking and screaming
This is where millenials and “digital natives” – those who grew up in the digital age – come in.
With a generational tech schism in full swing, the rapid adoption of mobile tech and faster cellular networks and Wi-Fi led to a strong preference for devices and interfaces a ballooning segment of the population was adept with. People already had the latest and greatest tech in their pockets – why would they want to use the throwbacks at work?
The inevitable BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend led to a bit of hand-wringing in IT departments, but the tsunami of public opinion and habits brought about a gradual re-evaluation in workplace applications. Today, many iOS and Android devices are provisioned by companies to varying degrees. Whether personally- or corporate-owned, Steve Jobs is smiling down from his curved-glass cloud. The chart below furnished by a recent study by Frost & Sullivan Research will give you the picture.
Go where they are: embrace mobile learning
And here we come to mobile learning…
A mobile-optimized learning management system is a must. Forty-seven percent of organizations already use mobile devices in their training programs. And by 2018, the mobile workforce is going to double or triple in size, according to Gartner Research. Since accessibility of mobile devices is said to yeild a 34% increase in work productivity – almost 1/3 of the work day, we can be sure mobile training will likely follow the same trend. Learning, too, has to join the mobile first movement!
The benefits are there: those utilizing a mobile learning interface typically study 40 minutes longer than when on a desktop. Another recent study found that smartphone learners complete course material 45% faster.
Mobile friendly training
The critical key here is making training mobile friendly, which means that training should be easily scaled and resized to fit various screen sizes. This is known as mobile responsiveness. Google has a great video example of dynamic resizing of screen elements with responsive web design. See a few examples below.
A basic weather page would display like this on a smartphone:
Accessing the same page on a tablet would yield the same information appropriate to a larger screen:
A strong Learning Management System utilize responsive design to ensure every element of the learning interface displays properly on any device. The screen is proportionally scaled for smartphones, tablets, and yes, desktop computers. With Mindflash, you can allow learners to take any course on any device – desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, and we offer resources to help get you up-and-running.
It’s a powerful tool that’s easy to use, and our customers love it, as our online reviews show.
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