The rise of mobile technologies on a global scale is rapidly changing the way people live, work and learn. With smartphones and tablets more affordable and accessible than ever, mobile learning, often referred to as m-learning, has finally taken off.
Not only is mobile learning no longer perceived to be the next big thing, it is beginning to prove its worth as a key component of the learning mix and as a valuable technique for boosting skills development and for improving performance, productivity and engagement.
The latest annual Benchmark Study by learning technologies analyst Towards Maturity shows mobile learning has entered into the realms of being a mainstream learning technology with mobile learning deployment rising from 45% in 2012 to a staggering 71% this year.
Times are changing and a paradigm shift towards learning anytime, anywhere, and on any device is underway. There are several major forces contributing to this growing adoption of mobile learning.
Large scale smartphone and tablet adoption
Without doubt, the single biggest driver is the proliferation of mobile devices, one of the greatest technological advancements seen in the workplace in the last decade. According to IT giant Cisco, by the end of this year the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth. This will be a first for technology and demonstrates the explosive growth of mobile devices.
By 2018, Cisco predicts that 54% of global devices will be ‘smart’ devices and connection speeds will have increased two-fold. Meanwhile, mobile research from Strategy Analytics and iPass reveal there are more than one billion smartphones in use worldwide; 64% of mobile workers now carry a tablet; and 61% of the average worker’s day is within the range of a Wi-Fi network. Infrastructure improvements such as 4G are also making mobile learning a more desirable option.
Rise in BYOD policies
Tablets are predicted to soon eclipse PC sales and the shift from PCs to mobile devices in the workplace is being fuelled yet further by Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. BYOD is becoming increasingly prevalent as companies realise the benefits of making business applications available securely on users’ own mobile devices. A recent iPass report found that 81% of global companies now accommodate personal devices in the office and 54% have BYOD policies in place.
Strong learner demand
Also of paramount importance are learners and their increased appetite for mobile learning. Today’s global workforce is more mobile and tech-savvy than ever before. Learners are taking greater control of their learning and demonstrating a greater need and desire for information on demand and for learning on the go. IDC predicts that 1.3 billion people will be mobile by 2015. The preference for mobile learning is only going to grow as the proportion of tech-savvy Millennials (Generation Y) increases to 75% of the global workforce by 2025 and as Generation Z enters the workplace too.
So what does the mobile revolution mean for organisations and for learners? And what is RICS doing to enable this paradigm change?
Mobile learning is all about ‘mobility’ and learning on the go in today’s time-pressured working environment. It is particularly suited to managers and employees working off-site or remotely.
Learners have become more discerning than ever and, providing there is a clear learning goal, mobile learning can enable a more interactive, collaborative and engaging learning experience. Also, people like to learn in different ways and on different devices. Learning content that can be delivered on a range of platforms offers organisations and their learners more choice in creating the perfect blend of learning.
RICS Training provides innovative learning solutions designed to meet the challenges and needs of today’s learners and improve performance and engagement. The Online Academy, now entering its fourth year, has delivered more than half a million hours of innovative learning interventions to more than 50,000 users in over 80 countries. RICS Training has been responsive to the proliferation of m-Learning and has enhanced the Online Academy to be mobile capable as of 31st March 2014.
In today’s time-pressured workplace the RICS is helping learners to capitalise more effectively on those all important windows of opportunity for learning and continuous professional development during the busy working day.
Imagine a world where virtually the whole workforce uses smartphones and tablets. Such a world is not too far in the future. While technology continues to evolve to enable a future of mobile learning the most important consideration is ensuring the right content, in the right format is deployed for the right learning need.