How is the mobile e-learning market evolving?
The mobile e-learning market has advanced significantly in recent years as the increasing popularity of tablets and mobile phones have caused companies to adopt more flexible ways of working.
Smartphones are now highly versatile devices that offer a number of benefits to employees, enabling them to watch video, read articles and interact with friends and family without any issues.
The devices are even increasing in size, allowing users to watch high-quality media and get more out of their mobile handsets. The popularity of these devices combined with increased training budgets have altered how businesses approach educating their workforce.
Research from TrainingMag.com found that the average training budget for large businesses was $17.4 million, whereas midsize businesses allocated $1.5 million on average. On the other hand, small companies dedicated an average of $338,709.
Some 43 percent of respondents said that their training budget increased this year, while 16 percent said theirs fell and 41 percent said spending remained the same. It is clear that training is an area where companies feel they need to invest significant amount of money.
Where does mobile learning fit in?
Mobile learning is still a relatively new platform for the B2B sector, though it is increasing in popularity and importance. Most employees now use smartphones as part of their everyday life, and this is starting to be reflected in the industry.
A study from MarketsandMarkets found that the industry is expected to grow from $7.98 billion this year to $37.60 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of 36.3 percent.
However, the group admitted that there are issues with the industry as it goes through some growing pains.
“The factors driving this market are growing mobile and smartphone penetration across the globe along with the rise in demand for advanced and digital education. However, increasing cost associated with equipment, connectivity and maintenance for mobile learning solutions, is the major restraint for the growth of this market.
“A large number of educational institutions and organizations lack the necessary funding to implement such solutions. Also there still exists a lack of digital clarity among end users thus further restraining the market growth,” MarketsandMarkets wrote in a press release.
What are the m-learning challenges for an international company?
International companies can gain significant benefits from m-learning. After all, one of the top advantages of the technology is that it can be accessed whenever and wherever there is an internet connection.
However, the technology is relatively new and there are still growing pains, as John Connell, education and technology consultant at I Am Learner, explains: “M-Learning is about to go mainstream, but in ways that the providers of mobile education will find very hard to predict”.
Unpredictability is a common theme for many technologies. In a few years time, we could be talking about smartwatches being a key part of e-learning – we simply do not know.
Tackling translation and tone of voice
Unarguably, the biggest issue for companies looking at international m-learning is translation. Automated, computer-generated translation can lead to big errors that could easily lead to misunderstandings among staff.
The Handbook of Research on e-learning Standards and Interoperability by Fotis Lazarinis looks at the different factors that need to be kept in mind, including cultural values, currency and national regulations.
“A successfully localised e-learning service or product is one that seems to be developed within the local culture,” Mr Lazarinis explained.
Tone of voice is a key issue for all companies looking at m-learning in particular. Charles Coy from Cornerstone Demand has recommended a laid-back approach for the platform, noting: “In a broad sense, people feel that the mobile device, even when it’s been issued by your company, is personal space. We need to shift from a didactic, prescriptive tone of voice to a more coaching, enabling, buddy style.”
It is an interesting piece of advice, especially for top-level businesses, but it’s easy to see why an informal approach would be conducive to greater effectiveness. Could this change in the future as more companies adopt m-learning?
The fact is, no one knows, but the sector is in a fascinating position and could become one of the most intriguing industries for learning and development in international businesses.