Less Desktop; More Mobile… but Not That Fast

Mobile Learning - Glacier, Not Waterfall

Think glacier and not waterfall.

Glaciers had a massive impact on our topography – but it took awhile for them to make the impact they eventually did. Mobile learning has supposedly been the next hot trend since about 2009…and we’re still just getting started.

What points to somewhat faster movement in 2013 is that market saturation on the consumer side is pretty complete. Businesses will follow. We see mobile in the news daily, and a search under the Twitter hashtag #mLearning gets you a plethora of commentary, stories, and ideas for using mobile for learning.

After attending mLearn 2011, we shared data that showed the explosion of devices and uptake. In 2012 it accelerated further. A few updated stats shared in a Forbes Tech blog from May 2, 2012:

  • Apple shipped 15 million iPads in Q1 2012. They’ve sold 67 million iPads in just 24 months’ time. (It took 24 years to sell that many Macs and 5 years to sell that many iPods).
  • By 2015, there will be 7.4 billion mobile devices in the market; as of today, the world’s population stands at 7 billion.
  • Also by 2015, mobile app projects will outnumber native PC projects 4:1.

The shift to mobile seems to be happening fastest in K-12 and college classrooms (a bit ironic). But it’s also happening in businesses as IT standards start toppling all over the place to handle trends such as “BYOD” (bring your own device) and the demise of the Blackberry. Businesses can look at what’s going on in schools to see where they need to be going next.

Companies who are using mobile today are focused more on supplying solutions to customers rather than to employees. Fierce BioTech had a blog post in August 2012 featuring 10 smartphone apps developed by several big pharmaceutical companies to support their clients. These apps are true performance support tools for customers. They don’t teach people how to do something; they support them in doing a task.

Also in the “mobile” category of trends is to say “mobile” without clarifying exactly what’s meant
by it. We see our clients using the term “mobile” when they really mean “tablet” sometimes
and “smartphone” other times. One of the first questions we ask related to mobile is, “Are you talking about tablets, phones, or both?” In our opinion, you shouldn’t treat tablets and phones interchangeably. Notice the difference between our Knowledge Guru app for the tablet, and what we offer for the phone:

Knowledge Guru - Tablet and phone interface comparison