There is considerable momentum building at the moment around the use of apps running on mobile devices (phones + tablets) for serious business uses such as elearning.
We will consider some of the reasons why apps are so interesting to the training industry.
1. A Cultural shift within Business
Not so long ago business and personal use of devices was deemed to be necessarily differentiated, and vendors would sell different devices and software (or apps) for these uses.
Gaming was something only for the personal sphere, as was the early internet with its patchy service and poor quality websites.
More socially enabled environments for learning are now seen as acceptable in modern business practices.
The uptake for mobile devices is very high worldwide, and this makes services and content theoretically available to people any time and any place.
This is a game changer for many services, although for e-learning the situation is less clear with the trade off for the quality of e-learning environment against this super easy availability.
3. Exposure, Familiarity & Youth Angle
Apps are common currency to many people especially the young.
So if they are so common-place this will tend to make them generally more appealing.
You can also see an element of future proofing with apps or their descendants as young people enter into the workplace completely at ease with these new modes of consuming services on their devices.
4. BYOD – Bring Your Own Device
As a business, you can rely more on outside infrastructure, and other people’s hardware (tablets, laptops, mobile phones), to deliver services such as e-learning.
Apart from these obvious cost benefits, there can be productivity benefits for people using environments they are entirely familiar with to do training, a significant benefit especially to new employees. In fact research has shown people see firms with BYOD policies in a favourable light when it comes to recruitment.
On the down side, this can be seen as a security headache – people could be bringing viruses and malware onto the corporate intranet.
With the above 4 points in mind, apps are seen as a cheap option – and the huge proliferation of tools, gimmicks and games that are available, often for free, implies that development costs are going to be cheap.
There is some truth in this. The downside is that you are likely to have to develop for 2 or 3 platforms at least, the main ones being
- All of these are completely different.
6. Gaming or ‘Edutainment’
Gaming can be a controversial topic in business because management can be naturally worried about getting the correct messages across (such as diligence and professionalism), and gaming can directly challenge these.
As with point (1) there have been shifts away from strict business practices in most sectors, and gaming in training fits in with this.
It’s always been around in hands-on team building exercises so why not in the office or the corporate intranet?
Mobile, App and Gaming Trends
In summary, it will be interesting to see how these trends progress over the next 5 years. There is some evidence that mobile use for real world services is maturing, although the case for e-learning is not clear, especially for apps where they need authoring on several platforms. The cost benefits apart from this are, however, a large incentive.
For further reading try these links:
Some trend predictions:
Mobile learning in developing countries:
What people are playing with: