While the number of mobile phone users topped 6 billion in 2011, this is expected to reach 8 billion by 2016. The trend line for tablet use is also indicative of rapid growth. Forrester Research projects that almost 760 million tablets will be in use by 2016, and that tablets will overtake notebooks by 2016.
As more users access the Web through these mobile devices, it is apparent that this will heavily influence how professionals and students acquire knowledge. Tablets and smartphones are likely to become important platforms for companies who want to enhance the skill sets of their employees. Tablets, especially, have become the device of choice for eLearning.
Online training programs that can be utilized on the go are likely to become the next evolutionary step in eLearning. Most companies utilize some form of mobile technology to facilitate operations, and this is expected to increase as tablet usage becomes more common. While only one million of the 16.1 million tablets shipped in 2010 were used for enterprise purposes, by 2015, almost 44 million tablets out of a projected 147 million sold will be utilized by commercial organizations.
Professionals who are eager to add new skills and expertise will increasingly turn to eLearning modules through their tablets. The ability to access online instructional materials while waiting for a meeting or having a cup of coffee will be key selling points for the next generation of eLearning courses. The augmented processing power and functionality on tablets will allow students to write notes, research key points further and supplement lessons with online queries and discussions.
There are some very important reasons tablet eLearning is poised to take off.
- Point of need—Learning the basics of a skill or topic can be highly important if you are about to enter a discussion about a subject that you never gained any exposure to before or last covered in college.
- Flexible learning—Mobile learning allows you to enable videos, tutorials and supplemental information according to your needs and the limits of your device.
- Social learning—Mobile devices allow quick immersion into online communities that provide feedback and answers to interrogatives.
- Educational transition—More schools and colleges will migrate from textbooks to tablets, which will become the platform for education for the next generation of students and professionals.
There are some issues that will need to be hammered out before the eLearning community completely adopts mobile technology. HTML5, which is gaining more acceptance for its cross-platform functionality, will have to provide a more dynamic user experience. The costs of HTML5 programming should also decline as more programmers utilize it. Among the leaders in HTML5 use for eLearning course development is Coggno, which offers one of the industry’s largest selections of HTML5 applications.
Mobile technology and, especially, tablets have already begun to reshape the eLearning industry. In the near future, online personal development courses that fail to cater to mobile users will find themselves relegated to the dusty shelves of outdated technology.