Letter from UK

'Little's Britain': Mobile revelations

London (UK), January 2009 - (by Bob Little) Kris Swanson, of Merrill Lynch, has revealed that the company has some 60,000 employees and, of these, some 21,000 have BlackBerry mobile devices. Of these, some 6,000 have been given access to mobile learning materials and, to date, there are some 2,000 regular users of this mobile learning material. That means that some 9.5 per cent of those with access to the delivery technology for mobile learning are using it.

Swanson, speaking at the November meeting of the eLearning Network, in London, also revealed that a pilot study to measure the return on investment (ROI) in mobile learning showed that making learning materials available via BlackBerries resulted in a 75 per cent reduction in learning development costs; a 30 per cent fall in users' 'time to competence', a 45 per cent reduction in the time taken on 'training' and a one per cent improvement in users' assessment scores compared with those who studied the learning materials at their desks.

"However," Swanson said, "I stacked the cards in my favour because I only included investment bankers in the pilot study and the mobile learning materials only covered compliance training."

Despite the possibility that these ROI figures may have been slightly 'massaged', they still make a strong case for using mobile learning.

However, it is interesting that slightly less than ten per cent of those given the option of engaging in mobile learning, take it up. This is not out of keeping with preliminary results that are emerging from the study of the UK's 'eLearning scene' by Towards Maturity. Laura Overton's company has been running a Benchmark Review of the industry, looking at how learning technologies are changing the way that we deliver learning and development in the workplace. The Review concluded at the end of November and the results are scheduled to be revealed at the UK's key eLearning show: Learning Technologies show, which is being held at Olympia, in London, on 28th and 29th January.

For over 20 years, Bob Little has specialised in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning - especially elearning - and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the UK, Continental Europe, the USA and Australia.
You can contact Bob.