Talking to customers recently, I have observed an emerging trend where tablets are being seen as a dedicated device for learning. In addition to the rapid adoption of tablets and availability of high speed bandwidth, using tablets as dedicated learning devices has emerged because the more traditional route of using desktops (or laptops) has proved too cumbersome, expensive or simply not viable.
So what do I mean by dedicated learning device? A dedicated learning device is a device that is primary but not exclusively used for learning or associated activities. Let us take the example of a chain of retail clothing stores. Each retail store has 1 – 3 employees and will have a Point of Sale (POS) equipment which may be a PC connected to the internet. Head office rolls out a compliance learning module but employees find it challenging to undertake it on the PC as it is used for sales and stock taking. Not to mention the employees also have to stand behind the PC where they have to greet customers. Another example is a company that provides cleaning services where employees rarely come to into the offices and are usually out and about.
In both cases opportunities for accessing PCs for online learning is limited and inconvenient. Even if more PCs were installed, the costs of buying and maintaining PCs would be very high. Gartner has estimated Total Cost of Ownership for PCs is around $5000 per year with support and maintenance costing $3000.
In these cases, tablets provide a solution where they can be made available at the retail store. An employee can complete the online compliance course either in the store or elsewhere and then pass it on to the next employee. In the case of the cleaning services company, an employee can complete the course on the tablet either in the office or take it along with him while travelling and thus use his 'downtime' effectively.
Let us examine some the factors which now make tablets a suitable dedicated learning device.
Convenient form factor - The size and portability make tablets 'a take any where' device. Furthermore, they are sturdy enough (especially when kept in a protective case) to be used when at worksite or in the office. Using touch screen (instead of a mouse) is intuitive and convenient (just ask my 1 year old nephew who is addicted to Ipads).
Availability of wireless and broadband - Wireless (increasingly free) and high speed broadband is becoming widely available in many countries. The average South Korean had a connection of 100Mbps and majority of Australians will have 1Gbps connectivity by the end of the National Broadband Network (NBN) implementation.
Apps install and update is easy - Tablets operating systems and apps can be updated by the user by the press of a button reducing the need to get IT involved.
What if there is no Wi-Fi or internet available you ask? You can get away with minimal connectivity to load or update courses. Some LMS including Upside2Go allow you download content for offline use.
I have seen increased usage of tablets for learning in:
- Supplementing and extending classroom training (Read example) - http://www.upsidelearning.com/au/pressrelease/2014/academyglobal-uses-smartphones-for-management-training.asp
- Training in remote locations
- Training for dispersed workforce
- Quick turnaround
Of course there are challenges such as tablets getting lost or stolen (same applies to laptops) and subject to misuse (can be locked down) but tablets give you ease of access to learning which other traditional methods can't simply because it is not possible, too costly or involve too much bureaucracy.
So join me in uncovering ‘what’ exactly eLearning on Tablets is, ‘why’ organizations should be considering it and ‘how’ to implement it in the workplace, on 23rd January at 1:00 PM (AEDT.)
To register, visit https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/200928575