The other day, I was listening to the classic 80’s tune, I Melt With You.  While you can argue that the music video is lame, the song itself stays true and lasting.

What you may ask does this have to do with mobile learning?  Well, for one thing, some of the lyrics can easily be incorporated to reflect m-learning. 

“I’ll stop the world and melt with you
You’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time
There’s nothing you and I won’t do”

When mobile learning took off in 2011 it was due to tablets.

Not smartphones, not even close (despite the best efforts of many vendors then and even now). 

The difference was right in front of all our eyes and knowing that learners could take courses via tablets, utilize responsive and the possibilities and potential was right there.  Right there.

We all saw the difference and m-learning was getting better, each year. 

We (well us m-learning fans), understood that there wasn’t anything we wouldn’t try or do to attract learners to m-learning, knowing full well that the consumer market – due to the iPad and Galaxy success was exploding – in a good way.

“Dream of better lives the kind which never hates
Trapped in the state of imaginary grace….”

The dream was there, and despite the naysayers who didn’t realize that on the go learning was not imaginary, but real.  

“The future’s open wide..”  Yes, it was wide open.. but then something happened.

Something that has far reaching implications, that has placed m-learning on the precipice, with a real question mark of where to go from here.

The facts say it all

  • Less than 2.5% of the entire industry have native apps for iOS and Android
  • There are plenty of vendors who do NOT support the latest versions of iOS and Android – and on a side note, I found two vendors who told me that they didn’t support the latest versions – and it was only after I asked them. 
  • Less than 1% offer online/offline synchronization
  • The majority of LMS vendors see the native app as nothing more than using your mobile web browser to go to the LMS –  in other words, you have to internet connectivity – despite the fact that in the tablet space, more people purchase them with Wi-Fi.

Oh and those data plans are expensive. Clearly someone forgot to tell these vendors, that video chows up a lot of data.

  • Microsoft announced months ago, that they were going to target the Enterprise market for their smartphones.  I can count on two hands, the number of vendors who have a native app for the latest version of Windows OS.  Wait, one hand.

Examining the mobile market today in terms of global sales, some interesting tidbits..

  • Tablet sales have dropped in the last two quarters
  • Smartphones may have hit the saturation level
  • Phablets are taking off (larger screen size than a smartphone)
  • Ultraportables are projected to be the next big thing in terms of sales  (An ultraportable is a tablet/laptop; with Microsoft Surface being the most well known.  I use the Lenovo Yoga – which rocks)
  • T-Mobile users have streamed (video and audio) over 57GB in four months, AT&T and Verizon have jumped in to offer video streaming to their user base – oh and with T-Mobile they are achieving this without impacting end user’s data plans. 
  • Snapchat is the third most popular app for the iPhone in the United States,
  • In the social networking scene for mobile apps – WhatsApp is #3 in the U.S., #2 in the U.K., #1 in Germany, #3 in Australia;  oh and I should note that it has over 1 billion users – that is correct, one billion users
  • BTW, WhatsApp is going to be adding group chat very soon
  • Other apps similar to WhatsApp, Kik, imo, Tango, Line are all in the top 20 for iPhone usage (U.S., U.K. (includes ooVoo), four apps similar to WhatsApp are in the top 20 in Russia) – I think you get my point
  • Encryption is the latest trend with mobile apps such as those noted above – messages between end users who use the app is just one example

I constantly hear how millennials are coming into companies and changes have to be made, yet when you look at mobile learning, nearly nothing is being done to engage them – like those social networking apps do.

WhatsApp and their similar brethren allow folks who have the app to make free calls, send free text messages, add images, video, audio, etc and share it between users (they have to use the app) along with other feature sets.

Where are these capabilities with m-learning? 

Millennials and many adults I know prefer, send and receive text messages, rather than using e-mail.  Why then are LMS vendors so hesitant to add SMS notifications with their solution?

I repeatedly hear the new buzz word, “mobile first”, yet there is nothing that imparts that as being accurate.

You want “mobile first”, then incorporate some of the features that are offered and available in apps similar to WhatsApp. 

You pitch “mobile first” then add SMS notifications. 

You show potential clients and current customers your amazing social;  well let’s tie in social capabilities with your native apps – capabilities that are being used today by millennials.

You constantly showcase smartphones; but I have yet to see ultraportables as examples, let alone Phablets.

And yes, not just millennials but also lots of folks of all ages are buying Phablets.  Where is that in your pitch?

You reply to potentials that your LMS is strong on security. 

Why then do you rarely state the same case with your mobile apps (there are a few vendors who do)?  If I’m going to send messages or videos or whatever in mobile apps, where is my encryption?

Why are vendors so far behind the consumer marketplace? 

Why are they missing the bigger picture?  Why are they failing to grasp mobile apps for m-learning, but have no issue using apps with their own mobile devices?

Why the disconnect?

I’ll tell you why – because they just don’t get it (there are exceptions). 

They are doing what they did and currently do with social, follow the pattern of “same ol same” and think that learners are going to find this the “be all”. 

You want engagement? Then push the envelope with your mobile device. 

Yes, there are vendors moving towards universal apps (working with any mobile OS) – and I’m happy for them – but come on, that is just a minuscule first step.

And it shouldn’t be that way. 

Bottom Line

After all, “I’ll stop the world and melt with you (Let’s stop the world)”

Shouldn’t just be lyrics in a song, it should be a shout out to every vendor in the LMS space, that stopping the world doesn’t mean doing nothing,

It means changing.

With mobile learning front and center.

And not melting away.

E-Learning 24/7