Learning on the Go: The Rise of Mobile Learning Across the Globe

February 23, 2016

The global education sector is experiencing a shift in learning models. Fueled by the exploding demand for mobile devices and digital education across the world, mobile learning has become the mainstream and completely changed the way in which traditional educational business models are perceived. With an already well-established foothold in the West and exploding growth figures in emerging markets, the rise of mobile learning is leading to a need for both companies and education institutions alike to integrate its use into their business and learning models, respectively.

In this article, we discuss the current penetration of mobile learning across key markets, the challenges brought to both traditional businesses and the education sector, and also look into its application and prospects for future development.

Worldwide Mobile Learning: Market Outlook

The worldwide market for mobile learning is predicted to grow from US$7.98 billion in 2015 to US$37.6 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate of over 36 percent. Based on research conducted by Ambient Insight, in 2014 the top buying mobile learning countries in terms of expenditure were, in order, the U.S., China, India, Japan, and South Korea.

The U.S. remained the top purchaser of mobile learning technology in 2014, with a stable growth rate of 5.3 percent. China, the second-largest mobile learning buyer in the world, accounted for 26 percent of total mobile learning revenues in Asia. India is also viewed as one of the biggest mobile learning markets in Asia. Currently, the country has about 155 million mobile internet users who on average spend 3 hours and 18 minutes on their smart phones every day. This number is predicted to surge to 480 million by 2017.

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In 2014, Brazil generated the largest revenues for mobile learning in Latin America with a robust growth rate of 25.7 percent. Revenues for mobile learning products and services in Brazil are expected to reach over US$1 billion by 2019, by which time the top-buying country is most likely to be China, followed by the U.S., India, Indonesia, and Brazil.

Though consumers’ buying behavior differs from country to country, language learning apps, early childhood learning apps, and brain trainers are bestsellers in most countries. Language learning is especially dominant in China’s mobile-learning market, where is enjoys an 89.3 percent market share.

Global mobile learning

Mobile Learning Adoption

K12 Education

Implementation of mobile technology in K12 schools and higher education is set for strong growth over the next few years. Over 50 percent of students in high schools now carry smartphones to school with them every day. Surveys show that 70 percent of students are more motivated to learn when using mobile devices. As such, mobile learning technology is widely seen as one of the best ways to increase teacher productivity while enhancing the motivation and performance of students.

Many K12 educators in the U.S. have made mobile learning available in schools by installing wireless access points in classrooms, issuing electronic textbooks, and allowing students to bring their own mobile devices. Educators in emerging economies tend to be more concerned with the stability of the network, IT security issues, technology infrastructure and the training process for teachers. Compared to state schools backed by the government, private for-profit schools are generally far more in favor of adopting mobile learning technology.

Higher Education

Higher education institutions are eager to leverage smartphones and mobile learning technologies to enhance learning efficiency. However, the development of mobile learning in higher education is largely unbalanced. While some universities in the West have started to offer students free mobile devices as an incentive to encourage the use of schools’ mobile apps, the availability and adoption of mobile learning in the universities of developing countries is very limited. Financial constraints and faculty education are viewed as the biggest challenges for institutions to overcome before adopting new technology.

Tablets are the most popular mobile devices for academic purposes, followed by smartphones and e-book readers. Though mobile device usage has been increasing significantly among college students in recent years, a large proportion of students still consider the laptop – which is not classified as a mobile device due to its typical size – to be more important for academic success. Mobile devices are mostly used for self-directed informal learning in colleges rather than in the formal academic context. More surprisingly, recent research conducted among U.S. universities shows a negative relationship between students’ GPA and academic use of their small mobile devices and e-book readers. Students with lower GPAs generally use their mobile devices for academic purposes more frequently compared to those with higher GPAs.

Corporations and Businesses

Mobile learning is a useful tool for businesses trying to improve the efficacy of staff training. Employees are able to access their work materials at any time, meaning that the workplace is no longer limited to an office or physical site. According to a recent survey by Mobile Helix, making required training available on mobile devices for employees will lead to a 40 percent increase in productivity. Mobile learning allows employees to complete personalized training courses at an individual pace, making it an excellent means to train new employees and offer specific courses.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite the convenience and flexibility offered, mobile learning has undoubtedly also created challenges for traditional businesses. Companies face general finance and technology infrastructure challenges when implementing mobile learning, and these are most acutely felt in developing economies. Meanwhile, students tend to get distracted during mobile learning by social networking apps and mobile games, which has become a major concern for educators in both K12 school systems and higher education.

In order to help students concentrate on their studies, schools will have to optimize the instructional models of their mobile learning apps and develop learning programs that fully engage their students. As traditional education and business training methods are reshaped by digitalization, companies will need to restructure their business models, training processes and marketing strategies to ensure they maintain their competitive edge and don’t fall behind. Emerging Strategy is able to guide businesses and education institutions alike through this process. For more information, please contact one of our professionals.

Emerging Strategy is the essential provider of on-request and deep-dive market intelligence services across global B2B markets. For further information about Emerging Strategy and our services, please contact us at info@emerging-strategy.com.



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