2011: The Year of the Media Tablet as a Learning Tool: In an Age of Seemingly Endless Mobile Technology Innovations, It's No Surprise That Media Tablets Are the Next Big On-Demand Learning Craze

Article excerpt

There's no denying the imminent explosion of tablet computing as a learning tool. Reports from the 2011 Computer Electronics Show counted 85 iPad challengers, in addition to all of the iPad accessories being touted, including iPad holders, iPad keyboards, and even iPad alarm clocks.

Organizations of all stripes are taking major steps toward the brave new world of integrating media tablets into the workplace. According to Gartner, worldwide sales of tablets will jump from 19.5 million units in 2010 to 208 million units in 2014, while Forrester foresees similar growth and expects the United States' market share of media tablets to reach that of laptops by 2015 in terms of sales. The expanding tablet market is likely to cannibalize the market share of netbooks, media players, and stand-alone e-book readers.

Mobile learning research

In light of all this growth, Future Workplace and IESE Business School conducted an online survey among leading corporate learning organizations, called M-Learning: From Anticipation to Reality, to understand trends in mobile learning--learning that happens across locations or that takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by such devices as netbooks or notebooks, smartphones, and media tablets. More than 100 learning executives from professional services industries, high-tech firms, financial services, education groups, and government agencies shared their vision and deployment strategies of corporate learning on mobile devices.

According to the m-learning survey, nearly 40 percent of executives plan to incorporate media tablets into learning and development initiatives in 2011, and three-quarters of these learning executives plan to incorporate smartphones by the end of this year. Such devices are being used for ongoing learning and performance support in the areas of product updates and overall access of knowledge and tools needed to do one's job.

While use of these devices to deliver such information is expected to continue into 2015, learning executives claim that by 2015 they plan to leverage mobile devices not only for learning and performance support, but also for coaching and mentoring employees (37 percent), microblogging (27 percent), augmented reality (14 percent), and mobile gaming (12 percent). Learning executives report that the benefits to incorporating mobile devices into their learning strategies include seamlessly integrating learning into work, providing employees with 24/7 access to knowledge and information, increasing employee productivity, and building the company's corporate brand with Millennials who have grown up using mobile devices in their personal lives.

Media tablets in the workplace

Flexibility and accessibility are at the heart of why the iPad is catching on in corporations. Hilton Worldwide and SAP are two examples of companies using media tablets for learning, communications, and knowledge production.

Hilton is distributing 1,000 iPads to senior executives, who use the media tablet as a business and learning tool when sharing information and best practices. Hilton executives spend an average of up to 80 percent of their time on the road, making classroom learning impossible in many cases.

Universities and school districts across the country have either begun programs or applied for grants to furnish iPads to select student and teacher populations.

"People need to have learning of all types--instructor-led training, webinars, articles, stretch assignments, blogs, videos, wikis, and apps--available to them," says Dottie Brienza, senior vice president and global head of talent management at Hilton. "The iPad is a way to integrate learning into what people do every day."

At Hilton, the iPads come preloaded with customized apps and videos specific to Hilton executives and the company brand. The next iteration of the program will include iPads with a redesigned personalized user interface, akin to a MyYahoo! …