According to new ASTD-i4cp research, 65 percent of employers are either using, considering, or currently developing learning for mobile devices.

As a concept, mobile learning has been around for several years; some companies began delivering information in text format to employees on mobile devices nearly a decade ago. Today, the confluence of factors including device technology, operating systems, content platforms, GPS, and Web access has re-engaged the minds of the learning community. Morning subway commutes can become miniclassrooms, and the time spent waiting for appointments can be become instant learning sessions.

The recent ASTD and i4cp study, Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, investigates the current overall state of mobile learning. The foundation of the report is based on analysis of responses from 1,357 business and learning professionals, as well as interviews with practitioners and thought leaders who are early proponents and adopters of mobile learning. The survey was fielded in late 2010, and interviews were conducted in early 2011.

According to the survey, 15 percent of those surveyed are currently using some form of mobile learning; however, 50 percent are either considering it (40 percent) or currently developing it (10 percent). Slightly less than 35 percent say they have no plans to use mobile learning.

Professional learning developers understand that design is the biggest differentiator between mobile learning success and failure. More importantly, they understand that mobile learning is a strategic key to connecting multiple learning modalities: It is the link between learning and performance support and the tie between formal and informal learning.

Mobile learning is not without its issues, most of which boil down to very tactical, practical application and the ever-present challenge of garnering the support of senior leaders.

Do content owners now need to develop a mobile application for every piece of content they create? If so, do there need to be versions that can run on iPhone, Android devices, BlackBerry, and Windows phones? What about tablets? Are there authoring or content creation tools that make this easy? And do we manage all of this through our existing learning management systems?

As part of a study, it was discovered that these tactical issues have delayed mobile learning from truly taking off. But the lack of support of senior leaders and the lack of available budget are two of the most often-cited obstacles to mobile learning implementation according to study participants.

This is unfortunate because the study also highlights a very important correlation: High-performing companies are much more likely to have adopted mobile learning than low-performing companies. This correlation is something of which all learning professionals should take note, particularly if interested in improving organizational performance.

The study represents a synthesis of interviews with thought leaders in the field of mobile learning and further examines mobile learning issues such as native applications versus the mobile web, mobile learning versus the classroom, mobile learning versus performance support, and mobile learning versus virtual learning.