#FOW Ready Mobile Learners

Remote Work, Hybrid Transitions, and Future Commuters? The Future of Work is a hot topic right now. During the pandemic people left cities where their jobs were, thinking they might be able to redefine their own future of work and be able to work from home forever. But an increasing number of employers want them back (physically) in one form or another: full time, part time, flex time, etc… (1). Longer commutes and redefined work hours/days are ripe with opportunity for mobile learning to scale.

Currently, 91% of internet users use mobile devices to go online at least some of the time (2). Mobile phones are widely considered the entry point into the digital economy, and “one of the most far-reaching technologies in history.” (3,4) 

In a mobile learning (mLearning) research study (5) I conducted in 2012 we were creating mLearning experiences that would meet the needs of traditionally inaccessible groups. Our example was: 

In a Tanzanian village of several thousand people lives Matthew. Africa’s electrical grid has not found its way down the unpaved roads to Matthew’s home. To access 21st-century, modern conveniences, Matthew has found creatively approached his environment with ideas of solutions, rather than thoughts of barriers. Matthew’s refrigerator runs on a kerosene engine, he collects rainwater for drinking, and he uses solar panels for some electricity. Despite these setbacks and limitations, Matthew has mobile coverage at his home. He believes training has the potential to positively impact his work in Tanzania, but time, travel, and cost will have detrimental consequences for Matthew’s work if he were to leave. 

As an instructional designer on the project I sought to transform course content, for people like Matthew, into a mobile platform allowing access to meaningful content, virtually anytime, anywhere… that was 10 years ago. The cost and computing power of smartphones has changed the landscape even more, making more powerful devices more accessible (but the accessibility gap has not closed). 

In 2022, the number of smartphone users in the world is 6.6 billion, meaning 84% of the world’s population owns a smartphone. And that is just the users, it is believed that there are over 10.4 billion mobile connections worldwide, surpassing the current world population of 7.9 billion. This data means there are 2.5 billion more mobile connections than people worldwide. To be fair, not every person in the world has a mobile device, some mobile connections come from people with multiple devices, and a fraction with dual SIM’s or other integrated devices like cars (6). As the number of devices grows, so does our dependence on them to fulfill daily functions and activities (7). In 2019, 2 billion smartphone users exclusively accessed the internet through their smartphone (8).

On a global level, access to mobile phones is identified as a tool to bridge the learning access gap (9,10). The experience of the on-the-go, mobile learner is increasingly recognized as important for learning traditional content, compliance training, and upskilling. Multiple elearning platforms have mobile-enabled access of content (11) while other are built for mobile first like Learner Mobile (12) which powers the architecture for K12 learning platforms like ChangeMakerEdu and corporate learning experiences like RL1 Courses.

The future is bright for mobile learning, the opportunities to grow limitless.


  1. (2021, December 22). Pandemic Remote Work Spawns a New Class of Office Super …. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-12-22/pandemic-remote-work-spawns-a-new-class-of-office-super-commuters
  2. Digital Around the World — DataReportal – Global Digital Insights. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://datareportal.com/global-digital-overview
  3. New Technologies and the Global Goals – the United Nations. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/un-chronicle/new-technologies-and-global-goals
  4. Gender Gap – Mobile for Development – GSMA. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.gsma.com/r/gender-gap/
  5. mLearning in the organizational innovation process – SURFACE at …. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://surface.syr.edu/etd/452/
  6. How Many People Have Smartphones Worldwide (Jan 2022). Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/how-many-phones-are-in-the-world
  7. (2021, September 24). • Number of mobile devices worldwide 2020-2025 | Statista. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/245501/multiple-mobile-device-ownership-worldwide/
  8.  (2019, January 24). Smartphones: 72% of people will use only mobile for internet by 2025. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/smartphones-72percent-of-people-will-use-only-mobile-for-internet-by-2025.html
  9.  (2021, October 26). Innovating to Keep Kids Learning During the Pandemic in Sri Lanka. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/innovating-keep-kids-learning-during-pandemic-sri-lanka/39100
  10.  (2021, December 13). 5 Ways to Give to Children in Need This Season With UNICEF. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.unicefusa.org/stories/5-ways-give-children-need-season-unicef/35240
  11. (2021, July 27). 10 Free Elearning Mobile Apps | EdApp Microlearning. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.edapp.com/blog/10-elearning-mobile-apps/
  12. Learner Mobile: Home. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.learnermobile.com/

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