I continue to be surprised by some of the data that's building around my research in to the effectiveness of Social Computing for Workplace Learning (a.k.a. Learning 2.0 in the Enterprise). The number of respondents to my questionnaire has now reached a level where it becomes difficult to argue with the wealth of facts that I'm seeing.

One particular surprise is the extent to which mobile computing platforms are used for Learning 2.0 in the Enterprise. With all this talk on the web about 'Bring your own device', and the challenges of securing corporate information on personal mobile devices, one would imagine that mobile computing was a significant method of accessing corporate learning. Not so says the data.

So far my research shows that 29% of respondents use a Smartphone to reach social computing for workplace learning, and 18% use a tablet device. So far, so good, but 92% of the same audience also use a laptop. So we can see that a mix of devices are used, with laptops being by far the most prevelant means of accessing learning 2.0. Interesting to note that the number of respondents using their mobile phone to access learning 2.0 is only two percent more than those who use a desktop computer (27%).

However, the picture becomes clearer when the same respondents are asked to identify which device they use the most frequently to access Learning 2.0. The laptop still comes out top at 80%, but the desktop follows in a distant second place at 12%. Only 3% of respondents use their mobile phone as their preferred means of accessing learning 2.0, and the same percentage use a tablet device as their platform of choice. 

A quirky 2% claim to use 'other' devices, but reading their feedback its clear that 2% of the respondents can't differentiate between 'device' and 'software' - and most of their responses indicate that they are also using a laptop or desktop PC to access Learning 2.0.

The only device that never gets used as the social computing platform of choice is an Internet connected TV. I have some sympathy with that; my own experience of Internet connected TVs is that domestic television and peripheral device manufactuters don't do User Interface design (did anyone ever learn how to fully program their VCR?). Perhaps if Apple get in to the TV business they will transform that market as well...


My research in to the effectiveness of social computing for workplace learning (a.k.a. Learning 2.0 in the Enterprise) continues until 20th July. I will continue to share highlights of the research here on TrainingZone, and the full report will be available to all who participate (and leave an email address).

If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a £50 (UKP) Amazon or iTunes voucher, I would appreciate your help in completing this 10 minute questionnaire www.surveymonkey.com/s/3HD7JQW

Every participant who leaves an email address will receive a 'thank you' in the form of a $10 (USD) store credit to spend with National Geographic's partner www.novica.com - a great way to support artisans in developing nations.

Participation is anonymous (unless you wish to leave your email address), and all my findings, conclusions and recommendations will be published in October, and sent to those who wish to receive a copy. 

I will also be presenting the findings at various online and face-to-face events in Q4 2012.

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  • Hi Paul

    Love it! Maybe a second iPad - but she will doubtless require the updated model......!

  • Paul.

    I am interested in, but not surprised by your findings.

    I would suggest that first, they are contextual - relating strongly to the ability to access a laptop or a desktop, and further whether this is connected to some decent broadband, and further still, who is paying for the access. As an example of what I am suggesting, you would find very different statistics if the survey were conducted in eg South Africa, an emerging economy, but one in which only a very small proportion of the population have access to a laptop or a desktop, especially away from the workplace. There you would find a huge emphasis on learning gathered through a "phone" which might be smart or not.

    The second point I would make is that learning as a lifelong theme of life, where the individual is responsible for developing and fulfilling their own potential, has not yet reached the tipping point where the majority see the need for use of their discretionary time for that purpose.  Therefore they will use the employer's equipment, access and time for an activity that they equate with being work-related. In situations where learning has to happen away from the "desk", and away from the employer's internet access eg mobile workers who need just in time learning at a location of need there may very well be a different answer.

    The third point is convenience - and the accessibility of a screen that is easy to read - the growth of tablets as a device illustrates exactly this. However I return to my first point - if one does not have access to anything other than a "phone" and one has a thirst to learn - then that will become a very well used device indeed. Additionally the "phone" is an "on the move" device - the unreliability of internet connection while travelling is a major deterrent to trying to work interactively.

    The final point I would make is that usage may not indicate "preference" as implied in your post. Low usage may only reflect that there are other factors influencing choice of device for accessing learning.

    • Nic,

      All good points, and they may well be true.

      There are some other factors in the demographics of the research data (that I have not disclosed yet) indicating that the crushing majority of respondents are working in knowledge economy organisations, almost all being private sector large enterprise, and in westernised countries where English is the first language. Together those factors indicate that the respondents are very likely to have access to high speed networks, a mobile phone funded by their employer and work in job roles where knowledge acquisition, creation and sharing are core to business success.

      I've deliberately not chosen to split my research by geographic, cultural or linguistic factors - partly because I need to keep the scope of my MSc dissertation to something I can manage part-time, but also because I have no reliable way of reaching out to communities who perhaps less well connected or disposed to technology enabled social learning - those are areas of research beyond the scope of my dissertation, albeit identified, and I have proposed a number of future research questions that delve in to issues such as 'What barriers exist to adoption of social computing in different organisational cultures'

    • Hi Paul

      I guessed as much!

      Your first paragraph exemplifies well my interpretation of the data as presented in your post.

      My second point will be true almost regardless of context, the headline sentence of my third point equally so.

      I will look forward to the complete dissertation with interest - there is very little yet available and your findings will provide significant indicators as to what is actually happening. Thanks for sharing it.

      I would encourage you to include in your suggestions for the future a look at national environments where there is a thirst for learning, a high awareness and utilisation of the social media, and an awareness of the potential of the media for learning exist, but where the broadband speeds, access to the technology (large screens, reliable connectivity, affordable data etc), even the existence of significant employing organisations are of a very different order to our experience in the so-called knowledge economies - although I suspect that term is also misleading in respect of the true picture in many emerging situations

    • Nic,

      Thanks, in the fullness of time I will be disclosing all the research data, but my employer (IBM) is part funding my research, so they are going to get first viewing of the data before I publish it in the public domain.

      I take well you point about 'preference', what I mean by that is the device that learners are preferring most within the confines of what is most practical and available to them, rather than which device they might prefer to use.

      My 2.5 year old daughter might prefer to use Daddy's iPad 2 over the BBC Micro in his home office, but the technology enabled learning preferences she makes are limited somewhat by Daddy's monopolisation of the iPad 2 since Tap The Frog HD was released for iOS 5.

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