Increasingly, our sales team receives inquiries from current and potential customers about the BlueVolt Learning Management System’s (LMS) ability to accommodate offline learning. And with good reason: In today’s mobile-savvy society, more than 58 percent of American adults have a smartphone and more than 42 percent own a tablet. What does this mean to the world of eLearning? It means more and more, people access their company’s learning management system outside of a traditional office.
Offline learning is a term often used interchangeably with mobile learning, but the two are not the same. Mobile learning is any content consumed on a mobile device; whereas offline learning is content for environments using a mobile device in an area with limited or no Internet connectivity. With offline learning, the LMS has an offline player that allows users to download content to their device, complete coursework offline and then upload and sync the results with the platform when an Internet connection is established.
While it’s hard to imagine being somewhere the Internet is not available, this is a consideration for a number of companies, and an increasingly crucial factor for selecting the right LMS. In fact, it is such a hot topic that it is ranked as one of the Top Trends in Mobile Learning for 2014.
Who might benefit from offline learning?
- Companies whose sales teams cover geographical territories with sales people serving regions with spotty Internet coverage.
- Hospital facilities could benefit from an offline player as well, given Internet “dead zones” near radiology, x-ray or mammography equipment.
- So might manufacturers who work on the floor of a plant, where machinery and other factors interfere with Internet connectivity.
- Organizations whose employees travel by plane could also benefit. For learners who spend much of their time traveling, in-air flight time could be allocated to completing coursework or learning new product knowledge.
Before determining if an offline player is a requirement for your business to successfully launch an LMS, consider the pros and cons of offline learning.
An offline player allows learners to take their training on the road, on the plane or on vacation, uninhibited by limited Internet accessibility. For learners who access an offline player on a device supported by a data plan, offline usage does not factor into their monthly data usage. It also allows the learner to sync completed coursework to the LMS once Internet connectivity is possible, allowing the LMS administrator to monitor and track course completion.
On the other hand, downloading the coursework does require an Internet connection, which may be a challenge for some learners. In addition, content must be optimized for mobile compatibility.
In the ever-changing world of eLearning, companies whose business relies on a channel sales team or field representatives may find themselves increasingly analyzing their offline learning needs.
What do you think of an offline player? Is it an important component in selecting the right learning platform for your business? Please tell us why or why not.
Photo credit: James Whatley on Flickr