Advancements in technology have exponentially changed not only the ways in which we experience the world, but also completely revolutionized – in a relatively short span of time – how we work and learn. Just in the past few years, the expectation of connectivity has become ubiquitous in nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

Considering that corporations are continually striving to do more with less, including providing development opportunities for their employees while meeting business objectives, the role of technology is a key factor. Clearly, mobile learning bridges these objectives by providing additional means of learning possibilities that continue to evolve.

Mobile Learning: Delivering Content in a Connected World, (hereafter, the Study) looks at the current landscape of mobile learning in a world in which the ubiquity of mobile devices seems to have created a perfect environment for delivering learning solutions to our workforce, where or when they need it.  

Key findings from the Study uncover chief barriers to adopting mobile learning include budget, integration with legacy learning systems, and security. Indeed, there are several shared reasons why such a low percentage of companies have moved beyond the pilot stages of mobile learning. The barriers to implementing a mobile strategy are considerable. Waiting for the technologies to advance to the place where they are able to be harnessed for learning needs is just the beginning of the challenges.  


Budget is noted as the chief barrier in this Study. Almost half of the respondents consider budget constraints to be a barrier to a high or very high extent (see Figure 7). On the costing side, variables impacting mobile learning budgets include, but are not limited to: 

  • cost of content development and technologies
  • allocation of budget to existing learning programs
  • expense of transitioning or migrating existing programs to new platforms
  • complexity of integrating new technologies into legacy systems
  • difficulty or failure to measure ROI. 

The degree to which budgets constrain or facilitate specific initiatives generally reflect institutions’ priorities

Integration With Learning Systems

Integration with legacy learning systems and security concerns are not far behind budget constraints on the list of barriers, at 37 and 36 percent respectfully. The inability to link to an existing LMS to track mobile learning often holds organizations back from implementing their strategies, if they have one to begin with.  



While integration with legacy learning systems provides obstacles that inhibit mobile learning initiatives, security is a more complex issue for companies to tackle. Mobile learning presents a variety of security challenges. Some of these challenges are unique to mobile learning, while others reflect the broader security landscape that accompanies our increasingly networked world and should be understood in this broader context. 

Security issues related to mobile learning are therefore components of broader network security policies. The same interactive capabilities that give mobile devices their powerful versatility and connectivity also present considerable security challenges. For mobile learning to be safely and broadly deployed, these challenges need to be comprehensively understood and addressed. 

Lack of Metrics

Less than one-tenth of respondents whose organizations deliver learning content via a mobile device have formal metrics in place to measure the effectiveness of that learning. The implications for not being able to evaluate the effectiveness of learning are far reaching. If organizations are unable to effectively track learning, be it mobile or traditional, learning and development functions will continue to face budget cuts due to the inability to attribute value to learning initiatives. The stakes are high and this is an area that must be addressed.


barriers to mobile learning figures

About the Study

Mobile Learning WhitepaperThe foundation of Mobile Learning: Delivering Content in a Connected World is an analysis of responses to an ASTD/Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) survey of 567 business and learning professionals, 154 of which reported that their organizations are currently using mobile learning in their organizations. The Study also includes insights gathered from interviews conducted with representatives of several organizations in February and March 2012.

The full report Mobile Learning: Delivering Learning in a Connected World. ASTD members can download a free mobile learning whitepaper from the ASTD website.