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The Rising Popularity of Mobile Learning Southern Europe

By Bob Little / March 2011

TYPE: OPINION
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For many years, the European markets for corporate e-learning have been strongest in the UK, followed by other northern European countries, notably Germany and France. By contrast, corporate e-learning has not made the same mark in southern Europe—mainly Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

Learning Light's findings , about the European corporate e-learning scene, published at the end of last year, confirms this trend. The report estimates the UK e-learning industry's current worth at some £472 million a year, while the market in France is currently worth £375 million and, in Germany, £242 million. Combined they are easily the largest, single, corporate e-learning market in Europe.

Yet it would be wrong to think e-learning in southern Europe is neither sophisticated nor well used. Figures have recently emerged from Italy to battle these misconceptions. One project alone has delivered more than 550,000 courses to some 195,000 users. Moreover, it's estimated that 65,400 people used the system last year.

Since 2002, the Training Innovation Research and (job) Orientation (TRIO) project, a Web-based learning system, has been in use in Italy's Tuscany region. Indeed, TRIO is proving not only popular but useful. According to Gianni Biagi, training and orientation director for the Tuscany region: "We're now involved in similar, on-going projects with other Italian regions—such as the Marche region, which is working on de facto implementation of the platform, and with Emilia Romagna, where there is collaboration based on knowledge sharing. Moreover, we'll soon be announcing the Tuscany region's participation in the Copernicus Project, launched by the Province of Bolzano."

By providing free, on-demand job skills related learning materials, TRIO is empowering Tuscany's people and enterprises. Not only is TRIO helping individuals develop work-related knowledge and skills, but local companies are able to establish and maintain a competitive edge—especially in the light of increasing international competition and the continuing, challenging economic situation. In essence TRIO embodies European policies on lifelong learning: creating knowledge workers, helping companies maintain competitive advantage, and encouraging public sector organizations to operate more efficiently and provide greater value to stakeholders.

"In Tuscany, the use of learning technologies is playing a major role in helping people and organizations to improve their performance standards and more than meet European standards in professional qualifications," commented Fabrizio Cardinali, the chair of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) and CEO of eXact learning solutions, North America, which is one of the Tuscany's technology partners in the TRIO project.

"TRIO meets the growing demand for training, providing opportunities for retraining, knowledge increase or reorientation, to ensure the business skills needed to succeed. In this, it contributes to the creation of an integrated regional system of education, training and work," explained Gianfranco Simoncini, the Tuscany's Minister for Education, Vocational Training and Labour.

Spurred on by increasing competition in international markets, European companies know they need to keep their workforces learning—only by working smarter can they can beat off competition from the world's fast growing economies. Moreover, there are signs that the people of southern Europe are keen to take the lead in embracing the possibilities of personalized, contextualized mobile learning—delivered to a range of devices—rather than use what has become known as "traditional" (albeit Web 2.0) computer delivered e-learning.

In parts of Africa there are similar signs emerging; although these are driven by the accessibility of mobile phones, compared with the often unreliable electricity supplies hampering computer use. It may be cynical to say it, but, in southern Europe, the attraction of mobile devices for learning—over traditional computers—might be the "cool look and feel" attached to learning in this way.

Whatever the reason, e-/mobile learning is on the rise in Italy—along with Spain, Portugal and Greece—and is meeting both individual and corporate needs.

About the Author

For more than 20 years, Bob Little has specialized in writing about, and commentating on, corporate learning—especially e-learning—and technology-related subjects. His work has been published in the U.K., Europe, the U.S., and Australia. Contact Bob at bob.little@boblittlepr.com.



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