E-learning software developer Icus has trialled what it claims, is the first WAP-enabled training course.
According to Icus the e-learning market is set to take off in the next 12-18 months as online distance learning booms. The company claims the amount spent on corporate training budgets is set to increase from 24 per cent to 36 per cent by 2003. In Asia alone, Icus claims e-learning will triple to US$700 million between now and 2003.
Dr Elizabeth Hawthorne, academic director of Icus, claims the WAP trial was used to explore different models for online training. The course itself was part of a larger finance course for non-financially literate managers and involved face-to-face, Internet, email and WAP-enabled learning.
Hawthorne, a former associate dean of Penn State University, claims the phones were used to access synopsis' of information, conduct short quizzes and listen to lectures while the students were in transit or during some other period of inactivity.
The WAP phones were only used for 30 per cent of the course and while Hawthorne admits people were skeptical of its value at first, the students claimed the ability to access course material and reinforce existing information was quite positive.
In Australia Icus has partnered with corporate training company Tactics to deliver a range of its e-learning software and services. Belinda Tripp, Tactics managing director, claims the number of companies that have to skill-up diverse workforces is driving the market towards Internet-based learning.
However, she points out that unlike traditional computer-based learning, Tactics and Icus deliver a bundled training approach using a combination of face-to-face, online and other technologies such as WAP.
Tripp claims the biggest challenge in the market currently is convincing customers that not all companies are offering e-learning. "Most of these [companies] are just offering a content dump, which the user has to spend hours upon hours reading," says Tripp. "This doesn't motivate people to use it."