How much does Mobile eLearning cost?

mlearningYou’ve heard all the hype. Mobile learning is the next big thing in the LMS/eLearning space.

But you’re skeptical.  You’re the kind of hard-headed “show-me-the-numbers” type that won’t just rush headlong into the newest online training trend.

You want to be prepared first.  You want to know, “what’s it gonna cost me?”

Well, I’ve spent a lot of time in the learning management system space, and I’ll tell you.

The true cost of mLearning

Obviously, costs will differ depending on your organization and needs, but you can still get a good rough estimate by following some key, basic rules.

Because mobile learning is, essentially, publishing your eLearning courses as a mobile app (either web-based or native) costs for mobile learning will largely mirror costs for developing a general mobile app.  That said, here’s the information you should use to estimate them:

  • Research suggests that to develop just one screen of a mobile application takes about one week with a full time employee (FTE).  This includes planning, development, and then testing and final approval.  Thus, for example, an eight page enterprise mobile app would take eight weeks. Multiply this by the hourly salary of your FTE to come up with a basic estimate of costs.  Note that this will not include any one-off costs like developer licenses for app creation tools.
  • Developer licenses will cost you typically around $100 a year, but if you’re using a course authoring tool to develop the content and publish it to mobile this could be closer to $1,000.
  • A study from Deloitte claims that developing for multiple mobile platforms will increase costs as well. For each additional platform/OS (like Blackberry and Android) you develop a mobile app for, costs go up by 60%.
  • If you decide to go with an external app developer, expect to pay anywhere from $8,000 to $50,000 for a native, database app.  This also means you’ll still be responsible for providing all the course content yourself, so be sure to factor that into the costs as well.
  • Try to account for miscellaneous costs.  If you’re converting existing content to a mobile format, that will add to the cost (even just re-doing graphics like banners to fit better on a mobile screen will have a cost).

So, now you know the potential costs of adding some mobile learning courses to your training content.  But don’t let this discourage you.  Despite the numbers, the potential benefit of mobile learning actually is a big one, especially if you’re the kind of organization that has workers or employees out in the field, as it allows “point of need” training resources and allows employees to learn even when they’re stuck at the airport.

Even if your workforce isn’t remote or always away, mobile learning has been shown to increase retention of training material and it combats that dastardly Forgetting Curve because it can be done anytime, anywhere, and often.

What else?

Did I forget any considerations for mobile learning costs?  Other hidden expenses I didn’t mention?

Author

jp-bio picJ.P. currently works as a Content Editor at Capterra, a privately held technology and online media company focused on bringing together buyers and sellers of business software. He is a graduate of Georgetown University where he founded The Georgetown Federalist. Follow him on Twitter at @rizzleJPizzle.
  • http://www.ecampus.com Textbooks

    Initial capital costs are irrelevant if you are truly trying to create a meaningful eLearning product. The biggest question I would consider is “Will they adopt it?” The EdTech space has incredibly low barriers to entry, so there are going to be dozens of similar run-of-the-mill solutions. Adoption on mobile is entirely different than on traditional computers.

    For example, when looking at the textbook industry, you can see that eTextbook adoption has been rather slow or nearly non-existent. Simply porting a print book to digital format doesn’t cut it. In my opinion, gamification is what can make or break a mobile app. People aren’t going to be excited to scroll through a pdf or browse a plain-text website to learn, but with a rewards system, maybe they will be. Look at DuoLingo, for example. A simple concept, relatively easy to develop and it keeps users entertained and coming back.

    tl;dr version
    Spend more time developing quality content that is presented well (gamification, etc.) rather than waste money on a mediocre app.

  • RecoveringAcademic

    What did you forget?…… the cost of moving Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) mind set one step further away from paper-based-resources-recreated-as-exactly-as-possible-on-screen. So, in two words : Information Architecture