How Solar-Powered Tablets Can Push Mobile Learning Into New Horizons (2018 Update)

Solar-Powered Tablets To Push mLearning Into New Horizons
Anton Gvozdikov/
Summary: We’re all moving towards renewable energy and sustainable learning tools. But does the type of device you use influence the quality of your mobile learning? In this article, I explore how solar-powered tablets will push mobile learning to new horizons.

5 Ways That Solar-Powered Tablets Push Mobile Learning Into New Horizons

One of the main contentions in online training is the internet. You’ll hear lots of arguments about whether an online training course should be fully connected. After all, many employees have limited broadband and expensive bandwidth. Therefore, eLearning developers shouldn’t assume everyone has fast enough internet to stream high-def online course material. But in the discussion about field workers, remote locations, or online learners in transit, we focus on web connectivity. There are other concerns, though. Like access to electricity, compatibility of phone operating systems, or affordability of smartphones. Solar-powered tablets can resolve all these issues, and a host of others as well. Let’s explore 5 ways this cutting-edge ‘green’ technology will push the mobile learning envelope in years to come.

1. Accessibility

It may come as a surprise that not everyone owns a smartphone. Certain employees are restricted by cost or practicality. In many parts of the world, a feature phone works just fine. Many newer ones even have built-in social media platforms. For others, a smartphone, and its hungry battery, just isn’t a viable option. In such cases, a tablet works better. Its battery lasts longer, and it can be charged using solar cells, even on cloudy days. Because it has a bigger screen than the average mobile phone, it’s easier to read and type on it. This makes it a better online training tool. You can also turn the internet off to stretch battery life. Plus, tablet screens are generally hardier than smartphone screens, so they’re safer for field use.

2. Environmental Suitability

Solar tablets are sometimes referred to as ‘low-carbon learning tools.’ Aside from their natural fuel, they produce fewer emissions than standard computers or even mobile phones. They generally use lower amounts of energy as well. The size of the screen cuts down the need to print documents because they’re easily legible. That reduces litter and saves trees, as well as minimizes the cost of printers, ink, scanners, and related devices. Your tablet is lightweight, so it’s more convenient than carrying a course-load worth of textbooks. As a result, you can deploy online training on a grander scale and do your organization’s part to ‘go green.’

3. Facilitates Blended Learning

Mobile phones are very personal devices. Most of us would be uneasy about handing our phone to a classmate or teacher. A tablet is far more casual, especially if you restrict it to educational use. No iffy photos or private texts. Plus, its heft and bulk make it easier to pass around in a group setting. It’s easy to gather around a tablet for a group discussion. This scenario is far less facile when the ‘communal textbook’ is on a mobile phone screen. Plus, it allows you a work-life-training separation. You can have your phone for personal use and your tablet for online training and work pursuits.

4. Affordability

You could buy a dedicated tablet with fewer social features and functionalities. These tablets often have stronger outer casings and limited tech. Their cameras may have low pixels, their RAM may be lower, and their processors may be slower. They’re not intended for gaming or selfies, they’re mainly for study. This kind of tablet is mass-produced and issued to remote schools in third-world nations, or to simply deploy a more cost-effective mobile learning strategy in corporate settings. You can buy a wholesale batch for in-house, or field-based, online training purposes. It could even be restricted to intranet rather than the public web. This type of solar tablet can cost less than $50 in certain markets.

5. Learner Engagement

With solar-powered tablets, staff would no longer need to travel for further studies, costing the company time, transport, accommodation, or food. Solar-powered tablets bring career advancement to the office, cutting expenses and raising retention rates. They also improve employee engagement and participation by removing tech roadblocks. Employees no longer have to worry about accessing a training terminal during their ‘moment of need.’ Instead, they can simply log into the LMS on their solar-powered tablet to get crucial information and apply it immediately. They also won’t have to deal with low battery during remote sales calls when they need to access product information or skill-building resources. All of this translates into more effective online training because employees are active participants who know they can get the essential support they require.

The Drawbacks Of Solar-Powered Tablets For Mobile Learning

There are two sides to every story, so I would be remiss to overlook the drawbacks of implementing a solar-powered mobile learning strategy. Of course, it will require a significant up-front investment, as your organization must purchase the devices. Unless you’re opting for a BYOD strategy, in which case you may run into some resistance from employees who don’t want to pay out of pocket for solar-powered tablets. Another downfall is the perception. Many corporate learners might feel as though they don’t have the necessary technical skills or experience to make the switch to mobile learning. Especially if you’re still using a traditional training approach. However, ongoing support and emphasis of real-world benefits can help them change their mindset.

It doesn’t seem like studying on a tablet would make that much of a difference, but it does. It widens the scope of learning and improves learner engagement. Solar-powered tablets have larger screens and keyboards that make it easier to consume learning material. They bring access to areas with no power grid or steady broadband. Solar-powered tablets are gentler on the environment, with lowered electricity bills. They’re cheaper than many smartphones and facilitate convenient blended training, both online and offline. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages when you’re trying to make a business case for solar-powered tablets in corporate eLearning.

Are your employees busy, overworked, and in need of on-the-spot training? Read the article 9 Must-Haves For Multiplatform-Friendly Online Training Courses to discover 9 essential elements of multiplatform-friendly online training courses.

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