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Mastering Mobile Learning by Chad Udell & Gary Woodill

We all struggle to figure out how to fold new technologies into our learning experiences. It seems human nature to try and shoehorn the new tool into our existing paradigm, rather than ask how our paradigm could change. If this sounds familiar to you, Mastering Mobile Learning will be a useful tool to help you reframe your thinking. But don’t try and read it overnight. At over 300 pages, it takes some digesting.

The five parts of the book model the thinking sequence we should follow if we’re going to succeed with mobile:

  1. Understand what it is and what it is not
  2. Get your strategy right so you know what you’re trying to do with it
  3. Pick the right mobile tools for the job
  4. Design and develop effectively
  5. Deliver effectively

Each part contains varying levels of practical advice. Whether it’s drilling into alternative reality games and device sensors, or effective instructional design for mobile, there is plenty to think about. The emphasis though is on the technologies themselves, the chapters on managing programme implementation and budgeting are light. There’s probably room for a second edition that also addresses measuring the impact of mobile interventions.

Because different people are typically involved through the process of strategy formulation to programme delivery, treat it as a resource the whole team can dip into. Think about using it as a frame for discussing and evolving your companies approach to mobile through the whole cycle.

While it’s a tour de force across the use of mobile devices, we do think there is a danger that it will in some ways, narrow your thinking about mobile learning. On the first page, the writers acknowledge that it is the learner (that) is mobile. However the book then focuses exclusively on mobile technologies and how to make use of them. Here’s the rub. If you only think of mobile learning in terms of technologies, you’re limiting the vision for the learning experience. Is there no place for print? No place for people meeting and talking face to face without smartphone in their hands? If it’s the learner that is mobile, then designing a blended learning experience that starts wider than just using technologies is important. The 70/20/10 model suggests that most workplace learning is going to happen with the person standing next to you on the job. Technology might assist the engagement, but don’t limit your thinking to the idea that it must be the channel. Perhaps a coaching programme for peer learning is more useful that capturing big data to analyse what the learner would tell you if you asked them.

This book is a great resource to inform your use of mobile technologies, from your strategy through design, development and execution. But keep in mind it’s the learner that is mobile, and use what’s best for their context, technology based or not.

(1)    Udell C., Woodill G., (2015). Mastering Mobile Learning. John Wiley & Sons.

 

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