Designing #mlearning Book Review – Chapter 2

Posted on Jun 28, 2012

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I intend to provide a brief synopsis of each chapter of ‘Designing mlearning‘, but more importantly I intend to answer the questions that Clark poses at the end of each chapter and then pose those same questions back to you ‘Dear Reader


Chapter 2 – The Details

In this chapter Clark shares a small exercise he undertakes when speaking on the subject of mobile devices, in which he allows people to acknowledge that cell phones, PDAs, iPods are ‘mobile learning devices’. I have to say that I’m surprised that there is anybody left on the surface of the planet that wouldn’t recognise those devices as mobile learning devices and wonder whether that is an exercise that may have lost its impact since the publishing of the book?

Some blisteringly high figures are shown as to how many hours a day the average American spend accessing the mobile web (and let’s not forget that these figures are 2-3 years old!!)

Next we take a look at, and dispel, some popular misconceptions around mlearning including (amongst others) such classics as

we can’t provide mobile devices

courses on phones doesn’t seem like a good idea” (the response to which is thankfully used to introduce performance support)

mlearning is limited to smartphones

We then take a look at the business case for mobile learning and Clark explains that he believes that it should be the role of the learning function to take on the role of designing mobile performance – a point which I disagree on.

I believe that it should be the function with the clearest understanding of mobile learning and greatest passion to succeed that should take it on. In my previous organisation I spent the last 12 months as a member of the Comms team driving forward the organisations understanding of what mlearning was, wasn’t and how it could add value. I even pitched to the L&D team themselves and was met by some of the misconceptions that are included in this chapter. So I’m far from convinced that L&D should be the only potential champion of this.

We finish off the chapter with these questions being posed (along with my responses):

  • How many mobile employees are you supporting?
  • This question raises an interesting point in my mind which is “what is a mobile employee”? Surely, unless you eat, sleep and live in your work environment then you are ‘mobile’? Admittedly there are some roles (such as mine) that have a very overt mobile nature to their role and as such attract the term ‘mobile employee’, but surely we should start to consider the effectiveness and value that all employees can add if they can maximise their mobility? Anyway, to answer the question we deploy 43 smartphones throughout the organisation.

  • How widely distributed are mobile devices across your employee population?
  • 43 of ’em, making about 30% distribution.
  • What are the opportunities for improvement in mobile worker performance?
  • Being able to complete web forms for various parts of our processes from mobile devices as opposed to Office docs from lap/desktops. 
  • Accessing client data immediately prior to a meeting. 
  • Accessing of network based data via VPN 
  • What are the benefits of mobile access to content for the employee population at large?
  • Flexibility of working arrangements. 
  • Maximising ‘desk time’ by better utilising ‘dead time’ i.e. travelling, waiting for meetings to start etc
  • Potential for less stress as they can call up info ‘as and when needed’ as opposed to waiting for ‘desk time’

So folks, why not take a look at the questions above provide your own responses in the comments below?
Chapter 1 


  1. @CraigTaylor74 you reading that mlearning book in print or digital ?

    • @zakmensah Print. I was gonna buy it on Kindle and was put off, but then realised we had a print copy in work! Results

  2. @CraigTaylor74 oh I am reading that too…good so far!

    • @FionaQuigs why not answer the questions along with me in my blog?

      • @CraigTaylor74 yes sure – just had a look. Will get to it.

        • @FionaQuigs I look forward to seeing your responses.

  3. @CraigTaylor74 I think I just commented on your blog…not sure as I haven’t used livefyre before!

  4. How many mobile employees are you supporting?
    I agree re the mobile employee comment. I just don’t want to introduce another term to be hi-jacked by learning folks. In my organisation, we are all mobile as are most business these days. We don’t have one central office so mobile technology rather than mobile learning is very important. To that end, I am not sure the term “mobile employee” is a useful one. My view on mobile learning is similar to that of social learning – we have been doing it for ever and a day. Learning on the go, can be anything from reading a book on the train to listening to a downloaded podcast.
    How widely distributed are mobile devices across your employee population?
    We all have smart phones and around 40% of us have tablets.
    What are the opportunities for improvement in mobile worker performance?
    We don’t specifically have performance support, but rather we have job support. I think this is an important definition. We can, for example access our email through smart phones, Office docs and frequently use tablets in client meetings for note taking and demonstrations. Our “office” server is in the cloud so it makes sense that we can access our data anywhere.
    What are the benefits of mobile access to content for the employee population at large?
    You always have access to information you need. Information access is no longer a barrier and you can get on with getting the job done while any support you need is in your pocket. Having multiple ways to communicate is essential too – a quick text when you need a quick answer, a Skype chat on the go, and of course now and then an actual phone call!


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