The evidence is overwhelming. We're becoming more mobile and more dispersed. Devices are becoming simultanteously smaller and more powerful. And the younger workforce that will eventually replace the baby boomers has grown up using mobile devices more than notebook and desktop computers. The Economist describes this shift to a more mobile lifestyle as a new form of nomadism. If you believe, to any extent, these shifting trends, and you are in some fashion in a leadership postion or in an organizational learning function, you must read The Mobile Learning Edge: Tools and Technologies For Developing Your Teams by Gary Woodill, ED.D.
This book is a foundation work on a subject (#mlearning) that I believe will become as big as elearning. Gary Woodill writes this well organized book in such way that one can either read it from beginning to end or skip around from chapter to chapter or so that it can be used as a reference by learning leaders in any organization. There are three very good aspects of this book that are worth noting, which I decribe below:
Balance Between Background and Practical Approaches
The book starts out by describing the background of mobile learning and the shifting trends that is setting up the inevitable move to mobile learning. In addition to this background setting, Woodill cites studies and evidence throughout the book supporting the notion that mobile learning has useful applications and that it can be effective if designed properly. Too many books are based primarily on the opinion of the author, and I like that the concepts and ideas in this book are supported by evidence and not simply by the opinion of the author. As the book progresses, there are several examples of how mobile technologies are being used in learning and the results they have generated. There is a good balance between evidence and real life examples.
Seven Principles of Employee Training
Another great part of this book is the chapter on the seven principles of employee training. In this chapter, Woodill describes how people learn and then adds the context of how mobile learning can be used to support how people already learn. There is some theory in this section, which I appreciate. However, I can imagine some business practitioners would be uninterested in this section. I suggest they give it a try anyway because there is some great background information in this chapter about how people learn that any learning leadership should understand.
Something for Everyone
This book does have something for everyone. If you want the background and evidence from studies, you can read all of the early chapters in the book. If you are a “get-down-to-business” practical learning leader, you can read chapters 3 and 8 through 10 to get right down to developing mobile learning strategies and then implementing it. Depending on your particular needs, you can use this book to support your education in mobile learning in a variety of ways. In addition, there is a nice list of resources at the end of the book that you could refer to again and again as you embark on your mobile learning education.
Throughout the book, Woodill frequently states how mobile learning is still in its infancy, and that it is rapidly evolving. The beauty of this book is that it does not tie itself to any one technology or method. It is broad enough that the book will evolve with mobile learning, and I believe this book will be a resource that you will use frequently as you develop your mobile learning strategy.
If you are worried about how to support the learning needs of an increasingly nomadic workforce, you should read this book.
Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.