June 2011
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TD Magazine

Learning About M-Learning

Sunday, June 19, 2011

There seems to be little doubt that the introduction of smartphones and handheld devices have ushered in a new age of mobility that will have profound implications on how people interact with the world and with each other. In his book, Designing mLearning, Clark Quinn gives readers a solid understanding of how the concept of learning can work synergistically with mobile devices to create "m-learning."

Quinn begins by explaining what he believes m-learning is and when it should be used. He follows with a brief overview of learning and cognition. The author argues that instead of replacing how humans learn, mobile devices will help to augment human learning. Quinn goes on to give a brief history of several types of mobile devices, including PDAs, handheld gaming systems, and smartphones. He appropriately notes that the history he provides is not exhaustive and also informs the reader that much of the "current" technology he cites will probably be obsolete or outdated by the time his book hits the shelves. Technology changes that quickly!


Next, Quinn presents case studies on how some organizations have effectively implemented mobile learning experiences. Although these studies are informative, they tend to contain organization-specific jargon that most m-learning designers will probably never need to learn or use.

In the third section of the book, the author informs the reader how to design m-learning experiences. This part is teeming with great ideas, but I would have preferred more specific directions about how to access information on coding applications, program actual experiences, and integrate their creation on the technological front. Heavy on theory and ideas, this section could have included more practical application insights, possibly presented in a field book or workbook format.

I think this book would be good read for individuals who have a basic awareness of mobile technology and its potential uses. A large portion of the book contained information that could be viewed as redundant by anyone who has an intermediate or advanced understanding of technology and a basic comprehension of designing learning experiences. Designing mLearning was a quick, enjoyable read, and I give it three cups of coffee.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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