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Training and Development Policy Wiki

Page History: Mobile Learning

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Page Revision: 10/17/2011 2:33:13 PM

Mobile Learning



Mobile Learning (mlearning) is the hottest trend happening within the learning world today.  Communication tools such as Twitter and Facebook have changed the way we look at the world of social media and learning.   Methods and concepts of Mobile Learning are evolving so fast that even the learning community is having a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes.  Learning through mobile devices has gradually grown from distant learning to E learning and now we are beginning to explore the possibilities of Mobile Learning.


Mobile Learning is still in its development stage and is at this time defined mainly by what handheld tools you use for learning. For example, mobile learning is sometimes abbreviated as mlearning, this is a type of education that occurs through mobile learning devices, such as handheld and mobile technologies and its hardware, through the use of portable electronic devices or wireless devices like cell phones, smartphones, IPods, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wireless laptop computers.  It is also defined as any learning that occurs when not at a fixed, predetermined location.  There are obviously definitions and concepts that have not been discovered yet because we are still at the early stages of using mobile learning and its devices.  

Other definitions that relate to the mobile technologies 

Distance education:
Educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous means of instruction, including written correspondence, text, graphics, audio- and videotape, CD-ROM, online learning, audio- and videoconferencing, interactive TV, and FAX. Distance education does not preclude the use of the traditional classroom. The definition of distance education is broader than and entails the definition of e-learning.

Distance learning: The desired outcome of distance education. The two terms are often used interchangeably. 
 The Differences between Mobile Learning and E Learning



One question often asked when someone is introduced to mobile learning is what is the difference between Mobile Learning and E Learning? The main difference is connectivity, expense and location of the learning. The distinction between mobile learning and e learning is a very gray area.  A user of eLearning tends to use a tethered (connected to something) style of learning with the intent of learning something or acquiring a specific knowledge or skill.  E learning, on the other hand,  offers learning in a formal and structured manner.   Mobile learning is described mostly as untethered informal or opportunistic such as private, situational, and unstructured.  In many cases mobile learning is used to support e-learning.  Mobile learning is less restrictive because it allows learning to occur anywhere and anytime.

 Solve Problem

Most Mobile Learning is done through handheld or wireless devices, this allows Federal employees’ the workplace flexibility of working anywhere and at any time they wish as long as they meet the deadlines and get the expected results from their work.  It also allows for managing a mobile workforce like those who work under Telework Enhancement Act which defines mobile Telework as a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs (the ) duties and responsibilities of such employees position from an approved worksite other than the  location from which the employee would  otherwise work (mobile) and, likewise,  if an employee decides to take an online course, webinar, simulcast, satellite broadcast,  and view it through their smart phones, listen on their cell phones, PDAs, or other wireless devices.  It could save the Federal government money and time.

As federal employees one question proposed as to whether an employee is covered by the training policies and regulations while using mobile learning at all times of the day.  Most of the training policies address issues related to this type of training, Those same policies and regulations that addresses distance learning also applies to mobile learning.

Stay Current

The following agencies are currently using or are planning on using some type of mobile Learning within their agency:
·    Defense Acquisition University (DAU) - DAU has assembled a group of Faculty and Staff to develop a strategy, experiment with different delivery options, and to ultimately ensure that the University provides the workforce resources that are available at their point of need. Mobile-ready information, performance support tools and learning resources are one channel to accomplish this goal. More information about this effort can be found at the following link:

·         Department of Commerce -  Thinking strategically about the fast-paced lives of their SES corps, the Department of Commerce decided to pilot a mobile learning initiative using a number of popular content providers, including Harvard Business, Book Abstract, and Skillsoft. The requirements were that the content must be downloadable, web-based, and able to be received by any mobile device.  
The framework for the pilot at the Department Commerce included using a mobile-accessible online self-assessment tool, which was used to facilitate a one-on-one coaching session with an I/O Psychologist where feedback was presented to the executive as well as recommendations for career development. Executives used this information to fill out their EDPs and select online/mobile learning content from the three providers.  In January 2011, the pilot was run with 30 SES members and received a great deal of positive feedback. The pilot was evaluated mid-way through the program and at the end of the program so that lessons learned could be captured.  Commerce expects to roll out the full program agency wide in early 2012.

Foreign Service Institute (FSI) - The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) is the primary training institution for the Department of State and the U.S. foreign affairs community. FSI is a designated Federal E-Gov E-Training provider and is an Information Systems Security Line of Business Shared Services Center.    FSI has developed over 250 E-Learning courses/resources, standalone and mentored, which are  designed to promote successful performance in each assignment, to ease the adjustment to other countries and culture, and to enhance the leadership and management capabilities of the U.S. foreign affairs community.  Topics include language and culture, leadership and management, security, technology, economics, public diplomacy, area studies, consular topics, and tradecraft.    FSI has undertaken a modest mobile pilot training and learning program and has just designed and deployed two mobile resources: Dari Express Mobile and Pashto Express Mobile.  These products are designed as stand-alone resources for the specific foreign affairs audience.  The Express Mobile resources in the Dari and Pashto languages were designed to repurpose content from the existing mentored  Dari and Pashto custom E-Learning courses into a mobile tool that is accessible at any time.  Each resource serves as a point-of-need reference tool and consists of lessons in a video- or audio-cast format which require 20-40 minutes to complete and contain key topical vocabulary and phrases in the target language.   FSI is reviewing other materials and courses to determine what addition mobile resources we might provide to our target audience. 



Find Opportunities

Many opportunities have not been established like some type of synergy between mobile learning and e learning.  Now there are many surveys available through different websites, webinars, and universities that can respond to your most frequently asked questions. However, the benefits found in these surveys can be summed up to:

·         Improved engagement of employees and employers.

·         Improved communications between learner,  
       employers and staff.

·         Improved learner progress

·         Improved learner achievement

·         Improved staff motivation

Below are some of the websites that will help with the understanding of what mobile learning is and types of  devices used for mobile learning. 

Mobile Learning Tools:

Blackboard Mobile Learn -

The Biggest Paradigm Shift in the History of Customer Support and Service -

Other Tools and Resources

Information for Mobile Learning Practitioners -

Mobile-Learning-Anywhere-Anytime,   By David Wentworth from i4cp | May 6, 2011, Issue 523

Mobilizing technology for learning Modernizing education and training

Resources on Mobile Learning -

Goggle Mobilizer -

The Learning Guild -


Attewell, J., & Savill-Smith, C. (Eds.) (2003). Learning with Mobile Devices: Research and Development. MLEARN ’03 Book of Pages.  London: Learning and Skills Development Agency.


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