If you’ve been tasked with a mobile learning project—be it your first or your twenty-first—be sure to pick up a copy of Learning Everywhere by Chad Udell. Written for the mobile learning practitioner by a mobile learning practitioner, Udell’s first book will, I hope, not be his last. With practical advice, insights and a healthy dose of humor from someone who has worked in the mobile-learning trenches, you’ll be sure to find the technical details, relevant examples, and clear explanations that will help make your mobile learning initiatives a success.

What’s in the book?

Learning Everywhere comprises 14 chapters, four of which provide a framework of mobile learning content categories sure to become standards in the industry. The first several chapters lay a foundation for the technical details that come later in the book. From the outset, Udell offers several benefits of mobile learning—increased productivity, sales, and accuracy, with decreased mistakes and defects—but he goes a step further in articulating the strengths of mobile technology for learning and provides a clear explanation of augmentation versus presentation (pull versus push). In short, he helps the learner understand—truly understand—how you can leverage mobile to deliver curated content to learners at the specific point of need.

You may be thinking, “But my learners have such diverse needs. How will mobile learning meet all those needs?” Chapters Two and Three in Learning Everywhere will answer that query—and more—with sample survey questions, tips, and a detailed look at how to create your content strategy. Next, Udell takes a deeper dive to help readers determine the right mobile learning paths for their organizations. And, again, readers will be delighted with the straightforward advice and approach to find the proverbial low-hanging fruit and project the ROI for potential projects. Udell readily admits this ROI calculation is not an easy task and counters that mobile learning offers specific “affordances—what it does uniquely—[that] can lead to innovation in and new approaches to training.”

With this foundation, we move into the nitty-gritty details of four primary categories of mobile learning identified by Chad Udell:

  • Converted Content (eLearning, job aids, instructor-led training, performance support)
  • Business Processes (SCM, ERP, CRM, contacts applications, custom-developed company software)
  • Social and User-Generated (community-generated content, wikis, chat, Twitter, etc.)
  • Uniquely Mobile (virtual or augmented reality, GPS data, other sensors, touch and haptics, voice and messaging services)

Understanding each of the four types of content will, of course, help you with other decisions; such as what path you—and, ultimately, your organization—will take. Udell’s candid input in this area is telling: “Choose your mLearning approaches and categories now, and drive that effort, or be prepared to have them drive you.” His advice includes:

  • First, convert your best existing content to mobile in a usable, fresh user experience optimized for the devices used in your organization.
  • Next, find the true social learning landscape in place at your organization.
  • Then, start looking down the unique avenues that mobile learning can take you.
  • Finally, consider line-of-business applications.

He dedicates the final section of the book to turning this new strategy into reality with actionable steps and been-there-done-that advice. Udell covers the basics of budget, schedule, scope, and team considerations, with the added considerations of relatively new development methodologies. These final chapters really demonstrate the depth and breadth of Udell’s experience with expert guidance in a multitude of areas – platforms, operating systems, usability, and prototyping among others.

The final word

The level of detail provided throughout Learning Everywhere is extraordinarily helpful. Udell provides a plethora of wireframes, screenshots, and design and content considerations to expertly convey what is and what could be in terms of mobile learning today and in the future.

Perhaps Chad Udell himself sums it up best with thoughts from the end of Learning Everywhere, “This is a big world, and it’s always accessible with your learners having a powerful tool like mobile devices in their pockets or on their hips. It truly is about learning everywhere.”

Bibliographic information

Udell, Chad. (2012) Learning Everywhere: How Mobile Content Strategies Are Transforming Training. Nashville, TN : Rockbench Publishing Corp. ISBN: 978-1-60544-017-0. 288 pages.

Editor's Note (7/26/2012): Chad's book is now available for the Kindle.