ADL to Conduct Mobile Learning Research Needs Analysis

Beginning in February 2013, researchers on the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Mobile Learning Team and Next Generation Learner Team will be conducting a thorough needs analysis in preparation for a new design-based research project named the Mobile Training Implementation Framework (MoTIF). We need your help! The focus of the project is to explore the intersection of multiple design and research methods in order to better understand – and potentially influence – how education and training professionals can best utilize and leverage mobile-based technology to develop and implement optimal training and performance support solutions.

As a growing number of mobile innovations become available in the learning space, education and training technology thought leaders are now interested in how to effectively design for a variety of mobile learning scenarios.

In a 2011 conference paper, we proposed an investigation of instructional design (ID) theories and models for mobile content. Our 2012 whitepaper built upon the proposed research topic and focused on how learning theories and ID models can best support mobile learning. The paper concluded with:

“Very few actual ID models for mobile learning exist…Instead of creating a new ID model, we have presented a framework that can be used to incorporate mobile learning considerations into existing ID models (which theoretically are neutral).”

The framework proposed in the whitepaper was intentionally conveyed at a conceptual level. Until now, ID models have not been optimized for instructional designers and content developers to guide them in making the many decisions involved in designing appropriate mobile learning content. The new framework will serve as a vehicle for designers to focus on improving performance and augmenting skills—rather than just knowledge transfer.

An innovative and comprehensive research approach is needed to validate and expand upon the scope and detail of MoTIF. We have chosen the Integrative Learning Design Framework (ILDF) as our design-based research approach. The general intent of using this approach is to generate research results that provide practical understanding and applicability to real-world design projects.

The Problem and Target Audience

The mobile platform presents both unique affordances and constraints for the design of learning content. These are not being accounted for in traditional ID models, as stated in the literature review from the 2012 whitepaper. We believe this knowledge gap may lead to less effective learning outcomes for the learners due to the following observations:

  • Many learning content developers are creating new mobile content and converting existing eLearning courses to a mobile format by simply repurposing and resizing them to account for the smaller screen and interface differences. Often, there is no consideration for the aspects of learning, pedagogy, performance support, and user experience design.
  • Mobile learning best practices have not been identified within the overall context of following an ID model or learning theory. Learning content developers are not sure how to design for the different motivational, contextual, pedagogical, and social/communication aspects of the mobile platform.

The goal of the MoTIF research project is to support education and training professionals who are transitioning from eLearning to mLearning by providing a framework and catalog of microstrategy examples for thinking more deeply about their systematic design processes and mobile-specific affordances (e.g., using GPS for location-based and contextual learning, using the camera for augmented reality).

We are looking for stakeholders and experts fitting these criteria to help us with the first phase of the needs analysis:

Domain Job/Role Equipment/Experience
  • Academia
  • Government
  • Industry
  • International community
  • Instructor
  • Instructional designer
  • Learning content developer
  • Training professional
  • Human performance improvement expert
  • Policy and acquisition professional
  • Own at least one mobile device
  • Basic understanding of using mobile applications for learning
  • Prior experience with mobile development is NOT required

Please contact us at if you are interested in participating. We will begin conducing focus groups, interviews, and administering surveys as part of the initial needs analysis in February 2013.