mLearning: Mind the Gap! (or, "where theory meets practice")

Facilitated by Geoff Stead

Webinar on Mind the Gap: closing the gap between mLearning theory and practice (This webinar was given twice) was given on Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 September 2012.
This webinar can be viewed at this WizIQ URL (make sure you have a headset for optimal listening/speaking quality):
The webinar can also be viewed on YouTube:
Or for those using mobile:

The presentation itself can be viewed on slideshare:

Information on this topic:

Hi there, I'm your facilitator in this session, and co-adventurer . When Inge first asked me to do this session, I was a little taken aback, as I wasnt sure how qualified I was to guide us all on theory. I have been deeply involved in mobile learning (both envisioning it, and making it) for over 11 years, but very little of that time has been spent in pure theory. Almost all my time has been spent trying to understand how to REALLY make mobile learning work, in a meaningful and practical way. Not just the theory, but the real down-n-dirty practice. Together with my team we have been building apps / authoring tools / SMS engines / platforms / mobilized content and then using these with hard-to-access learners across the globe, trying to figure out what really does work, and add benefit.

The theme for my session will be "Exploring the gap between Theory and Practice". Together with other leaders in the area I'd like to compare notes on what really works (and what really doesn't!), blending theory, practical application, technical tips and real case studies.

Oh! I meant to add. I work in Cambridge, UK, as the head of TribalLabs - we are the Innovation and RnD arm of Tribal

Contact details

em: geoffstead at
twitter: @geoffstead


Getting up to speed / Setting the scene:

There are a few academic frameworks that can be useful in evaluating, and reflecting on m-learning:

  1. Laurillard's Conversational framework (2002) - showing the different roles that technology can play in the process
  2. Park's Pedagogical Framework for Mobile Learning (2011) - offering a simple matrix to map the transactional and/or social closeness of a learning intervention
  3. Koole's Model for Framing Mobile Learning (FRAME) - 2009 - showing how the mobile learning is an interaction between the technology, the learner and the context.

If any of these are new to you, see the (very) quick crash course at the Mobile Learning Infokit:

FRAME model

The one that most connects with my own thinking is FRAME, because it is quite clear that you any theory about m-learning needs to engage with the technology itself (the device), AND the learner (who they are, what they want), AND their social context.

Do you agree?

The reason the definition works for me is exactly the reason why I suspect m-learning has proved so problematic to define precisely. It just isn't one thing. There may well be one core idea in the middle, but this is heavily influenced by factors that are different in different contexts.

Here are some examples, and contrasting ideas:

while m-learning at work might be about performance support tools, and access to small nuggets of information; m-learning in the classroom might be more about exploring ideas together, and collaborating on a project

while m-learning on a field trip might be exploring your environment (GPS / augmented reality / mapping / camera), m-learning in a lecture theatre might be about taking notes, and looking up references.

while BYOD m-learning might be about sharing critical information via any device; a specific iPad activity will be rely on a specific app on a specific, named device

Folks, these are ALL m-learning, but because the circles in the Venn Diagram are filled with different questions, the resulting answer is different

Our Mission for the week is to explore this GAP between theory, and practice. To work together to try to understand what we can all do to minimise the gap, and move real, down-n-dirty practice towards a clearer and more repeatable reality.

I hope you are ready to join in!


1: Take part:

Every day I will pose a question in the forum, I'd like your help to explore. I will be pulling these issues together by the end of the week!forum/mobimooc-mlearning-theory-group

2: Join in the live session:

We will do the webinar twice, to allow maximum waking hours! (tuesday and wednesday. Check the calendar for details). It's the same session, so you are welcome to attend both, but the main difference will be the back-channels and audience questions.

Before you join, PLEASE fill out our super-quick survey to help us pitch the session right

We'll step quite rapidly through the theory (I'm hoping you have read some of the links, above, first), and then explore some very diverse examples. Trying to understand the gaps, and how teachers have worked to adapt to them.

Then we will round this off with some thoughts on reusable ideas, and top tips for "gap filling"


Our big mission for the week is to build our own "Mind the Gap" top tips. Very short, succinct advice for practitioners trying to use the best pedagogical approaches, without falling foul of the many realities that can get in the way.

mind the gap.jpg

post course update:

MobiMOOC delegates worked together to put together their own set of top tips, for others trying to navigate the murky waters between ideal theory, and real practice. This is what we came up with. Hope it is useful:

mind the gap_sm.jpg

more info on