Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

21 September 2010

Augmenting Learning

Clark @ 6:43 am

In looking for a title for my forthcoming book on mobile learning, Aaron Silvers took one of the key principles, augmenting performance, and, combining it with a neat complement to my previous book, Engaging Learning, came up with Augmenting Learning.  I liked it very much, as it elegantly captured several meanings I’m keen on, and I like the principle of having a title that works in a couple of ways.

Unfortunately, the publisher didn’t like it. Worse, the eminent Allison Rossett thought augmenting wasn’t a good word. C’est la vie.

So, what is the title?  Well, to hit the marketing goals of being clear to the audience, yet keeping with something I can live with (you do not want to know what other suggestions were floated), we’ve ended up with

Designing mLearning: Tapping Into the Mobile Revolution for Organizational Performance

I like the part before the colon, and the publishers like the part afterward.  At least the shorthand title will be Designing mLearning, which I can definitely get behind.  And I am excited about the book; I think there are a lot of useful ways to think about mLearning in it (in my completely objective and totally unbiased opinion ;).

Just briefly, however, I want to go into why I thought Augmenting Learning would be a good title.  First, it captures the notion that mLearning is not about providing a full learning experience, it’s about supporting a full learning experience: with additional resources, access to learning resources (calendar, content, etc), and a stretched out learning experience.  That is, complementing whatever formal learning resources you bring to bear with mobile-accessible components.

Moreover, it’s about augmenting formal learning with informal learning.  Performance support, personal, and social learning are all ways in which mobile delivers unique advantages. Whichever of the 4 C’s of mobile learning you bring to bear, you are increasing the ability to perform, both in the moment and overall. Of course, slow learning is a goal I’d be supportive of as well.

Regardless, all the above fall under the rubric ‘designing mlearning’ as well as ‘augmenting learning’, and it passes the sniff test with people more concerned with commercial viability than conceptual elegance. And, if I really do want to have an impact, I have to care about the former as well as the latter.  The book does accomplish the goal of providing pragmatic advice, but in a way commensurate with the goal of providing conceptual clarity, and I can live with that.


  1. I liked Aaron’s idea too… here’s my twist on it….

    Designing mLearning: Tapping into the informal frameworks of conversation to improve workplace performance.

    Comment by Paul Simbeck-Hampson — 21 September 2010 @ 8:08 am

  2. I’m with you on the “Augmenting.” When I first got into educational technology, I frequently used the phrase “Technology-Augmented Learning Environments” (TALE) because I didn’t think classroom would or should go completely computer-based. The mLearning delivery systems I’ve seen thus far are still looking pretty primitive, and therefore augmenting learning is exactly what you’d be doing with them – for the time being anyway. Platforms like the iPad and Kno might change that eventually.

    Comment by Lisse — 7 October 2010 @ 11:41 am

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