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

31 October 2010

Review: Gary Woodill’s The Mobile Learning Edge

Clark @ 6:09 AM

In the context of having my own book on mobile learning in press, I’m well-primed to review Gary Woodill’s The Mobile Learning Edge: Tools and Technologies for Developing Your Teams. It could be awkward as well, as I could be considered to be a competitor, with no vested interest in helping.  So, accept the potential for bias, but I feel, fortunately, this is not a problem.

For context, the time is clearly right for mobile learning, what with the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, particularly smartphones, the increasing availability of tools, and an increasingly mobile workforce. As a consequence, there is a clear opportunity to provide guidance.

Gary Woodill’s book, as you might imagine for a senior analyst (his title at Brandon Hall Research), is exhaustively researched.  The book is full of quotes about mobile learning, has a variety of examples, and points to a suite of sources of information.  It is also, not surprisingly, well-written, with a business focus.

Which raises the question of the audience.  This book is clearly written for managers and executives who either are considering a mobile strategy for their employees or as a business.  While covering more prosaic issues like development tools and design approaches, with guest chapters on business and content strategy, this is clearly aimed higher in the organization.

And this brings up the differences between our two books.  When Gary found out we were both doing mobile books (for different publishers), he astutely reached out, and we discussed our approaches and recognized we were shooting for different audiences.  Compared to Gary’s focus, I am instead mostly addressing those who will be charged with executing the actual design.  Yes, his book addresses design, and yes, mine addresses strategy, but they have relatively different emphases. For example, his book has a much greater span of the history of mobile devices, while I’ve tried to focus on the relevant recent past. He also has a current snapshot of tools, while I’ve tried to write in a way that isn’t constrained by changes in the environment.

Overall, I think the books complement each other well. I think if you’re contemplating a mobile business plan, his is the way to go.  If you’re looking for guidance in how to take advantage of mobile to empower your employees, I’ve designed mine to be the one you should choose.  Mine is for people who are thinking about, want to, or have to do mobile.  Gary’s is for those who have to decide about it. To put it another way, Gary’s is the one that should be in the research library and on the executive shelf, and hopefully mine is the one that should be on the shelf of the designer and manager.

This is a very good book; readable, valuable, and interesting.  If you’re interested in mobile, you should definitely give it a look.


  1. Thanks for the very positive review, Clark! The issue of the intended audience is critical for understanding the purpose of any book, and you are correct about the audience for The Mobile Learning Edge. I have had several reviews of the book now by consultants, who hope that decision makers will read the book before they call in vendors of any type to work with them on mobile learning. The vendors want the decision makers to know the material in my book so that they don’t have to start at the beginning and explain the basic concepts to them.

    I look forward to reading your book, Clark.


    Comment by Gary Woodill — 31 October 2010 @ 11:58 AM

  2. I agree with Clark’s assessment of Gary Woodill’s Mobile Learning Edge. It is certainly well written and has been expertly researched providing a lot of detail. I also agree that the book is written for managers and executives, but the book clearly skews towards those managers and executives who already have a strong training and learning background. Gary takes a very broad view of mobile learning, which I agree with, including areas such as performance support, mobile access to product information (from a sales perspective) and mobile data collection. It is this broad perspective that I believe makes mobile learning applicable to corporate departments way beyond Human Resources and Training. For those who are not as well versed in learning theory, there probably needs to be a stronger case for how mLearning applies. Otherwise, Gary’s book has been a very good read and one I have recommended to a number of people already. I am very much looking forward to Clark’s book as well.

    John Feser
    Managing Partner, Float Mobile Learning

    Comment by John Feser — 31 October 2010 @ 6:00 PM

  3. You’ll find a wealth of information about the history of this emerging field, retrieving information, methods for learning, applications, uses, and experiences–and how to put it all together to build a mobile learning system that’s right for your team.

    Comment by Simon Reed | Training — 7 November 2010 @ 10:44 PM

  4. […]   http://janetclarey.com/2010/10/07/new-book-the-mobile-learning-edge-2/   http://blog.learnlets.com/?p=1781   […]

    Pingback by Reviews for The Mobile Learning Edge — 15 November 2010 @ 4:46 AM

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