CHAMPIONS review: A Framework for Enterprise Mobile Learning
by Videhi Bhamidi
A refreshing new framework for Mobile Learning and Performance Technologies: by WorkLearnMobile and Float Learning, 2015
Have you come across the word “Intertwingled” before? It’s in Merriam Webster’s online Dictionary, defined as to intertwine while mingling with another. It was invented in 1974 by technology pioneer Ted Nelson[i] (who also invented the word “hypertext”) and even has its own Wikipedia entry.
Why ask? It’s because intertwingling is at the heart of a fascinating whitepaper introducing the Champions framework for mobile learning.
“The new enterprise learning landscape (is) made up of a complex mix of many streams of learning content and experiences, a myriad of devices for interacting with learning materials, layers of infrastructure, platforms, and operating systems, and a variety of new tools to help make it all work together.“
That’s intertwingling for you.
A refreshing, energetic polemic …
Champions starts with a fast moving and refreshingly undogmatic overview of two landscapes: technology and L&D. This does not lead to the conclusion that any particular technology is going to light up the future. It’s about all of them. Yes, intertwingled:
“It’s not just mobile (which it might be), it’s not necessarily screen-based (although it can be), and it is not necessarily divorced from physical reality …. (It’s) … made up of a complex mix of many streams of learning content and experiences, a myriad of devices for interacting with learning materials, layers of infrastructure, platforms, and operating systems, and a variety of new tools to help make it all work together”.
CHAMPIONS is a big, long acronym serving as a mnemonic to help us remember all nine elements. It takes an inclusive approach to enterprise learning, based on an analysis of the capabilities and value that technology brings to it, using the concept of “affordances”, originally conceived by James Gibson[ii]. What does a door handle do? It “affords” you the ability to open a door. “Affordance” describes how an object, like a door handle, has an intrinsic quality that makes something possible for the person using it. The CHAMPIONS acronym is a list of nine affordances that digital technology, in its widest sense, can bring to enterprise learning.
… that’s also practical and down to earth
This may sound complex and challenging but in fact it’s a joy to read and it’s seriously practical. It’s just that there is quite a lot to say because “practical” isn’t necessarily simple. It does justice to the complexity involved without jargon or unnecessary verbiage. The idea of affordances is extremely useful for modern digital learning designers. Each of the ones described in this handbook has a complete chapter covering several aspects of each theme: historical, technological, pedagogical and philosophical, and also has many suggested resources that take the ideas further. It’s a rich and fascinating feast of Intertwingling.
The CHAMPIONS Framework
Here is a very brief description of each of the nine featured affordances that technology can bring to learning:
C is for contextual: the ability to respond to learners’ physical and/or work situations allowing the learning to be situated inside each person’s work focus and learning needs.
Qualcomm’s QC Lingo app helps new employees adapt to corporate jargon and lingo that sounds so strange at first. L&D worked with them to develop a flashcard game containing using the company’s 100 most common jargon words. It uses spaced-learning algorithms to maximize efficiency. They give it to all new employees as soon as they join.
H is for High Speed: the raw speed of modern technology liberates learning design, making it possible to hold huge, live simulations, real time video seminars, bandwidth-rich content, Expert systems that can support learners and help them individual plans.
A is for Ambient: learning can be with you anywhere, responding at your “moment of need”, giving anyplace access to rich content or even location-specific information.
The Qualcomm Museum tells the story of Qualcomm’s 30 years of technology inventions, with many fascinating items on display but very little written information. Positioning iBeacons all around the museum, allowed developers to create an app that “knows” which exhibit is nearest to where the visitor is standing and delivers a video presentation explaining it, to their device.
M is for Mobile: everything from text messages to online seminars, on-demand help to structured programs, one-to-one engagement to collaborative social learning
Qualcomm employees all have access to mobile learning via the Employee App Store, a catalog of dozens of learning and performance support apps. It’s a diverse range: from enterprise tools (email, maps, directories) to onboarding, from social learning tools to video libraries, from language learning to subscriptions to relevant journals like the Financial Times. No single app tries to cover all learning needs. The aim is to always provide something useful. By broadening the definition of learning to include this wide range of mobile tools the AppStore has achieved huge popularity and widespread engagement in the employee community.
P is for Personal: personalised learning, customised for each individual’s needs, whether through adaptive algorithms or open access where users are choosers
Qualcomm’s approach was to replace their LMS with two ideas:
- Multi channel learning: working with multiple vendors to offer employees an entire Employee App Store filled with a huge range of apps and mobile sites. Offering many smaller apps rather than fewer, larger ones gives employees the responsibility to find what works best for them. Apps are not limited to “learning.” They offer support that makes work and life, easier.
- Social learning: the Pathgather platform allows employees to develop, share, and review their own learning paths.
In both these cases, the platforms are not trying to micro-manage the learning. They just hold it all together, so that learners themselves can personalize their journeys.
I is for Interactivity: an affordance that can lock learners into tightly controlled actions that limit rather than liberate. Ranging from hyperlinks to virtually reality, it needs be fit for purpose.
O is for Open: the internet had “baked-in open-ness. IPR limits it. Some open elements should live in digital learning resources. L&D too should be “open” to workforce content creators.
N is for Networked: Networked technologies (via the “Internet of Things” and networked people via Social networking are realities that should be central to learning. Connectedness is key.
S is for Social: Some e-learning assumes solitary learners. Social learning (1:1, many to many, virtual communities of practice) is implicit in networked businesses and is a powerful learning modality.
The Final word
CHAMPIONS is not a quick read but it’s seriously worthwhile and if you tackle it properly you will be inspired.
The many affordances of digital devices means that employees can access many different types of learning activities.
[i] In his book “Computer Lib/Machine Dreams , published b Microsoft Press,U.S.; Rev. Ed edition (1 May 1988)
[ii] Gibson, J: The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception, Psychology Press; New Ed edition (13 Oct. 1986)