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ADL’s MoTIF Project Exploring The Full Potential of Mobile Learning (#mlearning)

This content is from Advanced Distributed Learning – – a public service of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD P&R). It’s licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0.


The ADL Mobile Learning Team strives to be the source of information and support for DoD mobile learning initiatives. Effective usage of handheld devices can improve personalized learning and enable learning at the point of need. The Mobile Learning capability supports both the Next Generation Learning Environment and Next Generation Learner of ADL’s research and development strategies.

The future capabilities for education and training with ubiquitous access to connected devices cannot be overestimated and will continue to expand.

Mobile Learning:  Mobile Training Implementation Framework (MoTIF)

Mobile learning is a new educational technology and introduces both exciting capabilities and complexity into the learning design process, but with very few guidelines. ADL’s MoTIF project will explore new types of learning and design approaches that take advantage of the capabilities of the mobile platform. The MoTIF project will result in interventions such as strategies, materials, products, and guidelines as solutions to the problems, but will also advance our knowledge about the characteristics of these interventions and the processes involved in designing and developing them.

What is the problem (gap) this project is aimed at solving or the objective it is trying to accomplish?

Many education and training practitioners are creating new mobile content and converting existing eLearning courses without consideration of:

  • supporting alternative learning methods (e.g., performance support);
  • leveraging the capabilities of the mobile platform (e.g., camera, sensors, GPS)

They are simply shrinking distributed learning courses down to fit the smaller screen sizes of smartphones and tablets. As a growing number of mobile innovations become available in the learning space, education and training technology thought leaders are also interested in how to effectively design for a variety of mobile learning scenarios beyond self-paced training courses.

MoTIF Research Summary

This project is specifically focused on exploring the intersection of multiple design and research methods in order better understand – and potentially influence – how education and training practitioners can best utilize and leverage mobile-based technology to optimally design both informal and formal learning solutions to support the next generation learner.

Rather than postulating whether a certain approach and outcome is better than another, the researchers of this project have embraced a design-based approach that will best position us to hypothesize and test a solution for the problem in context. Design-based research produces both theories and practical educational interventions as its outcomes, and has been more recently introduced as a modern approach suitable to address complex problems in educational practice for which no clear guidelines or solutions are available (Plomp, R. and Nieveen, N., 2007).

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 results that provide practical understanding and applicability to real-world design projects. The research informs practice, and the practice will inform the research.

MoTIF is currently in its first phase. ADL will include a broad sweep of community opinion and involvement to ensure that the results of the effort have durability and traction in the global learning space.

ADL conducted a survey from March 26 through April 26 to help inform our questions for follow-on interviews and a focus group during phase 1. The following list of objectives are what we used to develop the survey questions in support of the needs analysis:

  • Determine if there is a perceived need to identify and document the unique capabilities of the mobile platform for learning.
  • Determine if there is a perceived need to identify alternative learning approaches that are appropriate for the mobile platform.
  • Determine if there is a perceived need for a mobile learning design workflow process or model.

Community Participation

To find out how you can participate in the MoTIF project, contact the ADL Mobile Team at


The specific types of outcomes of this project may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Domain Theories – theories about the context and outcomes within the instructional design domain and mobile learning paradigm.
  • Design Framework – a workflow process and examples that will serve as a set of design guidelines for determining a mobile learning solution or strategy.
  • Design Methodologies – guidelines for how to implement the framework and the expertise that is required.
  • Product Prototypes – examples of mobile learning micro-strategies; and demonstrations of modern communication between and among mobile content and next generation learning environments (e.g.Experience API (xAPI)).
  • Project Website – a collaborative project website where participants in the project can interact and access all of the project reports, resources, and connect with others with similar interests in mobile learning design.

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4 Responses »


  1. Enabling Enhanced Learning Experiences | Classroom Aid
  2. Mobile Learning Isn’t Just Another Delivery Method | Classroom Aid
  3. ADL’s MoTIF Project Exploring The Full Po...
  4. A New Tool for Instructional Designers – The Mobile Learning Decision Path (#mlearning) | Classroom Aid

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
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