Research Update: 23 Mobile Things


Published: November 9, 2014 by Michael Stephens

In November of 2012, I posted about my ongoing research concerning the Learning 2.0 model and its application to mobile devices. Since then, the “Mobile 23 Things” program has grown and evolved, following in the footsteps of the original incarnation.

Recognizing the transformation in the way individuals prefer to seek information, the L2.0 program was adapted in 2012 to a new platform, engaging library staff via mobile devices, rather than computers, in a self-paced online learning journey. Retitled “23 Mobile Things,” the program was developed by Jan Holmquist, Director of Development, at Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne, a public library in Denmark.

As of this writing, the program has replicated at least ten times, including large-scale versions in Australia/New Zealand, Singapore/Philippines, France, and Germany. 

A recent article I published this fall in Library Management includes an overview of the first 23 Mobile Things program and analysis of pre- and post-program staff surveys. Analysis of survey responses from staff participants as to the program’s effectiveness is a means to identify effective practice for implementing self-directed, mobile learning programs in library settings. Administrators considering the mobile L2.0 model, or those developing other types of self-directed online learning for groups, will find supporting evidence for the model’s use.

The pre- and post-program surveys asked participants to rate their familiarity with the various applications and tools that made up the 23 Mobile Things program using a Likert Scale (very, somewhat, not very, have only heard the name). Overall, familiarity increased for all of the included applications. Some of the tasks or tools, such as email, the Web site, and e-books, were already very or somewhat familiar to staff. For other tools, such as Instagram and Twitter, familiarity increased significantly. Twitter, it should be noted, was used as one of the prominent communication tools for the program

Open ended questions about the program design and delivery offered a chance for participants to share perceptions of program success. Program benefits, culled from qualitative answers and coded by frequency, include:

Program design and learning guides – The design and delivery of the program was effective, including the weekly guides for discovering the mobile tool or application and the use of Twitter as for sharing. (70%)

Learning together – The participants appreciated exploring the mobile tools and applications as a group, working collaboratively at times, and meeting at support cafes to discuss their progress. (35%)

New knowledge, new ideas, new experience – Participants were exposed to new ideas about information services, and appreciated being “in the know” about mobile tools and applications. (35%)

Support – There was a good amount of support offered for the program, via Twitter, support cafes, and interaction with other participants. (25%)

Created to promote a culture of learning and exploration, this study offers supporting evidence of the benefits and impact of 23 Mobile Things for PD and for librarians and administrators to utilize this free, open program for staff training. The 23 Mobile Things program cultivates an enthusiasm for experimenting with emerging and unfamiliar technologies by providing a simple, adaptable framework contributed to by library professionals and targeted to library services. The program’s clear focus on immersing participants in the potentials for mobile technologies allows 23 Mobile Things adopters to design and use the learning and practice for all aspects of library service.

Find the full research study at:

Stephens, M. (2014). “23 Mobile Things: Self-directed and effective professional learning” Library Management, 35,(8/9).


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