Thursday, December 6, 2012

Using Mobile Learning Technology to Enhance Learning by Making more Interaction and Discussion Possible

 I work in the Center for theAdvancement of Leader Development and Organizational Learning (CALDOL) at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY.

In CALDOL among other things we teach MX400 Officership which is a leadership course for seniors (known as “Firsties”).   In support of the MX 400 course we facilitate a Guest speaker session in which company grade officers from around the Army are brought in to talk to the Firsties. It is a great program which helps the Firsties identify with the profession they will become members of in May 2013 after they graduate and are commissioned as officers in the United States Army.

For this guest speaker event the CALDOL team decided to capture the power of mobile phones and use a mobile application named “Glassboard”. It is a great application that works on multiple platforms (Android and IOS) and is also accessible from the web Discussion participants can interact and post via e-mail as well.

Our approach was to have all 6 guest speakers in one auditorium speaking to 500 cadets and use the 18 cadets from our class as facilitators. The 18 Cadets, each armed with a smartphone or tablet, would be dispersed around the auditorium.  They would post insights and questions they come up with as the speakers presented. After all the speakers were finished designed a 10 minute discussion session where the facilitators would lead small group discussions in their huddles and post insights, comments, and questions from the group.

The guest speakers also were equipped with smartphones and were scrolling through the Glassboard feed looking for the question they would respond to during the Q & A period. Their responses were a little more thoughtful than you might see in a typical Q&A. By selecting questions from the feed, they are selected the questions they could answer based on their experiences, and then can answer with a related story that is a powerful learning experience for the cadets.

The session allowed more cadets to ask questions and the guest speakers to answer more questions. A total of 46 questions were asked and 29 of those questions had at least response, and many had multiple responses from the guest speakers to include video responses.

Screenshot of question in the Glassboard feed.
Identities of cadets posting questions were redacted. 

After the guest speaker session was complete the guest speakers returned to the CALDOL tower and continued to interact with the cadets by answering the questions they had not addressed during the speaker session.  By continuing to engage in the mobile discussion space after the event, the learning was extended outside the walls of Robinson Auditorium. Using Glassboard allowed us to extend the length of the engagement to 36 hours from the time the session started which is better than a traditional speaker session which lasts about 90 minutes and a Q&A  session is worked in. Cadets were engaging the speakers after the event into the next day.

Preparation for this event was very thorough. In true military fashion the CALDOL team prepared a synchronization matrix to coordinate everything that needed to happen before and during the event.  The class before the event we did a rehearsal with our cadets who would be using the Glassboard appliation with smartphones and tablets, so they could practice rapidly posting questions and comments from the groups they were going to be facilitating.

Rehearsals were done with the guest speakers on the day before, and the day of the event. 

The speakers bios were posted outside the auditorium so the cadets would become familiar with the background of the speakers prior to the event. QR Codes were placed on the displays as well so cadets could access the bios on their phones.

Glassboard website:

For more information please send me an e-mail.



  1. I'm checking out Glassboard now as an option for my classes - thanks for the great insight.

    1. Did you check out Glassboard? What did you think?