There’s a Dutch saying that ‘windmills are placed where there’s wind’. In a similar vein, there will always be places where human beings want to go in order to learn.


This may well be because humans who’ve been exposed to any formal education process have become conditioned to this. So, for example, they’ll want to learn in a classroom because they’re been conditioned to believe that that is where learning happens. The concept of learning independently at the workplace – either formally or informally – may be increasingly culturally acceptable, thanks to a number of factors not least the development of computer-delivered learning over the last 30 years or so. However, there may still be some conceptual difficulties involved with learning while on the move.


Euclidean space is infinitely divisible. In other words, there are an infinite number of points on a line drawn between any two places. Technically, you can choose to learn at any point along that line – or, indeed, any other point. Effectively, you can learn anywhere in the world.


However, there are only a finite number of places where a person may want to learn. The spaces in between these places are irrelevant from a learning point of view. This introduces the concept of hodological space. This consists of a number of discrete, finite, bounded regions analogous to ‘states’. This is rather like the London Underground map – where places in-between the stations marked on the map don’t exist for the purposes of the traveller.


This has implications for those designing learning materials and for those using them. It has implications for the technology that is being used to deliver learning and for the attitude and motivation of those using this technology.


After all, it’s possible to learn wherever we are. Informal learning opportunities are infinitely ubiquitous. Yet, according to the concept of hodological space, will we actually ‘learn’ if we’re not in an ‘appropriate’ physical place to receive that learning – and, thus, don’t believe what we receive to be learning? As the old saying goes, ‘there are none so blind as those who will not learn’.


This article was submitted for the eFront Blog Competition. It failed to make the final of this international competition – but another Bob Little article did. Bob Little’s ‘Meeting Learners’ Needs’, examining the e-learning/ performance support continuum, is one of five finalists in the competition (see: You can find Bob’s article at Please feel free to tweet about it, ‘like’ it, share it on Facebook and LinkedIn – and engage in any other form of social media promotion for it – since the competition’s rules are that the winner is the article with the most social media interactions by 10th January 2013.