Mobile Learning: Is it More Than Just eLearning on The Phone?

mLearningPeople may have different perceptions on what mobile learning really is, and that will certainly vary based on the purposes you use mLearning for. Generally, some may think that mobile learning is just one of the ways eLearning is narrowed down. Nothing more than that. In the back of their head, the only difference will be a smaller screen compared to a wider screen. 

Frankly though, what do we first think when referring to eLearning? Turns out we think of any form of learning that we receive or deliver, using electronic devices such as computers and laptops via internet or intranet/extranet networks. That is at least the definition we get from the masses.

However, when we refer to mLearning, we think of types of learning we receive or deliver using hand-held and portable devices. The “e” in eLearning is broad and stands for all electronics. Whereas them in mLearning stands for mobiles. That, of course, is a no brainer, you may think. And you will be right. Because digging deeper than that, there are some differences that we can easily understand if we focus on the definitions of these learning method systems.

 These differences rely mostly on 4 key components:

  • Purpose
  • Location
  • Content type 
  • Duration


In most cases, mLearning is used as additional support to the process of learning and catching up. You surely can not deliver a presentation you’ve been working on using smartphones or tablets. However, you can use them to incite your students to take an online quiz, to involve gaming into your class, or to revise quickly through notes. The purpose of this learning method is to increase interaction and direct participation in what is being introduced to the learner through offering practical ways of performance support.


eLearning will most probably have you attached to a desk or to a working table. You will have to adapt your posture to the device you’re learning from. With mLearning devices, you basically do the opposite, you adapt them to your posture and you might as well be going through note revisions lying on the comfort of your bed. Or, on that 15 min time, it takes you to arrive home by bus. You can choose any location and any possible space from where you want to engage in your learning process again. 70 % of people think that their motivation increases when they are able to navigate through their courses using their mobile device.

Content type

This component is easily connected to the previous one. Content, accessibility, location. These change from eLearning devices to mLearning. Specific, in-depth topics cannot be taught or learned through mobile devices. These devices are usually used to digest quick bits of information. That is why the size of the content in mLearning is easily accessible and why the trouble of offline learning is mostly solved through mLearning, which makes this one a preferred choice. 


Our ability to be focused on materials through our phone for a long time is very little. Due to other apps and interesting options for us to engage in, such as social media and/or others, we are prone to distractions. That is why the duration makes a difference. mLearning devices are meant to keep us focused only on brief, shorter terms. Whereas with eLearning devices, the widescreen is set to keep us more engaged in the learning material. 

These are just some of the differences between these two very efficient online learning systems. What is important is that despite them, they both support one another, and used properly they can overcome traditional learning and help you maximize your results in education, whether that be through learning or through teaching.


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