Mobile Learning

Mobile Learning

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Mobile Learning, also called M-Learning, relates to learning that takes place using mobile technologies while not at a fixed location. Mobile learning is supposed to facilitate, enhance and extend the reach of the teaching and learning process and support performance at work. The mobile devices that can be used for this purpose are eReaders (such as Kindle); audio and multimedia guides (such as in Museums); handheld game console (such as PSP, Nintendo DS); personal media players (iPods); Personal Digital Assistant (PDA); laptop; tablets; Ultra Mobile Personal Computing (UMPC), mobile phone, camera phone and SmartPhone). The main requirements are to have a reliable connectivity (3GP, GPRS and Wi-fi) and a mobile device.

Mobile Learning can be used to Deliver Learning, Foster Communications/Collaboration, Conduct Assessments/Evaluations using polls for example, Performance Support as for instance with job aids. The elements you can use to facilitate M-Learning are capturing a video, taking photos, recording audio, writing a document, using social networks, receiving and sending emails and messages, accessing HTML5-based browsers, using GPS and location-based information, downloading applications (apps), facilitating voice, video and screen sharing. The content can be delivered using the browser or by using an application for the device in question.


Toolkit.png Considerations for Designing Mobile Learning Programs


  • General: Consider if this is the best delivery method and whether it will be able to fulfill the intended learning purpose.

Identify long-term strategies: Once worked on small scale, it is easier to expand the learning by adding more lessons, chapters or even subjects. Bear in mind that you might need to design content specifically for the mobile learning or in case the content is already established you might need to adapt it to the device you have in mind for mobile learning. If you are just starting using mobile learning, you should work with a small trial group and arrange for some follow-up meetings to understand what is working and what is not.

  • Audience: Mobile learning needs to be used appropriately, according to the groups of students involved. You need to know who the audience is and what kind of technology they are more familiar with. Should consider using a pilot group before dissemination to a wider audience.
  • Technology: Make sure the technology will support the content you plan to implement.
  • Strategy: Develop a plan that takes into consideration all the main points and how changes, for instance in software, will affect the learning.

Establish goals, deliverables and consider what will be measured in order to determine the impact of the learning. Allow for a technical support strategy as well.

  • Budget: Consider the budget available before starting to develop the content and choosing the platform that will be used.

Establish whether you would like to develop a custom application (more expensive) or whether you will develop the content for browser-based delivery (cheaper option).

Development and Implementation:

  • Keep it short: Considering the mobile learners will probably be moving, it is better to keep individual modules up to 5-10 minutes maximum. It might also be a good idea to allow the learner to continue where he left off, as for instance using an automated bookmarking technique that tracks the users’ actions.
  • Keep it simple: Considering the screen size is smaller, there should be restrictions on the number of options and interactions to a minimum. It is recommended to have no more than 1-2 options at any one time available to the user.
  • Make the most of media: Even though media can be useful for supporting learning objectives, attention needs to be paid to associated downloading costs.
  • Use the features: Most devices also allow for features like geo location, photos, audio, text, upload information, so the trainers and the learners should take advantage of this.
  • Include elements of collaboration: It might be a good idea to use it as a part of a blended program and to facilitate interaction between peers, experts, mentors.
  • Get support with content design: If relevant, learners could support with this practice by providing some ideas, as it encourages the learning to be open and collaborative and ensures it meets their needs.

Benefits of Mobile Learning


  • Conveys smaller pieces of information which might enhance retention as there is less chance of cognitive overload.
  • It could be utilized as part of a blended learning approach.
  • It can be a useful add-on tool for students with special needs, depending on the learners’ disabilities.


  • The user is able to double-tap into a paragraph or piece of information and it will become full-screen, focusing the user’s attention on that item.
  • Mobile devices can be used anywhere, at anytime.
  • This kind of learning allows for more light weight devices in comparison to books and PCs. It is also much easier to accommodate mobile devices than desktop computers in a classroom.
  • As the devices used are already being used by them for other purposes, the learners do not have to adapt to it and can start the learning process straight away.


  • Location specific opportunities to access information including use of QR codes (which is a kind of matrix barcode to store text information such as URL’s, phone numbers or messages)
  • New technology would be a good way to keep the learner interested and motivated.

Challenges of Mobile Learning


  • There are some issues with cheating and making sure it is the learner that is using the application.
  • If using this approach in a classroom, it is necessary to have enough devices.
  • It might be difficult to measure learning in a mobile learning environment, the same way it might be difficult to track results and do follow-up.
  • There might be some cost issues, despite these kind of devices being cheaper than a personal computer.
  • There might be a need to adapt the existing e-Learning materials or even create new content for mobile platforms.


  • There might be issues with security, in terms of the device being lost or stolen and also security related issues with the software of the device.
  • Connectivity and battery life of the mobile device should also be considered as they can limit access.
  • The device might not be able to support the format of the content of the mobile learning.
  • The size of the screen and keyboard could interfere with certain activities, as there should be some restriction on the number of options and interactions on the screen for usability.
  • There might be difficulties to meet required bandwidth streaming.


  • Technology is usually being updated and there are frequent changes in device models and functionalities.
  • In case the learner needs IT support, there will be an issue of how this can be provided.
  • There might some issues with regards to access to and use of the technology in developing countries.[1]


Tools for Mobile Development

The most common operating systems are iOS and Android as well as Windows Phone 7, Blackberry OS are also popular in mobile space. Developers often choose a platform which has a wider reach, using just one programming language, which is called cross platform mobile development

Mobile Development Tools Information
Android OS It has the tools, sample code and all the tutorials and documents. Language: Mostly Java, but some C and C++.
iOS It has the tools, guides and sample code for creating apps on some of the most widely used devices in the world – iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Language: Objective-C.
Blackberry OS It has the tools and resources needed to develop, test and distribute apps for BlackBerry devices including the Torch, Curve, Bold, PlayBook. Language: JavScript.
Windows Mobile OS It develop, test and release applications and games for devices that use the Windows operating system, including Windows Mobile phones and mobile devices that use Windows FU and Windows CE. Language: C and C++.
Palm/Garnet OS It supports a broad range of screen resolutions, wireless connections and the ability to build apps for phone, multimedia or enterprise use. Language: C, C++ and Pascal.
HP webOS It creates and launches apps for HP mobile devices that support webOS like Pre2, Veer and TouchPad. Language: JavaScript, CSS, HTML, C and C++.
Symbian It develops, tests and distributes apps for Nokia’s line of mobile devices. Language: C++.
Cross Platform Mobile Development Tools Information
Airplay SDK The app can be deployed natively for Android, BREW, iOS, Maemo, webOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile. Language: C and C++.
Microsoft .Net Compact Framework The app can then be used with Windows Mobile devices as well as any device that runs Windows CE. Language: C#, VB.NET and Basic4ppc.
AlcheMo Development in alcheMo enables simultaneous multi-platform development with a single code base so you can save time by writing a single app and then porting or bridging it natively for Android, BREW, iOS or Windows Mobile devices. alcheMo for Brew, alcheMo for Android, alcheMo for iPhone, alcheMo for Flash, alcheMo for Windows Mobile. Language: Java.
WidgetPad An open-source and browser-based alternative for iOS developers to create fully interactive, stand-alone and downloadable mobile apps in various programming languages. Language: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript.
Appcelerator It can build native apps for Android and iOS devices, with plans for BlackBerry OS in the works. Language: JavaScript.
Bedrock The CrossCompiler utility can convert any Java ME code into native language for use with Android, BREW, BlackBerry OS, iOS, webOS, Sony PSP, Symbian, Windows Mobile and more. Language: Java.
BREW The app will be compatible with hundreds of devices from Qualcomm, Motorola, Nokia, HTC and more. Language: C.
DragonRAD It is a drag and drop interface to build dynamic and interactive applications compatible with Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. Language: A visual drag & drop interface, no programming language required.
Mobiflex It is a drag and drop interface for use with Android and iOS mobile devices. Language: A visual drag and drop interface, no programming language required.
MoSync An open-source SDK option for universal mobile app development and launch for use with devices running Android, iOS, Java ME, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry OS. Language: C, C++ and Lua.
Whoop Whoop’s WYSIWYG-based app builder can create apps for use with mobile devices running Android, BlackBerry OS, iOS, Windows Mobile, Java ME and more. Language: WYSIWYG app builder, no programming language required.
PhoneGap It can create dynamic apps for use with iOS, Android, BlackBerry OS, Symbian, Windows Mobile and webOS. Language: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
Adobe Flash Platform It can create rich apps and video products for thousands of mobile devices and home entertainment devices. Language: ActionScript.

Job Aid

Pdf.png Designing Mobile Learning

MATERIAL.png Additional Materials
Document Content
Using Mobile Technology to Create Flexible Learning Contexts This World Bank report analyzes the growth and evolution of applications for mobile phones, focusing on their use in agriculture, health and financial services, as well as their impact on employment and government.

Link icon.png Web Resources
In this table you can find three videos that go through Mobile Learning and its main features:
Link Content
How is mobile technology changing our lives? This brief and inspirational video shows how the growth in mobile technology is giving us the chance to exchange knowledge on a massive scale transforming how we work and live.
What is M-Learning This introductory video investigates what mLearning is and what it means.
5 Easy Tips To Use Mobile Learning in Classroom Training Find out how to increase engagement and participation in your classroom with mobile learning technology.
How to M-Learn This second video investigates how mLearning is being used and what that means for the learner.
Pros and Cons of M-Learning This third video investigates some of the very basic pros and cons of mLearning when considering whether or not mLearning can be implemented into the learning journey.
What's different about Mobile Learning? An article to think about the new mindset required when designing for mobile.
Durable and scalable m-Learning This is a presentation analyzing the most important features of mobile learning.
Pinterest Board on Mobile Learning


Check out Click4it's Pinterest Board on Mobile Learning and discover more about Mobile Learning!


  1. Quinn, C.N., Mobile Learning: Landscape and Trends in The eLearning Guild Research, May 2011; American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), Mobile Learning - Learning in the palm of your hand, ASTD Research: Connecting Research to Performance, White Paper, Volume 3, Number 1, 2011; Floro, N., Mobile Learning in American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Infoline, October 2011, Vol. 28 (Issue 1110); Brink, J., M-Learning: the Future of Training Technology, T+D Magazine, February 2011; Norman, N., Mobile Learning Made Easy, T+D Magazine, December 2011; Garff, M., Implementing M-Learning: Make the Dream a Reality, T+D Magazine, January 2012.
  2. (11 November 2011), (11 November 2011), (11 November 2011),, (11 November 2011), (13 November 2011), (13 November 2011), (13 November 2011), (15 November 2011), November 2011), (15 November 2011)