January 21st, 2016 E-Learning

There was once a time when the term “elearning” encompassed what we know today as mobile learning.

When mobile learning (also referred to as mlearning) first came about it wasn’t exactly clear the difference between the two.

Now the distinction isn’t as fuzzy as people generally have an understanding of what constitutes elearning versus what constitutes mobile learning.

Personally, I have always thought of elearning as an umbrella that includes mobile learning, but I am not starting to do away with that perception given the rise of the mobile learning market.

When most people think of mobile learning today they think of the devices that people use to access course content.

Tablets and smartphones lead the charge in this area, while laptops and desktops would constitute the workhorses of the elearning realm.

There are other factors that make learning distinctly different between these two areas. For example, you are more likely to use certain media in elearning that might not be conducive to the mobile platform just given the screen size.

The amount of content packed into a lesson is likely to be different too. Mobile learning course content often includes smaller “bite-sized” chunks instead of the longer, more detailed lessons that elearning can get away with.

The challenge for instructional designers is understanding how to create their content so that it is acceptable for both elearning and mobile learning platforms.

Content has to contain enough detail so that the key messages are consumed, but not too much that the mobile learning experience is negatively impacted. It really is a delicate balance.

For more information regarding the differences between these two modes of learning, please see the infographic above created by WebAnywhere.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


6 responses

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I disagree – to compartmentalise tablet or laptop users as either one or the other is misleading to people wanting to know about new online learning techniques based on their preferred method/device of learning. Is a laptop user, sat on a train, not mobile? Is a tablet user sat at home on the sofa still mobile, or just too lazy to turn the laptop/desktop computer on?

In an age of accessible web design, and course design, many organisations design their materials, indeed their learning platform, to offer the same experience to their students irrespective of the device used. In fact, this is key to the learning that a student is not disadvantaged for using their own device, irrespective of it’s age, operating system, screen size, etc.

I also disagree. Learning is digital. It needs to be responsive and adaptive. It needs to be cross-platform. To split desktop and mobile is to ignore the rise of mobile in the context of a 9-5 environment when users are also in general terms, still on desktop. Mobile should be a platform extension of what is available for existing offerings.

Avatar Keith

We had a name for what your describing back in the ’90’s…it was called; “performance supports.”

This definition misses out most of the affordances of mobility, not least contextual, active learning, data gathering and interacting with other devices and sensors across multiple environments. Very one-dimensional.

Avatar Dave

Nice work Justine. There is growing need of mobile learning, with advancement in mobile industry, this is becoming practical to view desktop or mobile friendly contents on mobile phone. However, the smart phones/mobile phones are being used a platform for most of interactions.

Avatar Zaheer

Thanks for sharing very informative information with us.

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