Last updated on September 13th, 2022 at 12:30 pm.

What is m-learning? The world was very different before the appearance of smartphones. Today, mobile phones are used for much more complicated tasks than exchanging messages with friends. It has changed a lot of things, including learning.

This article will reveal what mobile learning is as an alternative to traditional classrooms. Here you’ll learn how mobile technology can create more effective and engaging learning.

What is m-learning?

Mobile learning or m-learning is a type of learning when content is compatible with mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) and can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Mobile devices have to be connected to the internet or such content can even be accessed offline. In the first case, m-learning allows immediate interaction between a teacher and student. In the second case, students can truly have access to content anytime and at any place.

One of the examples of e-learning companies that have implemented mobile learning is Coursera. The company offers a number of online courses accessible from a desktop. Meanwhile, it also has a mobile app where you can access the same content and are able to download it on your mobile.

So, mobile learning helps to democratize education, breaking down space-time barriers and adapting to the training needs of students in their day-to-day lives. With m-learning, students can study or take tests directly from their devices whenever they have time. In short, m-learning is not a smaller, portable version of e-learning, it is an entirely different learning medium that affects training content.

While e-learning is supposed to be a complete alternative to classroom lectures, the purpose of m-learning is rather to reinforce and diversify the learning process. It offers learners instant access to small, independent chunks of information, which they can study from anywhere or when they have little free time.

With mobile learning, students can review their knowledge, do exercises or watch a short video. They can also go back to a lesson when they need to. For example, if they are writing an email in a foreign language and are not sure if they are using the correct tense, they can go back to the lesson on verb tenses and check this.

M-learning reinforces any kind of learning and helps learners retain information better and become more engaged. Hope now you know what is m-learning.

Duration of m-learning classes

To give you an idea of how long a lesson should be, think about the context in which the learning takes place. Traditional online courses are usually done on a computer or laptop at a desk and often with a good wi-fi connection. A typical e-learning lesson can last from 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the environment in which learning takes place.

Content developed for mobile devices should be broken down into smaller (3-5 minute) chunks that learners can more easily accessible from a smartphone. Of course, some may also sit at their desks with their smartphones in hand to learn, but they are more likely to study on the go. Because of this, each unit should be of a length that allows learners to explore while waiting in a queue or between tasks at work.

Mobile learning apps

M-learning is possible in two ways: using mobile apps or directly in a browser. In the first case, m-learning needs an app with at least two versions: one for iOS devices and one for Android.

As we have mentioned, e-learning courses can be viewed on mobile devices directly in a mobile browser. So, leaving aside the fact that in the browser we would probably have to zoom in to see the content properly, why would we need an app to view the courses?

Because native mobile apps are designed specifically for mobile devices, they have access to operating system resources and features that web apps do not. Mobile apps make the user experience smoother overall since these apps have access to the camera, audio inputs, barcode scanners, and other built-in sensors. M-learning apps can also include features such as taking courses offline, saving progress, and running processes in the background.

Design for m-learning platforms

The main design constraint of mobile devices is the smaller screen size. This brings us to two things to consider before starting the process of creating a mobile-friendly course.

  • The input method

E-learning content is designed to be used with a tiny mouse pointer, while m-learning content is manipulated with a finger. This means that all clickable interface elements should be large enough so that it is not difficult for learners to click a button or link. So, do not include too small elements.

  • The amount of content on the screen.

A desktop computer screen can range in size from 19 to 34 inches. In comparison, the iPhone XS Max, which is currently the largest iPhone of all, has a 6.5-inch screen. Because of this, you can’t afford to waste pixels on fancy elements and should include only the most important things. The golden rule is one screen, one idea.

Although there are more and more different screen sizes, all these requirements can be implemented using responsive or adaptive design. These are the main modern approaches to m-learning content.

With responsive design, content is laid out in a variety of ways for multiple screen sizes. Content can be laid out differently for smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Each of these layouts is done in advance. When a student opens a course, the system detects the screen size and displays a specific layout. If you know for sure which devices (and their sizes) your students use and that they will not use new models with different features in the future, the adaptive approach is a good solution.

Responsive design uses a fluid layout. Regardless of the screen size of your learners’ devices, the same design automatically responds to the screen size: it scales and moves elements and adjusts features. You don’t have to make a list of the devices your students use or create multiple layouts, as the design will scale down or scale up seamlessly.


So, hopefully, now you understood what is m-learning. M-learning is a separate branch of e-learning and has a lot of unique features. Mobile learning is really popular and widely used nowadays. So it is definitely worth considering if you’re creating an online course or thinking of a new learning method to try.

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