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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


'M-learning' is the follow up of E-learning which for its part originates from D-learning (distance education). M-learning is the delivery of learning to students who are not keeping a fixed location or through the use of mobile or portable technology. The rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICT) makes it possible to develop new forms of this education. (Georgiev, T., E.Georgieva, A.Smrikarov. M-Learning - A New Stage of E-Learning,


mLearning (or "Mobile Learning") describes an array of ways that people learn, test or stay connected with knowledge needed for school, work or task accomplishment. Devices utilized include: Mobile Phones, PDAs (such as a Palm or Pocket PC) -- or the combination of the two in a Smart Phone -- and digital audio players such as an mp3 player. This can redefine "on the job" training for someone who accesses a lesson literally "just in time" while faced with a new challenge and they have to turn to their mobile device for instant answers. Field research can take a wealth of knowledge and data into the field with these devices and also send back new data instantly for others to use elsewhere. This is a form of eLearning where mobility matters and the connectedness while wandering away from a desktop or laptop plugged into a wired connection extends the usefulness and timeliness of the lesson and learning experience -- perhaps shared with other mobile learners.

Differences between M-Learning and E-Learning

If e-learning took learning away from the classroom or campus, then m-learning is taking learning away from a fixed point. Where e-learning is an alternative to classroom learning (actually eLearning should/can be complementary to classroom learning) - m-learning is a complementary activity to both e-learning and traditional learning. M-learning respects that a user would like to interact with educational resources whilst away from their normal place of learning - classroom or computer.

In one sense m-learning has been around for longer than e-learning, with the paperback book and other portable resources, but technology is what shapes today's usage of m-learning. Technology now allows us to carry vast resources in our pockets and access these wherever we find convenient. Technology also allows us to interact with our peers instantaneously and work together remotely in ways never before possible.

While the opportunities that m-learning devices present us with are new - the challenges are quite old, smaller screen sizes, limited processing power, reduced input capabilities. These challenges mean that adapting existing e-learning services and content to m-learning is not a trivial task.

m-Learning has been gaining appeal among younger generations who have grown up using portable video game devices and wireless technology. In this sense, mLearning appeals not only to those who need learning portable, but to those who have grown up with a cognitive disposition towards using mobile devices- whether or not they have the need for true portability in their learning.

Challenges with m-learning

The connectivity is one of the main differences if we compare a mobile device with the PC (the usual medium for delivering e-learning). Nowadays mobile devices might be connected to ‘The Net’ via many technologies – WAP, GPRS, UMTS, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc. Although it is predictable that in the future the ‘always on’ will be wide spread still it is not the case. Mobile devices often have periods of disconnection, either intentionally (when the connection is too expensive) or not (when no infrastructure is provided).

Devices’ hardware and software characteristics have a big impact on what content is possible and meaningful to be delivered. Usually the web content is designed for desktop PCs, thus unpleasant and even rarely useful from a small-screened device. Nowadays mobile phones are rapidly becoming increasingly powerful (both from hardware and software point of view) however their screens will remain comparatively small. Often also the navigation is hard. Equipped with a small phone-style keyboard or a touch-screen (for the PDAs) the users might lose more time in searching where on the page the information they need is than in reading it. We can imagine alternative ways of navigation, for example voice commands. The memory available on a mobile device is also relatively small. It is possible to use extension packs on some devices like PDAs, which reduces some of the restrictions.

Devices such as the Nintendo DS raise the bar even higher by providing collaborative gaming. The Nokia N-Gage brings an expandable platform of gaming and mobile communications to the forefront.

mp3 players and other portable media devices have also come into the forefront of the mLearning trend with companies using these devices to deploy education to their 'road warrior' sales teams through podcasts or videocasts.

Location is a new thing to be considered. Although up to now we are talking only about limitations confronting m-learning and e-learning, there are also advantages. The small size of the device and the wireless connections make them available anytime and anywhere. The mobility opens variety of new scenarios. Services involving location-discovery are, for example, receiving directions on how to get to a certain room, or alerts for seminars/lectures that can be triggered while taking into consideration the current place and the time to get to the needed destination; location-aware printing of the learning content, etc.

Source: Copied rather too directly from Trifonova A., Ronchetti M. (2004). "A General Architecture to Support Mobility in Learning". Proc. of ICALT 2004 [IEEE Computer Society Press 2004, ISBN 0-7695-2181-9]. pp. 26-30 [1]


Different communication methods

  • Text Message / SMS
  • WAP Wireless Application Protocol
  • GPRS
  • Bluetooth
  • WLAN / Wifi
  • IrDA
  • I-Phone

Different program languages

  • C++
  • Java (J2ME)
  • MDTS (mobile delivery and tracking system)
  • Flash Lite
  • .NET Framework
  • HTML
  • WAP (WML, XML)
  • Python
  • LMA (authoring and publishing tool)


  • B Sanregret, Hot Lava Software, Mobile Learning: A Reality, Arlington, VA, SALT Conference, 2006.
  • L Low & M O'Connell, Learner-Centric Design of Digital Mobile Learning, Queensland University of Technology, 2006.
  • Sharma, S., F.Kitchens. Web Services Architecture for M-Learning, Electronic Journal on e-Learning, Vol.2, Issue 1, 2004.
  • T Georgiev, E Georgieva, A Smrikarov - Proceedings of the 5th international conference on Computer Systems and Technologies - CompSysTech'2004.
  • A Trifonova, M Ronchetti. A General Architecture to Support Mobility in Learning. Proc. of the 4th IEEE ICALT 2004
  • B Sanregret, Hot Lava Software, MLearning Basics 2005
  • T Toth. Technology for Trainers, ASTD Press 2003
  • D. McPhee and N. Thomas, "Evaluating the effectiveness of m-Learning in the teaching of multi-media to first year university students”, iJET International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning" Vol 1. 2006

External links

  • EU project: Incorporating Mobile Learning Into Mainstream Education
  • EU project: Mobile Learning: The Next Generation Of Learning
  • Sample Content: Mobile Learning: Business Skills
  • Mobile Learning Tools
  • Zimbio's mLearning group Wiki
  • mLearning devices
  • M-learning : home
  • mLearning World
  • M-Learning News Latest developments in mobile learning
  • M-learning and video streaming
  • m-Learning project in Sweden- Academic
  • PocketEd M-learning program at Coastline College Associate Degree PocketEd Program for military personnel
  • Mobile Learning for Kids K-8 sample Standardized Test Prep Content
  • Portal de m-learning en Español
  • The Math4Mobile Project Mathematics for Mobile Phones
  • Mobile Education Center of Excellence Mobile Learning Project at the University of Hagen / Germany
  • Mobility and Mobile Learning EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's focus session on Mobility and Mobile Learning (mLearning in Higher Education); Autumn 2006
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