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Understanding the Advantages of Mobile Learning

Design for mobile learning should take full advantage of the unique opportunities that mobile technology provides. The widespread adoption of mobile devices coupled with the powerful computational and communication capacity of compact and convenient mobile devices promises a fundamental shift in learning and knowledge work. Design for mobile learning requires an understanding of what mobile technology is and can be for learning.


What are the Possibilities for Mobile Learning?

Three important characteristics of mobile technology are key to understanding its possibility for learning.

  • Ubiquity
  • Multimedia
  • Interactivity

First, ubiquitous access. Widely recognized as the one of the most important features of mobile technology, the convenience of mobile devices gives users anytime-anywhere access to information and applications. Sitting on the train, waiting at the playground, shopping, walking to work, standing in line for tickets, are occasions that now provide opportunities to access to information or tasks. These “micro time slots” (Jones & Wallace, 2007) can extend the opportunities for continued learning and information processing. The time constraints for new training in a busy workplace can be less of a worry, enabling individuals to catch up on learning requirements in small snippets of time. This makes pedagogic sense as well. Mobile use supports a form of spaced learning, where the repeated and temporally spaced exposure to relevant course content can improve retention and increases competence.

Second, powerful multimedia. Mobile devices are now handheld multimedia studios, capable of displaying and creating any combination of audio, video, and text media. Delivery of course content is not limited to bland or stripped down displays, but can include rich and dynamic information. This promotes learner engagement and motivation. Additionally, multi-modal learning is supported, and can be tailored to the individual’s learning-style and needs.

Third, complex interactivity. Mobile technology is used primarily as a communication device. Texting, e-mail, twitter, facebook, flickr, youtube, are all integrated applications that aid individuals in gathering and share information. Effective learning is often social in nature. Collaboration and networked systems of knowledge and expertise facilitate learning and discovery. Mobile devices only make it easier to interact in more and varied ways.

What do the ubiquity, multimedia, and interactivity of mobile technology promise for learning?
Each of these characteristics, by themselves, promise some obvious possibilities for learning, for example, by allowing anywhere-anytime access to learning materials or tasks, deliver course material as rich content, and make communication between instructors and participants easy. However, it is the combination of these three characteristics that holds out the greatest promise for learning.

Mobile technology is not without its challenge for design. Technological hurdles and user habits should also be considered in the design for mobile. Ultimately, the most effective design will take advantage of the integration of mobile learning technologies three most prominent features: ubiquity, multimedia, interactivity.

How can this be used in a corporate training environment?

Corporate training and development professionals are rapidly integrating mobile learning solutions into their organizations. At Allen, we have worked diligently to understand how elearning and mobile technology coupled with sound instructional design can benefit learner performance. One of our first steps into the mobile learning environment incorporated our rapid needs analysis into an award-winning mobile app, DesignJot. We have also developed mobile learning technology for our clients. For instance, we recently worked with JetBlue University to deliver their first mobile learning solution,a powerful interactive map of their Long Island Support Center.

Contact Us today if you would like to learn more about our elearning and mobile learning offerings.

Gunnar Liestol. 2011. Learning through Situated Simulations: Exploring Mobile Augmented Reality. Research Bulletin 1, Educause Center for Applied Research.

Mind Shift. April 20, 2012. Augmented Reality: Coming Soon to a School Near You? Accessed June 27, 2012.

See our mobile learning infographic to see what training and development professionals have to say about the future of mobile learning.