What is M-Learning
M-learning or mobile learning is a growing trend, and it seems it is here to stay. Every day the average number of hours that a person spends in front of a mobile device is increasing, and we cannot just ignore this tendency. If we check our numbers, we can understand how important today are mobile devices.
- In 2022, almost 60% of all website traffic worldwide comes from mobile devices (compared to 30% in 2015).
- Education apps take the 3rd place of the most popular Apple App Store categories of 2022 with its 9.7% of total share.
- 15% of American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users.
- Over 35% frequently use their personal mobile device to learn and 26% use it occasionally.
So, let’s understand what m-learning is, it’s advantages and limitations, and discover some examples of m-learning.
What is M-learning?
Mobile learning or m-learning is a way of learning using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. M-learning is commonly defined as a type of e-learning with the difference of using a small screen instead of a regular one. Mobile learning usually has a shorter duration than traditional e-learning content, is more interactive, and has a mobile-based design.
Mobile learning differs from e-learning in different aspects, from the formats used in mobile learning, which have a shorter duration and are oriented to be comfortably executed on cell phones, to the course design, which changes from being linear to take more creative forms focused on short learning times.
One of the main goals of m-learning is to allow learning at any time and place, making the process as flexible as possible.
M-learning can basically have two forms: using iOS or Android mobile apps or just accessing educational content directly using a browser on smartphones. Apps is a preferable solution for educational activities on mobiles as they allow access to camera, microphone, and other operating system resources providing a smoother learning flow. Moreover, mobile apps usually allow to download content to access it later offline, save and synchronize progress, or run a lesson on the background.
Mobile Learning Features
One of the main m-learning features is micro-learning, meaning shorter and more frequent interactions with educational content. When the average duration of an online class is 15 to 30 minutes, mobile-based content should be cut in shorter pieces, 3 to 10 minutes each. This is needed to keep the learner’s attention and give the flexibility to learn or finish learning whether you can. M-learning is usually built on the same content as regular “desktop” learning but being broken into smaller chunks of information.
M-learning is also usually more interactive than traditional e-learning. Such interactivity includes video sas the main type of content, a lot of quizzes, animation, and other forms of gamification designed for mobile devices. Interactivity is also needed to be able to maintain learners’ attention while bolstering retention.
- Seamless access
Being able to access the same content and keep the flow on different devices is a key feature of mobile learning. This means a learner is able to start learning on their desktop and then easily switch to a mobile device at any time and at any stage without losing their progress. All the data is synchronized in real-time.
What content type is best for mobile learning
Video is probably the most popular type of content for m-learning, and there are two reasons before this. Video content includes reading and listening at the same time. Also, such content allows put large amount of information into short videos. This makes learning less time-consuming while being more comrehensive.
Quizzes is often a part of traditional education as a type of assessment and it is also can be easily implemented within mobile apps. Quizzes can be used on their own or within a course after the main content of the lesson. Moreover, quizzes can easily be gamified which makes them more engaging to completing on the go.
Audio content is a very useful format for m-learning. Although it does not have visual elements, there are many situations where a visual component is not very helpful (e.g., interviews with subject matter experts) or can be distracting (e.g., while driving). In these cases, podcasts can be a simple and effective m-learning solution.
Advantages of M-learning
One of the main pros of m-learning is being able to study from anywhere at any time with only having your smartphone with you. This allows you not to stop your progress and spend time more effectively (e.g. learning while commuting).
- Higher completion rate
Research shows that m-learning learners’ are able to finish a course up to 45% faster compared to desktop learning. Moreover, short-form content, compared to huge textbooks or massive 1-hour video lessons, puts less pressure on the learners making it easy to consume content step by step. Also, this form of content allows to easily make learning part of existing learners’ routine.
- Higher engagement
M-learning content is designed to be more engaging with a lot of gamification elements like quizzes and rewards. This allows learners to complete more while not losing their motivation.
Disadvantages of M-Learning
- Limitation in content
The main limitation comes from the variety of topics that can be uncovered through m-learning. For some subjects, it can be hard to break a lesson into small chunks of information in an effective way. Some subjects can be hard to reveal on mobiles. For instance, you cannot properly code or build a marketing dashboard using a mobile. This means that some topics might lose their depths because of presenting them in the shortest possible way.
Using smartphones always means a high level of distraction that comes with notifications and messages. Moreover, there are a lot of apps on our phones we might want to check out. This means keeping learner’s attention might be a problem even with short videos and quizzes. Moreover, it might be harder to spend more time looking on a small screen, compared to a larger computer screen.
- Not for core learning
As a result of the previous two points, m-learning is probably not be the best option for learning something from scratch, especially a deep and complicated subject. It usually works better when it comes to reinforcing core content that is already known.
- Location-based technology. It is proven that people are more engaged with personalized experiences, imagine using mobile geolocation to be able to give personalized learning experiences.
- Virtual and augmented reality. It is a growing trend, as it represents a new way of presenting content, it is proven that virtual reality generates greater retention of content in people.
- Everything is in the cloud. This means that we will not have to download any type of content, this is available from anywhere with an Internet connection, this is already a trend that has been occurring not only in m learning, but also in other aspects.
- 5 g connections. This is one of the fundamental aspects of m-learning, as a better connection quality will improve the quality and speed of learning.
Examples of m-learning
There are hundreds of companies that utilize m-learning, but here are only the two of them described.
Edmodo is an application that is used to share material in class in a simple way, this platform is widely used by schools since it allows to generate a greater interaction.
It also serves to support the work of social learning in which students can share their points of view and promote constructive learning.
Within this app, we can find games and activities to support the work done in class such as games that promote the greater concentration of students, or games that support emotional learning.
Coursera is an e-learning company that offers more than 4000 courses on a variety of subjects, from technology to psychology. Its courses are usually broken into lessons, and each lesson consists of a number of topics. Each lesson usually consists of video or written content and quizzes or assessments afterward.
Coursera provides access to its courses via desktop but at the same time, it has a mobile app where you can follow all the lessons in almost the same way. Videos from the lessons can be downloaded and watched offline. The progress is synchronized, meaning you can start learning with your computer and then continue with your smartphone.