What is mobile learning?

Powerful and yet portable electronic devices such as hand held computers and tablets, MP3 players, iPods and smartphones combined with fast, reliable and instantaneous wireless communications systems and billions of webpages allow us to acquire and use information anywhere and at any time. When this information, which is rich both quantitatively and qualitatively, is used to learn "anywhere and anytime", it is a form of mobile learning (or m-learning). Some of the characteristics of mobile learning are: ipad

  • Allows the construction of learning
  • Use of portable electronic devices with no geographical limits
  • Use any time
  • Is interactive in the sense that the learner may be able to interact with
    • the content (use of powerful software for 3-D animated graphics, interactive widget, simulation of physical phenomena and engineering systems...)
    • other learners (human to human interaction)
    • with the instructor/tutor/consultant (human to human interaction)
  • Personal (learner takes control and manages his/her own learning)
  • Promote collaborative learning (several learners/instructors, either close to or distant from each other)

The electronic devices used in mobile learning makes learning flexible, efficient and effective, and more affordable to such extent that learning is not confined to the classroom only but well beyond it. For example in language learning, a group of learners using a map in a tablet to find directions in the street could be more effective than learning similar content in the classroom. In science and engineering, powerful software help in simulating, with user interaction, complex phenomena and systems to such an extent that the learner does not need assistance and can therefore learn independently. These interactive HTML5 Math Applets for Mobile Learning have been designed to assist learners without without the need for an instructor.
Another example, in Khan Academy’s, learners can use videos to follow step by step problem solving in mathematics, physics, chemistry and many other subject where they can learn at their own speed, independently of the teacher.


1) Handbook of Mobile Learning, Berge Zane, Zane L. Berge, Lin Muilenburg Routledge, 2013.
2) Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers edited by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, John Traxler (google book)
3) The Evolution of Mobile Teaching and Learning edited by Retta Guy (google book)