Mobile learning or mLearning

There are many definitions for mobile learning (mLearning). The definition that resonates most with me is learning that is delivered using a device that fits in one’s pocket. These are devices that people take with them all the time (such as mobile phones or iPods). By this definition, the laptop or netbook is not an mLearning device, since people usually only take their laptops or netbooks with them for specific purposes. Because people always have their mobile device with them, they can truly learn anytime and anywhere.

In the last few years, mobile technology has seen dramatic improvements that make the devices more appropriate for learning, including:  1) multi-touch screen technology, 2) increased onboard memory capacity, 3) improved battery life, 4) integrated WiFi technology, 5) enhanced development toolkits for creating mobile applications, 6) truly usable mobile Web and Internet access, and 7) decreased cost. In addition to improvements in mobile technology, there have been improvements in eLearning development tools, which make delivery of feature rich learning both faster and cheaper.

In eLearning, learners interact with the content using a computer – often in an environment that is conducive to learning. With mLearning, learners interact with the content in less focused environments – such as on the bus or in the car while commuting or in the workplace while performing a specific task. This change in learning focus and environment impacts the effectiveness of learning activities, and as a result should be taken into consideration when designing learning that is to be delivered on mobile devices.

It occurred to me, when I was taking the bus downtown and listening to an iTunesU podcast on Psychology, that I was participating in mLearning. I've also used my iPod to watch TED talks on the bus – that too is mLearning. Now I'm wonder, what else is mLearning? 

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