Mobile learning and how it relates (or differentiates) from e-learning

While most of us have heard or come across the term e-learning in the past decade, the term mobile learning or m-learning is not as widely adapted into common usage. While both are intuitive in their meanings, how they vary and differentiate from each other is not that apparent.

What is mobile learning?
In an earlier post, we’ve defined mobile learning is the ability to obtain or provide educational content on personal pocket devices such as PDAs, smartphones and mobile phones. As we have established in our timeline, mobile learning using handheld computers is in its infancy in terms of both technologies and pedagogies. As a result there is still some dispute amongst industry advocates in how mobile learning should be defined: in terms of devices and technologies; in terms of the mobility of learners and the mobility of learning, and in terms of the learners’ experience of learning with mobile devices. (Traxler, 2007)

Clark Quinn, professor, author, and expert in computer-based education, defined mobile learning as the intersection of mobile computing (the application of small, portable, and wireless computing and communication devices) and e-learning (learning facilitated and supported through the use of information and communications technology).

What is e-learning?
E-learning has come to define any dissemination of educational knowledge over the Internet. This makes e-learning a subset of technology-based training. It also incorporates a number of learning activities conducted on the Internet, of which mobile learning is one part.

Mobile Learning and Elearning

Differentiating e-learning from mobile learning
E-learning can be real-time or self-paced, also known as “synchronous” or “asynchronous” learning. Additionally, e-learning is considered to be “tethered” (connected to something) and presented in a formal and structured manner.

In contrast, mobile learning is often self-paced, un-tethered and informal in its presentation.

m learning vs elearning

Because mobile devices have the power to make learning even more widely available and accessible, mobile devices are considered by many to be a natural extension of e-learning (Ellis, 2003).

1. C. Quinn (2000), “mLearning: Mobile, Wireless, In-Your-Pocket Learning”
2. Traxler, John (2007), Defining, Discussing and Evaluating Mobile Learning: the moving finger writes and having writ . . .
3. Ellis, K. (2003). Moving into M-Learning. Training

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