M-Learning - The Difference

The dawn of the mobile revolution has brought about major changes in today’s society. This is especially so in the education sector. The dissemination of tutelage content has been made more efficient and convenient. Mobile learning, or simply referred to as m-learning, is the utilization of portable/hand-held devices to access online learning material. It is facilitated through web browsers and applications.

More often than not, people tend to use the terms e-learning and m-learning interchangeably, which is an uninformed mistake. Even though mobile learning is a mode of online learning, there are various aspects that set it apart from e-learning. Reliance on the electronic transfer of information is the only justifiable similarity between the two. For starters, the learning experience is distinct in both.

Essentially, mobile learning is education on the go. Mobile learning apps enable users to carry out revisions, practice and even learn topics at their convenience no matter where they are. This article takes an in-depth look at mobile learning and the fine line between it and e-learning.

Differences Between Mobile Learning and Electronic Learning

Medium of Delivery

While e-learning is conducted via devices with a large real screen estate such as computers and laptops, mobile learning is conducted via small handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Mobile learning can be accessed at any time or place as long as the device has an internet connection while e-learning involves the learner being confined to a computer desk.


The main purpose of e-learning is the comprehension and retention of in-depth knowledge or skills in a particular subject. The learning conducted through e-learning is time-bound, structured and covers whole topics.

The main purpose of mobile learning is reinforcing or supporting a learning process that is already ongoing. Learners in mobile learning get to go through important and concise bits of information on broader topics or subjects to enhance their knowledge. It is also effective in the quick dissemination of knowledge.

Content Design

Due to the difference in screen sizes, content has to be tailored appropriately to fit the different sizes. In e-learning, the screen sizes allow for more content to be fitted on a single page. Therefore, the content in e-learning is more detailed and can contain complex graphics and other intensive multimedia features. With e-learning, there is also the possibility of a live video stream of content or sessions.

Mobile learning designers have to put into consideration the small screen sizes and adapt the content accordingly. The content provided basically doesn’t exceed one idea per page. In the cases of interactive content, large buttons to input selections are usually preferred when providing feedback.

Advances in technology have availed multimedia formats that are compatible with mobile devices, which means that mobile learners have access to more types of content such as high definition videos. There are also high-end mobile devices that can live stream in high definition.


Due to the difference in length of the content provided in both modes of learning, the duration of time it takes to complete a session is different. An e-learning course module takes around 20 - 30 minutes. Mobile learning designers have to put into consideration the fact that most mobile phone users usually have divided attention most of the time while using the phones. Therefore, a mobile learning session has to be squeezed into a three to ten-minute time frame.

Period Between Assessments

The content provided in e-learning sessions is usually lengthy and complex in nature. Learners require a significant amount of time to comprehend and retain the information obtained. This means that the assessment of learners is spaced out. The period gaps between assessments may weeks to months.

However, in mobile learning, the learners may be assessed regularly due to the fact the content provided is usually concise and can be digested within a short period of time.

Benefits of M-Learning (Mobile Learning)

Mobile learning is slowly taking over the e-learning scene, and there are compelling reasons as to why this trend gaining ground.

Learning Flexibility

Gone are the days when education was only limited to the schedule and walls of a classroom. E-learning enabled learners to study at their convenience. The advent of the mobile technology has now taken the convenience of e-learning to a new level. Not only can users study the time they want, but they can now carry out their studies in real-time at their current location.

Increased Memory Retention

Research has shown that the consolidation of memory from short-term to long-term is enhanced by the repeated intake of information at short and regular intervals. Unlike e-learning which is conducted at its allocated time, mobile learning enables the repetition of the learning process at any time. This helps users to revamp their knowledge on particular topics. More so, practice exercises and the feedback obtained from their tutors and other users help to solidify their knowledge.

Simultaneous Learning Support

People are different and are abled differently. Some are fast learners while others are slow learners. Mobile learning is beneficial to those who take time learning new concepts. Even if a person is sharp, it is hard to grasp some concepts after the first time. Mobile learning offers a great way of learning repetition after the session is over.

Unlike e-learning, which is often simplex or unidirectional, mobile learning allows for a collaborative learning environment between students and between students and tutors. This environment enables the sharing of information and feedback between the parties, and this is very useful in the learning process and problem-solving. The mobile learning environment also helps to strengthen the relationship between students and their tutors.

Better Completion Rate

As stated earlier, the content provided in mobile learning is usually concise and bite-sized. This allows for a simplified read, which can be accomplished within a short period of time. This means that students can complete their courses in a timely manner and move on to the next courses.

The tutelage sector has definitely reaped a lot and is set to reap more from mobile technology. M-learning has proved to be a force to be reckoned with, and its benefits cannot be understated. With more and more people embracing and adapting to mobile technology, only time will tell how much of an impact that mobile learning will have on the society.

« Previous post
Algorithmic ELearning
Algorithmic ELearning

Discuss this article