Mobile learning

The terms "M-Learning" and "Mobile Learning" are usually used to refer to teaching and learning with mobile technologies. The "mobile" in "mobile learning" has two implications:

  • Learner mobility: learners are able to engage in educational activities without the constraints of having to do so in a tightly delimited physical location. To a certain extent, learning can happen outside a classroom or in various locations, requiring nothing more than the motivation to do so wherever the opportunity arises – from books, electronic resources, places and people.
  • Mobile devices: portable, lightweight devices that are sometimes small enough to fit in a pocket or in the palm of one's hand. Typical examples are mobile phones, smartphones (like the iPhone), palmtops, and handheld computers like the iPad or PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants); Tablet PCs, laptop computers and personal media players like the iPod can also fall within its scope. These devices can be carried around with relative ease and used for communication and collaboration, and for teaching and learning activities that are different from what is possible with other media.

O'Malley et al. (2003) have defined mobile learning as taking place when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies. The Learn2Go project gives Mobile Learning a more detailed definition: a term used to define the type of learning that takes place when the learner has some kind of mobile handheld computer, such as a PDA, Smartphone, tablet PC, games console or other portable device and can make use of the device, it’s connectivity, tools and content to learn at a time and place of the learners choosing.

Mobile learning has a range of attributes that might contribute to its definition:

  • spontaneous
  • personal
  • informal
  • contextual
  • portable
  • ubiquitous (available everywhere)
  • pervasive (so integrated with daily activities that it is hardly noticed)

Compared to e-learning, m-learning has these additional features:

  • more varied and changing locations
  • more immediate interaction
  • smaller, often wireless devices


  • Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2005). Introduction. In A. Kukulska-Hulme & J. Traxler (Eds.), Mobile Learning: A handbook for educators and trainers (pp. 1-6). Londun: Routledge.
  • O'Malley, C., Vavoula, G., Glew, J. P., Taylor, J., & Sharples, M. (2005). Guidelines for Learning/Teaching/Tutoring in a Mobile Environment. Retrieved 7 July, 2009, from


  • W3C on Mobile Learning
    World Wide Web Consortium (2008) outlines best practices for the Mobile Web.
  • PDAs for Teaching and Learning
    Low (2006) provides useful tips for choosing a PDA for teaching and learning.
  • Mobile technology and active learning (pdf)
    Litchfield (2007) provides directions for researching how mobile technology can enhance active student learning. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)
  • Action learning and mobile phones (pdf)
    Ferry (2008) contributes to the professional development of teachers in the use of mobile phones to inform their pedagogy. The focus is on how action learning sets helped preservice teachers (PST) to effectively use mobile phones to augment their understanding of the impact of their teaching of an environmental education unit in local primary schools. (retrieved Jan 20, 2011)

Mobile learning authoring tools

  • 5 Minute Outliner
    Helps you visualize and organize your ideas on your phone. Create outlines, projects and checklists or import them from your PC.