From E-Learning To M-Learning

By all accounts, mobile learning, termed “m-learning”, is on fire as a new method of accessing learning. As seen in the chart below, m-learning may be the learning tool of the future:


I see three trends fueling this new interest in m-learning:

  1. More companies will explore mobile learning as an increasing number of tech-savvy Millennials enter the workforce and insist on the speed and mobility of m-learning. The Millennial generation, or those born after 1981, currently represents 22 percent of all workers. However, by the year 2014 they are expected to represent almost 47 percent of the workforce.
  2. More content will be available via mobile learning. See, for example, the recent news about Intuition:

    “Intuition, a leading provider of learning services to the financial markets, life sciences and government sector, today announced that it has partnered with edCetra Training to jointly market the ability to distribute learning content through mobile devices. The agreement will increase Intuition’s product awareness and provide it with greater penetration of the training and development industry.”

  3. As more mobile devices go mainstream, such as Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, consumers will become accustomed to reading content on a mobile device. Over the last year, sales of Amazon’s Kindle have reached more than a quarter million units.

What do you think? Are you exploring Mobile Learning?

[tags]Mobile Learning, M Learning, Heads of Human Resource, E Learning[/tags]

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About Jeanne Meister

Jeanne C. Meister is a best selling author of three books, internationally recognized consultant and keynote speaker. Jeanne is Partner of Future Workplace, a consulting firm dedicated to assisting organizations in re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing the workplace. Jeanne was recently voted by her peers as one of the 20 top influential training professionals in the United States. Jeanne’s name is synonymous with the establishment and institutionalization of global corporate universities. Jeanne is the author of three books, Corporate Quality Universities and Corporate Universities. Jeanne’s latest book is, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Collins, 2010) is in its 10th printing.No information is provided by the author.


  1. Deb

    I do see all learning taking a dramatic change in the next 10 years. Archaic practices like teaching 30+ students the same thing at one time will a mistake of the past. I’m not saying homeschooling is the answer, not at all, but computers can make it easier than ever to tailor the education to the student.

    Personally, I love to load up my mp3 players with teachings on what I’m learning at the moment. Anyone else? Nerds need not fear-they know not what’s in your ear! (sorry, tough afternoon..)

  2. Agree with the rise of mLearning and await the real boom to happen there in 2009. However, can’t agree completely with the table presented here – specially on the ‘metrics’ and ‘retention’ part. I believe eLearning is as effective as mLearning on those counts – assuming both have been designed well.

    mLearning may be better suited for some subjects/audience/objectives, but so will be eLearning for some others. Essentially we now have more elements to work with in creating a truly blended solution.

  3. Certainly exploring M-learning. The matrix very well represents the strong advantages M-learning has. Another advantage I see from experience is that mobiles are more abundant in some area’s in the world then access to a pc with internet. This means it automatically increases the target audience. This in combination with mobility increases the flexibility of learning and targeted training on demand.

  4. Robert Burnside

    I agree M-learning is on the way. We are currently using Learningguide to provide “training notes” for each training class – immediately after the class participants receive a link on both desktop and PDA’s to the content. Since adult learning research shows particpants lose 80% of what they learned within a week, this gives them long term memory for learning – and it can be updated.
    Robert Burnside

  5. OUr company hasn’t explored Mobile Learning yet, but hope to adopt some of the techniques as they become more mainstream in the coming years.

    Deb brought up a great point about how many of us are already utilizing m-learning with podcasts and mp3s uploaded on our iPods. We’ve taken learning from the classroom to the computer and now to our cell phones, and it has improved with each step. I welcome the progression and can’t wait to see what the future holds.

  6. Jim

    My organization is heavily unionized. Their opinion is that any training must be done on company time or paid OT.

    What is your response to how this time is categorized for FLSA non-exempt?

  7. Donna

    I can see how this can be a very effective way to distribute timely subject matter. However, I hope studies are being done on the effect that doing copious amounts of reading on tiny little screens have on the eyes. For years eye doctors have warned about limiting the amount of time spent staring at computer/TV screens, which at least allowed for adequate font size. With more and more activities being pushed to technology that utilizes small screens, I hope we don’t wind up with generations of people who require glasses with half-inch thick lenses by the time they’re 30!

  8. Interesting article. I agree about the mobile devices. Users will expect a lot of different content on mobile devices. unfortunately I think we still need to see the convergence of a device with long lasting batteries and publishers creating content with the device in mind. The Kindle and iPhone are good starts, but we’re not there yet.

  9. Alix

    People grow, learn, develop best in many different ways. M-learning is a great new option for all of us, but especially for those who prefer to learn this way. But beware the person who refuses to also learn in a room with other people. My guess is….that person still has much to learn about how to be productive and successful in life. Not sure I’d want them on my team helping to solve business problems.

  10. Alix

    Jim’s question about union environments is a good one. My experience is only with non-Unionized business but here are my thoughts:

    Any well led business aims for learning to happen during business hours, when employees are paid to learn. Adding learning time to getting one’s job done is bound to be a challenge for all of us. But most of us know it’s possible and recognize the benefit. It’s true that reality sometimes dictates employee learning take place outside of business hours. For me, so long as this isn’t a frequent requirement and so long as my employer pays for the learning, I don’t expect over time payment. If I stay flexible to employer needs, I’m in a stronger position to ask my employer to be flexible when I need something ‘out of the box’. I know many people who feel the same way.

    I appreciate that this is not how Unions think. But I believe unionized employees would be much happier people if they took more control of their work environment, including the unions. After all, it’s their careers at stake. Employees should initiate these conversations with union leaders and challenge them to find new, constructive solutions that may not always involve money.

  11. Amaru

    I definitely feel m-Learning is the most logical progression in the modern learning domain. The challenge is to come up with the right technical expertise which will help launch interactive and engaging content on the mobile devices. I only hope that, in our desire to make learning more and more accessible, we do not just try to dump heaps of drab digitised pages of information – for if that happens, then m-Learning will lead to a regression to the ’90s e-Learning scene, rather than continue the progressive march to the new learning era of engaging interactive learning with simulations and serious strategy games. m-Learning can be the time-machine – we have to decide whether it takes us back to the past or to the future of radical immersive learning.

  12. Shane

    But what exactly is “m-learning”?

    At the moment, it’s simply video … is that earth-shattering? Just like “podcasts” were the hip thing to be doing 5 years ago, “m-learning” is the hip thing to be doing now. And 5 years ago smart people started saying … “Podcasts are just audio? Oh … but what about visual learners? Or kinesthetic learners? And how do we assess a learner’s retention of the material?”

    When great e-learning can be distributed as Flash-driven pieces on mobile units, then I’ll start moving in that direction. We’re not far from that now, but we’re not there yet.


  13. Shane

    By the way – I disagree very much with the statement in the table that M-learning = high retention. That’s not necessarily the case. Learner retention is dependent on many factors (mostly to do with the design of the material) and not the delivery mechanism!

  14. Jenn

    I disagree with Mlearning being video. At my company we are delivering performance support (EPSS) and short learning courses to our sales forces via the blackberry. While Flash can not be used on the Blackberry we have ways to work around it and can deliver EPSS with simple graphics and courses with interactivity (mult choice, T/F, case studies, action mazes) nearly identical to basic web based courses.

  15. Rod

    mLearning is exactly where the internet generation is headed in the direction of learning. Many social networks such as Facebook are being flooded with mobile device requests. In our current state of education we have to be willing and flexible about taking education to the student and allowing them to learn in ways they feel are comfortable and convenient without compromising the effectiveness of the process. Over at 9thPeriod.com that is one of our major focuses. Making Education Social and bringing it to the learner where they are and when they are.

  16. Karen

    any thoughts on the employer’s responsibility or exposure if they do not provide the MP3′s, iPods, or mobile devices? Does that mean that the unequipped population is adversely affected because the company doesn’t provide the media hardware?

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