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Designing Mobile Learning

According to the Oxford Internet Institute, the use of smart phones (i.e. mobile phones used for multiple activities: browsing, maps, music, video, etc.) is doubling every two years (.pdf). Designers and educators are recognizing that it’s no longer appropriate to think only of laptop/desktop browsing to access learning materials. Major LMS vendors – such as Desire2Learn (see here) are developing mobile functionality with their platforms. As is generally the case, consideration of the medium and its unique attributes is important. Designing Mobile Learning emphasizes this point from the learners perspective: “Before embarking on creation of a mobile accessible course you will want to understand how the learner’s experience changes when they view your course through a mobile device. Mobile devices are typically used in a very distraction-filled environment. Learners may be on a bus, on a train, at the store, eating lunch, or at work. The mobile device screen is very small. This limits what the learner can see and can make it difficult to read a large amount of content, view graphics, or see moving graphics.” (via Workplace Learning Today)


  1. Clark Quinn wrote:

    Of course, putting a course on a mobile phone is generally NOT what mobile learning is about! It’s not about courses, but more performance support! It’s not trying to place a large amount of content (except if it’s a large quantity of small content and you’re providing nav support for getting to the right bit).

    Friday, November 7, 2008 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  2. Nicola wrote:

    I agree – if we’re not dumping stuff in our brains, then dumping it in phones isn’t going to help someone learn any better. Good design guidelines though – I have found it difficult to find very much usability research on hands and mobile phones, would be useful to see more of it around.

    Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Natalia wrote:

    Autonet Mobile has partnered with Chrysler and other companies to make wi-fi available in cars. It will purportedly be steadier, cheaper, and allow for multiple simultaneous users.

    But will this be a good move? I wonder how responsible mlearning users can be while driving their cars.

    Friday, November 14, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  4. Nancy Munro wrote:

    I spend a great deal of time in the mobile learning space, we will see over time an evolution of learners using mobile devices for performance support and job aids. Keep in mind that the mobile devices can be used differently than computers. It’s easier to record your voice, take pictures with a phone, we need to think about the learning experience in a different way with these devices. It can be used very effectively when well thought out. I recently heard someone statet that using the mobile internet will be bigger than the “Internet” is today— so why not figure out how to take advantage of this explosion of having instant information in a positive way.

    Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  5. Kauffman foundation and Hot Lava Software used mobile learning at public events like baseball stadiums and soccer stadiums to reach 500,000 people with mobile learning related to the science and math of sports. See full details at and a complete white paper.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 5:27 am | Permalink