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Mobile learning or m learning lets your students learn on-the-go through videos, podcasts and bite-sized lessons. Learn how to use it here!

If you want to make your online courses and coaching part of your students’ daily routine, you need to meet them where they spend the most time – On their smartphones.

The average person now uses a third of their waking life looking at their phone.

With everything from banking to shopping to networking moving to mobile, education is also making the switch.

Mobile learning or m learning lets your students learn on-the-go through videos, podcasts and bite-sized lessons. With m learning, you can make your course content fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

Get ready to explore the world of mobile learning and find out how you could be using this tool to engage your students, boost course completion rates and retain more customers. 

Plus, we’ll take a look at how to convert your existing content to make it suitable for M learning + 3 successful examples of M learning programs that really work.

Skip ahead by clicking the links below.

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What is M Learning: Meaning and Definition

M learning is the use of mobile technology like smartphones for educational purposes. Short for mobile learning, the term M learning encompasses all learning through apps, mobile browsers, tablets and more. 

Over the past 15 years, the use of mobile technology in education has risen enormously as people use their smartphones to both learn and teach remotely. M learning is convenient, quick and ideal for our on-the-go lifestyles and the trend doesn’t look like it’s slowing down soon.

Why use M Learning?

In 2022, we’re officially living in a mobile-first economy. Billions of people across the world now use smartphones every day for tasks ranging from gaming to dating and everything in between.

As an educator, mobile learning makes sense…

  • More time is being spent in mobile apps than ever before with users topping 4.8 hours per day on average. (
  • 92.1% of internet users access the internet using a mobile phone (Exploding Topics)
  • The number of worldwide smartphone users hit 6.6 billion in 2022, a 79% increase from just 6 years ago in 2016 (Oberlo)

Use of smartphones has risen dramatically in the past decade and education hasn’t escaped this global trend. If you’re creating courses for learners, m learning is a top tool to use to keep your students engaged, motivated and satisfied.

Here are some of the benefits of M learning for your students – and your brand.

What are the Benefits of Mobile Learning?

  1. Flexibility

One of the key advantages of m learning is the flexibility it gives your students. Learning is easily integrated into every day, rather than being a special event. 

M learning is self-paced so your students can move through the course content at their own speed, in whatever setting, time zone or schedule that works for them.

  1. Convenience

Students can access your course content from anywhere and at any time. They don’t have to be at home sat in front of their desktop to engage with your content – they can complete modules on their commute, while they’re standing in line for coffee, at the grocery store and more. 

This means learning can move across a range of different environments and social spaces, boosting the convenience and practicality of taking an online course and opening up your course to more people.

  1. Usability

For many people, m learning is easier to use than other forms of learning. It’s instinctive, quick and new knowledge is just a tap or finger touch away. No textbooks, notebooks or keyboard needed.

Anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection can learn, whatever their age, location or background. 

  1. Social Learning

M learning makes it easy for learners to connect with other students, including via social media, your membership platform or through in-app features. 

Students can ask questions, share updates on their progress and start discussions. With m learning, social learning becomes seamless, providing opportunities for collaboration and more personalized learning experiences throughout your course.

  1. Knowledge Retention

There is some evidence that m learning can boost knowledge retention compared to regular learning styles, helping your course content to stick in your students’ heads.

Rather than just watching you teach, with m learning students have a wider range of opportunities to test and apply their knowledge.

  1. Engagement

With the right course design, m learning can also make the learning experience more interesting, dynamic and fun. The mobile learning format opens up new opportunities for gamified elements in your course content, like quick quizzes, competitions and more.

M learning can boost learners’ feeling of achievement, enjoyment and engagement by making course content more accessible with gamification.

  1. Support and Feedback

Many m learning platforms also allow for instant feedback and support, making it easier and faster for students to receive feedback on their work, raise issues and get answers. This helps boost learner motivation, confidence and understanding of the content.

  1. Habit Formation

For some students, m learning could also make it easier to form a routine or learning habit. With mobile learning, all your course content is in your students’ pockets, they just have to pick up their phone and log in.

What are the Disadvantages of Mobile Learning?

While M learning has a lot of benefits, there are some disadvantages too. Here are 5 disadvantages of mobile learning to watch out for.

  1. M Learning Design

Like any online course, the success of m learning is dependent on course design. Course creators need to consider the learning experience on a mobile device, including user interfaces and the course structure.

  1. Distractions

One of the main drawbacks of m learning is distractions from other smartphone apps. There are a lot of things competing for students’ attention on their phones, including social media, messaging apps, emails and more. 

To catch and hold your learners’ attention, you need to make your course content bite-sized and interactive.

  1. Technology

Learners might experience barriers to m learning as a result of their mobile devices, including limited memory, low storage size, poor battery life and small screens. There might also be concerns about security and privacy in m learning applications that could put some students off.

  1. Connectivity

Some learners might struggle with connectivity issues on their smartphones due to a lack of data or broadband access. You can combat the issue by adding downloadable resources and transcripts for students to access even when they’re offline.

  1. Accessibility

Like any type of learning, m learning can include accessibility issues for some learners. When you’re designing your mobile learning course, it’s important to make sure that you take Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles into account to make sure your course content is available to everyone, no matter what their learning needs are.

What’s the Difference Between eLearning and M Learning?

It’s easy to get mixed up between eLearning and m learning, especially as there’s some overlap. If you’re not sure what the difference between eLearning and m learning is, here are 3 things to help you tell them apart. 

  1. Internet vs Mobile

ELearning is a form of education where teaching and learning takes place online, via the internet using an electronic device.

M learning is education where teaching and learning takes place via mobile devices specifically, including smartphones and tablets.

  1. Complex vs Simple Design

As eLearning can take place on any electronic device, including desktop PCs and laptops, elearning design tends to be more complex and can include lots of different elements on the screen.

M learning uses mobile devices for learning so the course design is usually simpler, with quick, straightforward navigation and a minimalist user interface that makes it easy to follow on a small screen. 

  1. Longer vs Shorter Modules

The module size can also vary with eLearning modules being longer and more in-depth than mobile learning courses. The average eLearning lesson can last anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes each.

On the other hand, M learning favors shorter, concise modules that are easy for learners to complete quickly. Modules tend to be from 3 to 5 minutes long on average.

Now you know the difference between eLearning and m learning, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use m learning in the classroom.

How can M Learning be Used in the Classroom?

Whether you’re teaching online or in person, m learning can be used to enhance the learning experience for your students, making lessons more agile, collaborative and interactive. 

Here are 4 ways M learning can be used in the classroom and how to incorporate m learning into your lesson plans.

  1. Collaboration

M learning is a brilliant tool for increasing collaboration in the classroom. Whether you’re teaching in a virtual classroom or on-site, mobile technology can be used to facilitate group discussions, allow peer-to-peer feedback and promote problem-based learning.

For example, you could use m learning as part of a Think-pair-share exercise. 

This is a really effective collaborative teaching strategy, here’s how it works: 

  • Start students off with a discussion prompt or problem
  • Give students time to briefly work on a response
  • Group individuals into pairs and give them a chance to discuss their responses together
  • Ask pairs to present their discussion for the larger group

M learning can facilitate this exercise by using an app like Google Docs or Google Slides to write up and present responses from the different groups of pairs. Pairs can share their research and ideas with one another using a messenger app or your community space. You can also highlight points you want to build on or add comments to the shared document.

This is just one way you can use m learning to mix up your teaching in a classroom setting and encourage students to work collaboratively.

  1. Gamification

When you’re designing your lesson plans, you can use m learning to add gamified elements to your lesson content. Gamification uses game elements like rewards, leaderboards and storytelling to make learning more fun and motivate learners. 

In a classroom context, you can use gamification to wake up your students’ brains and hold their attention, while also encouraging more collaboration.

For example, open up questions to the group and get them to answer via an online quiz or survey. The answers can then be collated instantly and you can see the class results, creating opportunities for discussion. Some students can be selected to explain their reasoning for their answers and encourage debate.

Gamified elements can also be enhanced by adding a time limit or letting students unlock rewards for taking certain actions. These are all ways to use m learning to make the classroom experience more enriching.

  1. Independent Research

With m learning, the internet is right at your students’ fingertips. This can be a great way to encourage them to do independent research to learn more about a topic or discussion point. Instead of being just an instructor, you become a facilitator, encouraging students to learn through exploration and inquiry.

You could make online research a solo or group activity. Students can then present their findings back to the class or use it as part of an assignment.

For example, if you’re teaching a course on building a personal brand, set your students the task of finding 3 brands with a strong brand aesthetic or voice that they admire. Then ask some students to present their results to the class along with their reasons for choosing them. Have the rest of the group vote for their favorites with a class poll.

  1. Individualized Learning

The beauty of m learning is it can also be a tool for personalizing the learning experience for your students. We all learn differently and m learning gives you the opportunity to open up different learning channels for students, including video content, audio content, infographics, animations and more.

For students who struggle to learn in a traditional classroom environment, m learning can create new avenues for learning and encourage more students to engage with your course content.

For example, you could give your students a choice of what type of task or assignment they want to complete at the end of each lesson. Choices could include taking an online quiz, finding a case study online, writing a short essay or designing a downloadable poster. 

3 Top Examples of M Learning Done Well

Check out these 3 top examples of m learning in education to inspire you and see how they make learning easy and accessible for their students.

  1. Khan Academy

A non-profit education organization, Khan Academy offers a huge library of free videos and exercises for learners to study math, science, computing, history and more through their mobiles. With millions of users of all ages worldwide, Khan Academy is one of the top online educational tools for students and teachers.

Their M learning app is specially designed for personalized learning with an individual learning dashboard for each student, extra quick practice tests and easy sharing features that make it simple to learn on the go.

How Khan Academy uses M learning

  • Video lessons for straightforward learning
  • Quick practice tests with instant feedback
  • Personalized course dashboard to track lessons
  1. Duolingo

One of the best-known language learning apps around, Duolingo is a great example of an m learning program that really delivers. With a whopping 40 million active users in 2020, Duolingo tops the charts as the most downloaded education app in the world.

Loved by learners around the world for making learning a language fun, Duolingo utilizes gamification to make its m learning app easy-to-use and engaging for students.

How Duolingo uses M learning:

  • Instant feedback at every step
  • Gamified elements with rewards, leaderboards and ‘streaks’
  • Bite-sized lessons that take minutes to complete
  1. Ted-ed

With a mission of spreading great ideas, TED-Ed is a mobile learning platform that’s designed to make it easy for users to collate and share lessons, videos and discussions. Learners can get personalized recommendations for new lessons and a ‘Surprise Me!’ feature that gives instant inspiration for what to watch next.

The TED-Ed app also allows users to learn anywhere with features that let you save videos and access them offline.

How TED-Ed uses M learning:

  • Create and share lessons with discussion points for other users
  • Sync videos across devices to keep track of learning
  • Save content and watch offline anywhere

6 Tips for How to Adapt your Course for M Learning

You don’t need to be a multi-million dollar education company to make use of m learning for your students.

Whether you’re using m learning as a coach, educator or course creator, here are 5 tips to make the switch to mobile easy and help you create the best course around!

  1. Make Lessons Bite-sized

The golden rule for creating m learning content is to make it bite-sized.

The average duration of a mobile session is around 20 minutes, ranging from 5 minutes for banking to 20 minutes for casual gaming. 

If you’ve ever tried to read a giant article or watch a movie on your phone, you’ll know how tough it is to concentrate on a small screen for long periods.

That means it’s a good idea to utilize micro learning principles to break your content into chunks. The general rule is to limit each lesson to 5 minutes long. 

If your m learning content is too long, your students won’t complete it. It’s as simple as that.

  1. Repurpose your Existing Content

You don’t need to worry about starting from scratch when it comes to creating an m learning course. 

All the content from your existing course can be repurposed for m learning, you just need to think about how to translate your current content into something mobile-friendly. 

Remember, M learning content should be short and sweet. 

Here are some ways you can repurpose your existing content for mobile:

  • Break training videos down into shorter clips
  • Turn text heavy content into bullet points or infographics
  • Translate long assignments into quizzes and quick tests

If you’re not sure where to start, check out inspiration from other course creators to see how they use m learning to transform their course content.

  1. Add More Video and Audio Elements

One learning format that works really well for mobile learning is video and audio.

Use videos and podcasts to translate complex concepts into content that’s easy to absorb when learners are out and about.

If your students are on the train or walking in the park, they’re much more likely to watch a video or listen to a podcast than read a full lesson.

For more tips on how to record videos that your students will love, check out this guide.

  1. Build a Course Community

If you don’t already have one, it’s a really good idea to create a course community to enhance the m learning experience for your students.

A course community adds a social element to your course, giving students the chance to collaborate on course content, share their successes and discuss key concepts and issues.

Use your course community to:

  • Celebrate student achievements and milestones
  • Set bonus challenges and competitions
  • Share results from class surveys, polls and quizzes
  • Encourage user-generated content (UGCs)
  • Welcome new learners to the group

For more help with setting up a community for your course, check out this guide with 7 steps to build an online community.

  1. Improve Student Success with Onboarding

To help get your students up and running with m learning in record time, make sure you spend time on customer onboarding.

Create onboarding videos to show students how to access your course content in an m learning format. You can do walk-throughs to demonstrate exactly what features are available to them and how they can make the most of your course.

You can also open up your community space for students to ask questions about m learning. If they have any problems accessing your content, they can post questions online to be answered by other students or by you and your team.

  1. Use Thinkific to Offer Your Courses on Mobile

Thinkific’s white-labeled solution, Branded Mobile is designed to seamlessly integrate into your audience’s existing routines. Making it easier for users to learn and engage in their enrolled courses and communities all on their own schedule, enhancing their learning and brand experience.

With Branded Mobile by Thinkific, our trusted team of experts will take care of creating and managing. your white-labeled app for your course and community, so you can focus on growing your business.

Use M Learning to Take your Course to the Next Level

If you’re creating a course this year, M learning is a no brainer. Your students are using smartphones – so you need to be too.

Get your app today to reach your audience on mobile!

Screenshot of Thinkific Branded Mobile App, with text, "Stand out with a custom branded mobile app that we'll build for you."