eLearning vs. M-Learning Training: Are They Different?

Designing Digitally


When addressing the training needs of today’s workforce, no discussion is complete without mentioning mobile learning. That being said, mobile or m-Learning can often mean different things to different people. For example, if you log on and complete your eLearning course at home on the weekend, is that mobile learning? Or how about if you’re on the road and take an eLearning course in your hotel’s business center – is that m-Learning? Of course there’s the obvious – taking a course on your tablet or other mobile device while waiting at the airport for your flight. Now that’s m-Learning, right?

The truth is that all of these scenarios and many others are what we’d call m-Learning – training that is delivered on demand, when and where it’s needed.

The idea that eLearning and m-Learning are different things is quickly becoming an outdated belief. It’s more to the point that digitally-delivered training needs to be portable, available and deliverable to a range of devices. In fact, on-demand training is quickly becoming the preferred training delivery method for our modern and mobile workforce.

Adjusting our ideas of knowledge-based content delivery

Delivering training materials and other knowledge-based content to our workforce is the next step in the evolution of performance support. When workers have access to the latest information, techniques, processes and tools, they are empowered and made measurably more efficient. And the best way to ensure this timely content delivery takes place is to make it available on any device they may be carrying. Examples of this type of m-Learning performance support include:

  • A field service or support engineer using his tablet to access an instructional video of a complex process.
  • A training rep pulling out her smart-phone to get an immediate answer to a customer’s question regarding a product feature.
  • A systems operator using his laptop to brush up on an operation process while on the way to a client location.

All of these examples can be described as m-Learning – the consumption of knowledge or training while using a portable or mobile device.

Design considerations for making eLearning mobile-friendly

Of course, along with shifting our thinking about what constitutes m-Learning, we must also adjust the way we design training for consumption on mobile devices. There are certain design considerations that will make training on mobile devices more effective and appealing to learners, especially when viewed on small screens. Here are a few design tips and techniques to keep in mind when designing training that may be accessed using a mobile device.

  • Small segments that teach a single concept are easier to present and to consume on a mobile device. Also remember that less is more when it comes to designing training for small screens.
  • Embedded video can be a valuable learning tool, but remember to fill as much of the screen as possible with the information that is useful to the learner. User experience is of the highest importance when designing m-Learning.
  • Consider the variety of training methods that are available and choose the one that’s best suited for the subject at hand. Reduce the amount of text, and substitute images wherever possible.
  • Use a consistent presentation and navigation style for your m-Learning courses. It can already be a challenge for learners using a small screen – no need to make them search around for what to do next.
  • The use of animation gives training designers much more control over how images and content are presented on mobile devices. Instead of trying to capture an intricate process and present it in video, draw it!

There are many more design considerations that can help to make learning on a mobile device more effective and appealing. The key, however, is to keep the learner in mind at all times, and to remember the reason for creating the training course in the first place.

Here at Designing Digitally, we’re experts at designing and creating training courses that bridge the gap between eLearning and m-Learning. We take the approach that digitally created training should be able to be accessed where and when the learner needs it. Let us know how we can help turn your eLearning efforts into a universal mobile learning success story. Contact us today.