Responsive Mobile Learning vs. Mobile Learning Apps

Designing Digitally


Mobile Learning Apps

Technology has changed the way people learn. The world is increasingly becoming mobile. This year, the total number of mobile phone users all over the world is predicted to pass the 5 billion mark. Mobile devices are not just fancy gadgets anymore. They are a necessity. Thus, having a robust mobile strategy is essential and no longer just optional. It’s not a question of whether mobile should be used for learning or not, but how to use it. There are two options – responsive mobile Learning Management Systems and mobile learning apps. These two options are not mutually exclusive. Each of the options has its advantages and disadvantages to consider.

Responsive mobile learning system

A responsive mobile learning management system or LMS is designed so the content renders well on any screen size, from mobile phones to desktop computers. It allows your employees to access content on any device and seamlessly switch between multiple devices. It offers continuity so they can pick up from where they left without any loss of progress. When you invest in a responsive LMS, you do not need to pay double for the desktop and the mobile version. They are the same product. You do not need to download any app, so your device memory is not cluttered. A responsive LMS will not be too heavy on your wallet and is easy to update and maintain. This option is really useful when you have to reach out to a large audience. You cannot control the type or number of devices they use. With a responsive LMS, you need not worry about this factor as the content will seamlessly adapt to the relevant device. One limitation with the LMS is that your learners cannot access it if they do not have an internet connection.

Mobile learning app

An app is a tool that you can download on your smartphone depending on your operating system – iOS, Windows, or Android. These apps help you deliver training to your employees. Apps need to be installed manually and provide a mobile-optimized user experience. Apps are notably efficient when you are chasing a learning goal. They usually run faster than a responsive LMS and since they are designed only for mobile devices, the user experience is richer. They can tap into your mobile phone components like the camera, microphone, and GPS,  which opens up more possibilities when designing the learning experience. Apps can also send push notifications reminding the learner to finish a lesson or start a new one. The greatest advantage is that you can use them even if you do not have internet. This is, in the truest sense, on-demand learning. However, this option is costlier than using a responsive LMS.

If you opt for a learning app, focus on offering bite-sized training. Learners will lose focus and interest after a few minutes. It is not very comfortable to sit through long sessions on a smartphone. Since apps allow for push notifications, keep pushing short doses of learning nuggets every day to get your learners into a habit. You can even consider adding a social element that encourages knowledge sharing.


Both options have their pros and cons. You need to understand your target audience, their learning needs, and how often they will use mobile learning. You also need to consider your budget and timelines. Another aspect to consider is the offline/online availability. Your learners may not always have connectivity. There is no right or wrong strategy. It is a matter of what your requirement is. If you feel that you can use a hybrid approach and use both, then feel free to do so.

At Designing Digitally, Inc. we specialize in interactive learning that keeps learners involved and engaged. Our instructional designers and gamification specialists use themes, games, stories, and interactions to create unique training experiences. We develop custom mobile learning tools that provide learners an on-the-go training experience to help increase learner retention.

If you are interested in a custom training strategy that will help reach the learning and development goals at your organization, book a free consultation with our experts or request a free quote today.

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