mLearning is Bigger than Mobile Devices. The “m” is for Multiscreen.

In a previous post entitled The “m” in mLearning means More, I made a case for why I believe mobile learning has vastly more potential than eLearning, in no small part because of all the sensor superpowers built into mobile devices.

I’m writing an eBook now on my thoughts on mLearning, and among other things, I’m trying to expand on the definition we currently have on Wikipedia on what mLearning is. Here’s how Wikipedia defines mLearning today:

Any sort of learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies.[1] In other words mobile learning decreases limitation of learning location with the mobility of general portable devices

I fully see the point contributors to this wikipedia article were trying to get across; after all, the mobile revolution is what made us realize there’s a computing paradigm shift taking place, and made us pay attention to the potential of learning through our mobile devices.

mLearning is bigger than mobile devices

However, in my book I argue that our vision would have to be fairly shortsighted to think that mLearning is only about today’s mobile devices.

The mobile revolution brought about an opportunity for us to stop and rethink Learning design in general, and it gave us a reset button in a similar way in which I believe The iPad and iPhone not supporting Adobe Flash is a Great thing for mLearning and also why I believe it still not time to remove the ‘e’ and ‘m’ and all other letters from Learning. All of these things are important because they will help us cross the big chasm that exists between the PC paradigm and the new mobile paradigm.

It’s not about the desktop vs. mobiles devices

I strongly believe the future of Learning design is about creating learning experiences that reach Learners anywhere and at anytime, but it’s especially about experiences that will adapt to whichever screen is at hand at the time.

In other words, it’s no longer about the desktop vs. mobile devices, it’s about the fact that our desktop computers have now been reduced to merely one screen in this ecosystem of screens, that is all around us.

It’s about an ecosystem of screens

The future as I see it, will consist of lots of “screens” everywhere, from our smartphones to our Tablets, from our PCs to our Smart TVs, but also screens when we arrive at the airport and when we board our plane and when we go shopping and in our cars, and I see our personal information seamlessly and fluidly following us from screen to screen via our own personal Cloud.

My point is that it’s not too early to start thinking about how we can design learning experiences that adapt nicely and seamlessly to multiple screens and take full advantage of the uniquely inherent attributes of each screen.

Having said that, as we design for a multiscreen ecosystem, I highly recommend we think mobile-first for all the reasons I outlined in this post.

More on this topic in the eBook I’m working on right now.

Let me know your thoughts and if you like this post, please share with your friends on Social Media.


  • Darrin

    It can also include consideration of screens in the work environment not tied to one individual, such as electronic display boards in hospital units, or multi touch displays in conference rooms, where just in time learning can happen.

    • rjacquez

      Hi Darrin, most definitely. The future looks very bright and it’s an exciting time for all of us in Learning. Thanks for commenting!

  • Very insightful blog..
    Here is a definition you will appreciate:
    mLearning as a “process of coming to know through conversations across multiple contexts among people and personal interactive technologies” (Sharples et al., 2007, 225) with a focus on contexts. The technology to assist in this process includes any kind of handheld mobile devices such as cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones, pads, pods, etc.

  • Audrey Nay

    I totally agree-I am all for combining our devices #COD I am not at all keen on 1:1 of all the same in educational environments 🙂

    • rjacquez

      Hi Audrey, thanks for your comment and I’m with you, we need to stop thinking the iPad is the only device worth targeting. Yes, the iPad is extremely popular, but it’s just one device.

  • Vince

    Hi, I think what you discribe for experience on any type of display, device should more likely be called rLearning (Responsive Learning).

  • jer eck

    RJ –
    Do you have much research on mobility in the corporate/industrial learning space? We are a software and mobile development shop that I need to convince mLearning is a core capability we must offer in a suite of solutions

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