Mobile Learning

© Flickr / Dan Zen

Mobile learning refers to using mobile electronic devices to facilitate teaching and learning processes, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Mobile learning is often “content-light” and is thus used more as a tool that helps learners access audio materials, send and receive text messages, respond to quizzes, participate in instant chat, make brief notes, or reflect on their learning.

Mobile learning eliminates the need to have special computer rooms and offers teachers full freedom to let students work with online applications at their own pace.

The devices used in mobile learning are commonly:

  • Mobile phones and smart phones
  • Personal listening devices such as mp3/mp4 players
  • Lightweight, portable computers such as tablets, netbooks and small laptops
  • Games consoles,
  • E-book readers, and electronic dictionaries.

Devices are increasingly becoming multi-functional and thus may be used to fulfill a variety of professional, social, and educational tasks. Equally  important  are  the  networks  and  infrastructures  which  enable  the  devices  to  be connected  to  one  another  and  to  the  Internet.


In the classroom

  • Students using handheld computers or smart phones to look up information during lectures
  • Students using handheld voting systems in a classroom or lecture room to make decisions and gather information
  • Students using mobile devices in the classroom to enhance group collaboration among students and instructors.
  • Instructors using mobile devices to gather information and get “real-time” evaluation data.

Outside of the classroom

  • The mobile phone (through text SMS notices) can be used for distance education or with students whose course requires them to be highly mobile
  • Podcasting consists of listening to audio recordings of lectures, and can be used to review live lectures and to provide opportunities for students to rehearse oral presentations. Podcasts may also provide supplemental information to enhance traditional lectures
  • Using the communication features of a mobile phone as part of a larger learning activity (e.g.: sending media or texts into a central portfolio, or exporting audio files from a learning platform to your phone)
  • Learning in museums or galleries with handheld or wearable technologies


  1. Mobile Learning for Expanding Educational Opportunities
    UNESCO Bangkok
    . This report is a compilation of the presentations of the “International Workshop on Mobile Learning for Expanding Educational Opportunities” held in Tokyo, Japan, from 16 to 20 May 2005. 

  2. Mobile learning for quality education and social inclusion
    UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education
    . Policy brief for educators and education policymakers 

  3. The Motill project
    European Union 

    Mobile Technologies in Lifelong Learning: best practices”, is a one year project. It is funded by the European Commission within the National Lifelong Learning Strategies (NLLS) – Transversal programme

  4. Institutional Responses to Emergent Technologies
    Joint Information Systems Committee. 

    JISC is funded by the UK HE and FE funding bodies to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of ICT to support education and research. JISC manages and funds 202 Projects within 31 Programmes. Outputs and lessons are made available to the HE and FE community.

  5. International Association for Mobile Learning 

    IAmLearn is a membership organization to promote excellence in research, development and application of mobile and contextual learning. It organizes the annual mLearn international conference series and manages the website to collate and disseminate information about new projects, emerging technologies, and teaching resources.