With electronics devices becoming entrenched more and more into our daily lives, the education industry is also feeling the change. With the education systems evolving day by day, more teachers are turning towards eLearning and Mobile Learning (mlearning) systems. However, what most people do not realize is that eLearning and Mobile Learning are two different systems entirely. Both of those systems have a place in the learning environment if correctly used. Read on to find out how these two are different from each other and which of these systems would be perfect for your needs.

What is eLearning and Mobile Learning?

eLearning is a term used to describe learning which is delivered online. Elliot Maisie is credited with coining the term “eLearning” in 1999. According to Rosenberg (2001) and Wentling et al. (2000), eLearning is the use of Internet technologies to provide a wide range of solutions to enhance knowledge and performance. The teaching can be based either in or out of classrooms. Internet and computers are a major part of eLearning. With increased people having access to personal computers and mobile phones, the masses are accepting eLearning systems. The demand for the eLearning market is expected to reach $275 billion by 2022 and $370 billion by 2026. eLearning is also being increasingly used in the corporate sector especially for training programs like safety & compliance, customer centricity, Diversity & Inclusion, Leadership, corporate culture, technical training to name a few. Besides the corporate sector, eLearning is also being used in other sectors like Pharmaceutical, NGO, Aviation, Telecommunication, agriculture, Metal & mining, government services, and many more.

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Mobile Learning

Alan Kay established the concept of mobile educational devices in the 1960’s. (Najmi and Lee, 2009 as cited in Pollara, 2011). Mobile Learning is an extension of eLearning but with full knowledge of the limitations and benefits of mobile devices. Mobile Learning delivers learning materials using handheld mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, handheld computers, notebooks, or even MP3 players. It allows learners to access their learning materials anywhere, anytime. Since sharing the content can be done instantaneously, the reception of feedback and tips are also instant. Studies have proven that this instant process has increased the exam scores from fiftieth to the seventieth percentile and has also cut the dropout rate in technical fields by 22%. Since mlearning courses are portable and can be delivered through handheld devices, it makes it easy for the learner to learn even while on the go!

Difference Between eLearning and Mobile Learning

Difference Between eLearning and Mobile Learning

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Difference Between eLearning and Mobile Learning


  • eLearning is used for providing in-depth knowledge or teaching learners new skills. It is more formal, structured, and time bound. eLearning courses are designed to be in-depth courses. They usually take the learners from the beginning to the end. These courses aim to stimulate comprehension of the learners and ensure the retention of knowledge. They are used as materials which the learners can refer to completely learn about a subject. eLearning can be used when instructing learners about operating heavy machinery, teaching complex formulae or subjects, carrying out lab tests on the technical side, or training about behavioural or soft skills on the other side.
  • Mobile Learning is used to supply learners with small bits of information that can be accessed from anywhere and at any time. Mobile Learning courses are comparatively brief. They can be used to support ongoing learning processes with additional information. mLearning content can be delivered in the form of videos, games, brief content etc. It can be considered as an on-demand, just-in-time, and context-aware form of teaching.


  • Assessments in eLearning courses are not immediate. There is a significant amount of time between when the individual takes the course and when it is applied.
  • Whereas in Mobile Learning courses, the assessments are immediate. The time span between learning and application of the knowledge is minimal. A learner is required to make decisions and apply solutions immediately while learning through mlearning courses.

Course Duration:

  • eLearning programs are designed to provide detailed information about a topic. It is usually 30 minutes or even much longer. These courses are designed for learners to sit down and study for long periods of time.
  • On the other hand, mLearning courses are designed to be short. They are designed for smartphone users and corporate trainers who have a limited time to learn. They allow the learner to start and stop the courses anytime. These courses are much shorter.


  • eLearning courses are much more suitable for large-screen devices. The large real estate provides learners an incentive to sit down and learn. It also allows for providing detailed information filled with images, videos, audio clips, etc. It usually employs the internet to deliver content to the learners.
  • As Mobile Learning is mainly designed for mobile devices, it can be accessed from anywhere on the go. The small screen size makes it difficult to hold the learner’s attention for long, so the content is usually delivered in small bytes. To create a successful mLearning course, understanding the context is important.


  • Context should be established before the main module in an eLearning course. The learners must be taught the importance of the context that has been established. For example, take a module on the safety measures to be taken before doing a task. eLearning courses will explain why those safety measures are important and the different precautions that should be taken.
  • Mobile Learning is more spontaneous and can only reinforce the context that has already been established. As an example, a mLearning module on the safety measures to be taken before doing a task will have a checklist that can be referred by the technician anytime, anywhere.

What should you choose, eLearning, or Mobile Learning?

While eLearning and mLearning are both useful, they both have their own suitable situations and learning types. Before deciding on one system, you must fully understand the context and goals of learning. The right delivery system will make or break your course.

When specific skills must be taught, eLearning is your best bet. The same goes for studying in-depth about a particular subject. eLearning provides learners with a structured experience that is much more formal. It is best suited for trainings like compliance courses which are compulsory.

Mobile Learning courses can be used as a supplementary course that can be used to further the knowledge of the learners. It is can be delivered through apps or directly through the internet. Since mLearning courses can be accessed anywhere, anytime they can be used as reference tools that can be brought up on-demand.

In the end, it is going to boil down into what kind of experience you are looking for. If you think your course is better suited on a large screen or want total commitment by the learners, eLearning systems are the way to go. If you want your content to be more of a take everywhere, learn anywhere kind of thing, choose mLearning systems.

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