December 2020
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TD Magazine


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

When the term e-learning was coined years ago, it was used to denote education delivered via electronic means. Mobile learning, or m-learning, a subcategory of e-learning, later arrived on the scene as mobile devices—such as smartphones and tablets—became more popular. To say that m-learning simply refers to e-learning delivered on a personal mobile device may ruffle the feathers of L&D literalists who argue that the differences are far greater.

According to the October 2020 SHIFT eLearning blog post "Understanding The Difference Between eLearning and mLearning," the only commonality between the two is that both methods involve digital communication. For L&D professionals, the purposes and uses are quite different. The post highlights keywords for each method to illuminate the differences. "Structured, formal and time-bound" define e-learning, and "on-demand, just-in-time, and context aware" best illustrate the uses of m-learning.


As SHIFT eLearning explains, "neither can wholly take over the functions of the other." And as a tip for instructional designers, m-learning and e-learning can complement each other well as part of a dynamic training program.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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