Mobile Learning



The ADL Mobile Learning Team strives to be the source of information and support for DoD mobile learning initiatives. Effective usage of handheld devices can improve personalized learning and enable learning at the point of need. The Mobile Learning capability supports both the Next Generation Learning Environment and Next Generation Learner of ADL's research and development strategies.

The future capabilities for education and training with ubiquitous access to connected devices cannot be overestimated and will continue to expand.

While mobile learning is not appropriate in all instances, we believe that it should be considered as an important part of the total learning and training support infrastructure. Want to stay up-to-date on Mobile Technology in Learning? Subscribe to our free weekly e-mail newsletter!

Research Summary

The Mobile Learning Team researches, prototypes and tests mobile-capable platforms for their ability to provide enhanced performance and efficient/effective training in DoD. The team reviews, complies and disseminates information and guidance on the use of mobile devices.

Defining Mobile Learning

The ADL Mobile Learning Team believes that a fixed definition of "mobile learning" could limit our strategy and objectives. Many of the existing definitions of mobile learning are usually too learner-focused or too device-focused. A universally accepted definition seems improbable. Therefore, ADL believes that both the learner and the device should be considered to provide a more flexible view of mobile learning for the next generation learner and next generation learning environment. ADL describes mobile learning as:

"Leveraging ubiquitous mobile technology for the adoption or augmentation of knowledge, behaviors, or skills through education, training, or performance support while the mobility of the learner may be independent of time, location, and space."

This description is intentionally generalized to allow for a growing number of mobile learning scenarios as well as future capabilities of new technology and device types. Mobile learning should be viewed as a way to augment the learner through the use of ubiquitous technology that provides access to learning content and information, anytime and anywhere. Unlike other learning technologies, mobile learning is unique in that it can accommodate both formal and informal learning in collaborative or individual learning modes.


Recommended Resources:

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When did ADL get involved with mobile learning?

ADL has followed the mobile learning industry over the years, and in July 2009 began looking at it strategically to meet the learning needs of the military. At this time ADL established the ADL Mobile Learning Team, a team dedicated to development and research in the mobile learning field.

How is mLearning different than eLearning?

In addition to the hardware used for delivery, mLearning differs from eLearning or CBT in that mobile learning generally entails accessing more focused instruction or information more often instantaneously over a shorter duration. It can be personalized and can include data collection or user-generated content. Mobile learning is not about devices, but capabilities. It’s about the experience—not the technology.

It comes in various forms including short courses or microlearning, reach-back to physical course materials in the form of audio or video capture, decision support, job aids or reminders, access to coaches or mentors, study aids, test preparation, updates and alerts, location-based services, or ready access to information and reference. Mobile delivery is a viable option to deploy the spacing effect by delivering learning in short segments over a period of time for improved retention of learning.

Why is mobile learning important?

Mobile learning is important for a number of reasons. It can be inexpensive when compared to traditional learning (and even some forms of e-learning), and it is as far-reaching as there are people with mobile devices. The effective use of mobile technology brings us closer to personalized learning than ever before—the right learning resources and performance aids, to the right person at the right time and place.

What is classified as a mobile device?

ADL defines handheld computing devices as those that are easily carried in a pocket or pouch, turn on instantly, have connection capabilities although not always connected, and have self-sustaining power. The rationale for not including laptops is that no differentiation needs to be made in the development of learning materials because they support the same desktop browsers for delivery of the content. Mobile devices usually require different design principles, entail user interaction, and offer additional capabilities to enhance learning or performance support.

The use of mobile devices for learning or support may not be the best choice in all instances. Factors such as security, ruggedness, connectivity, screen size, input options, and battery life must be considered. In some cases for support at the moment of need, however, it may be the best available option. The penetration of mobile devices within our daily lives can and should be leveraged for new learning opportunities and enhancing military readiness.

Where can I get more information?

Contact Us. Thanks!