ELearning vs MLearning – What’s the Difference?

Some might assume eLearning and mLearning are synonymous – after all, they involve computerized learning that takes place beyond the classroom. Yet there are important differences to keep in mind.

Both eLearning and mLearning have their place in the work environment. ELearning and mLearning can share similar elements, but there are variances. This chart gives you a quick glimpse of the differences.




Goal –       Instant accessibility

–       Quick knowledge transfer

–       Understanding/retention of specific skills

–       In depth knowledge of subject

Structure More flexible, informal Formal structure
Medium Mobile phones and tablets Computer or laptop
Design –       Easy navigation

–       Short micro-lessons

–       Pictures, videos, checklists

–       Detailed info and graphics

–       Media, videos, game-based learning

Length 3 – 10 minutes 10 – 40 minutes
Access Anytime, anywhere At a static location, desk


Many employers are shifting toward mobile learning. According to ATD (2015), 35% of companies surveyed have aggressively implemented mLearning programs. And according to CLO Magazine, one in three learning managers delivers compliance and technical skills training to mobile devices. The Ambient Insight Mobile Learning Forecast for 2014 – 2019 predicts by the end of 2019, mobile learning revenues will more than double.

This shift to mobile learning will continue to increase, as companies discover the positive impacts. Click here to discover more eye-popping statistics about mLearning.

Some of the benefits of mLearning include:

  • Provides easy access – anytime, anywhere access equals more convenience
  • Adapts to fit various learning styles – learners read, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and research online
  • Encourages self-paced learning – each learner understands content at a different pace, so a course can be visited as often as needed
  • Boosts participant engagement – engages the learner on a digital and social level beyond the workplace environment

However, this shift to get onboard with mLearning won’t replace eLearning. Some of the limitations of mLearning are:

  • Connectivity issues – if a learner hits a Wi-Fi dead zone, information could be lost
  • Limited information – not all smartphones have optimal screen sizes for learning
  • Device compatibility – not all content will download properly to every device
  • Distractions – apps, phone calls, texts and other disruptions can interfere with learning

Different content will fit the mobile delivery system better than traditional eLearning, and other training content will suit the eLearning environment better than the mLearning sphere. It takes a sharp content creator to identify the differences. We’ll post another blog shortly about what types of content transfer well to the mLearning format.