Mobile learning: pros and cons

With more than seven billion mobile devices being used worldwide (, 271 million monthly active Twitter users, 78% of whom are on mobile (, 1,28 billion monthly active Facebook users, 70 million people on Pinterest and 200 million on Instagram, it’s no wonder mobile learning has become quite the buzz word in the learning industry! In fact, it’s a little surprising that mobile hasn’t boomed already.

Mobile learning, or M-learning as it’s also known, refers to any learning where the user is not required to remain in a predetermined location (Tyagi, 2013). It’s quite a vague definition, but this is a new area of learning and it’s changing as quickly as new platforms are sprouting. What remains the same though is the fact that mobile learning has huge potential for learning and instructional designers, and for companies in terms of reaching and engaging learners.

While M-learning offers a range of potential benefits, there are some negatives aspects that need to be addressed before mobile learning can take off. Let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of mobile learning:

Pros of M-learning

  • Offers a rich and dynamic learning experience due to the rapid evolution of mobile devices
  • Can also be used as an offline tool where learners complete courses and information is sent back to the organisation’s LMS when learners reconnect
  • The variety of devices available enable innovation and allow people to rapidly access digital information
  • Provides new content on demand
  • Technology-rich activities, with elements of gamification, can sustain high levels of engagement for the younger generations (but on the flip side, it may prove to be an obstacle for technophobes)

Cons of M-learning

  • Despite the number of mobile devices in use around the world, there is currently a very low level of mobile-device use to access courses and learning activities
  • Almost no pure learning apps have been designed for mobile devices (although, this is more of an opportunity than an actual disadvantage!)
  • Organisations may not be completely ready for mobile learning. Many organisations still have a classroom-based, instructor-led paradigm for learning and are resistant to introducing even e- and blended learning to their programmes
  • There is growing concern around negative effects, such as low assessment scores. Researchers have cited a heavy cognitive load resulting from improper learning design as a potential cause

At Ceed Learning, our approach is to partner with our clients to leverage technology-enabled learning and create high-impact blended-learning solutions that are available on demand. We believe that mobile learning holds a lot of promise for just-in-time learning solutions as well as performance support tools that users can access when needed.

In its most basic form, mobile devices offer users access to social media platforms where they can engage with subject matter experts in real time, as needed. This alone is a shift from more traditional means of obtaining assistance, where an appointment may have needed to be made and a venue organised for a face-to-face meeting to be scheduled.

We’re really exciting about the potential mobile learning has for South Africa in particular and believe it can play an instrumental role in narrowing the current skills gap in various industries. It’s certainly an area we’ll be keeping a close eye on, and slowly but surely dipping our toes in to. Watch this space!



Chu, Hui-Chun, 2013. Potential Negative Effects of Mobile Learning on Students’ Learning Achievement and Cognitive Load—A Format Assessment Perspective. Journal: Education Technology and Society.

Ivec, Stephanie, 2014. The top trends in mobile learning for 2014.

Masie, Elliot, 2013. The future of mobile learning.

Tyagi, Saurabh, 2013. How mobile learning works.

West, Darrell, 2013. Mobile Learning


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