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10 Mobile Learning Terms that Every Instructional Designer Should Know

By Guest Blogger Christopher Pappas /  @cpappas 

christopher_papas_circle.pngAre you looking for a quick reference guide that can help you brush up on your mobile learning vocabulary before your next Learning and Design meeting? In this article, I'll highlight 10 mobile learning terms that you may want to commit to memory by the time you walk into the conference room.

Basic Mobile Learning Terms for Instructional Designers

An increasing number of organizations are now relying on mobile learning courses to boost performance and productivity. As a result, e-learning professionals must be willing and ready to deliver mobile-friendly learning content that meets the needs of their company and, ultimately, of their corporate learners. If you're short on time, but still want to add a few of the key mobile learning terms to your vocabulary, then you're in luck.

Here are the top 10 mobile learning words and phrases that every Instructional Designer should know.


1. Responsive LMS

Learning Management System automatically adjusts e-learning course elements, such as the layout and image placement, based on the mobile device that is being used.

For example, online learners who is accessing the mobile learning course on their iPhones® will get the same online experience as someone who is using a laptop. They won't have to worry about large images taking up the entire screen or poor navigation controls. Responsive LMS platforms also carry out all of the basic functions of a traditional system, such as tracking, managing, and launching mobile learning courses.

2. Smartphone

A smartphone is a handheld mobile device performs a variety of functions, from surfing the Web and checking emails to making phone calls.

Smartphones are typically equipped with Wi-Fi, which allows online learners to access mobile-friendly learning courses from virtually any location. One of the defining characteristics of smartphones is that they have the ability to download and run applications.

3. Mobile Application 

Also known as a mobile app, this mobile-friendly software can be downloaded and installed on a tablet or smartphone via an app store or website.

While some mobile applications can help online learners to manage their time more effectively and boost their productivity, other apps give them constant access to social media accounts or allow them to play serious games anywhere, anytime. Android™, Windows® Mobile, and Symbian are just three of the top platforms that support mobile apps.

4. HTML5

HTML5 stands for Hypertext Markup Language version 5. HTML5 is quickly replacing Flash, thanks to the fact that it is compatible with mobile browsers and operating systems.

This coding format is used to build e-learning courses, websites, and a variety of other e-learning content that is accessible via tablets and smartphones. For example, an iPhone® that will not play Adobe® Flash® based presentations, videos, or games will support HMTL5 content. This is why many e-learning professionals are now opting to switch to HTML5 design tools and platforms.

5. uLearning

The U in uLearning stands for ubiquitous, which means that it can be "found anywhere".

Most mobile-friendly learning content falls into the category of uLearning, due to the fact that it can be accessed in all environments, at all times, and it allows for total immersion. In many cases, uLearning is also situated, which means that online learners are able to apply the information and skills in real world contexts.

6. Geolocation

geolocation_elearning.pngGeolocation is the ability to detect online learners' geographical locations, as long as they are connected to the Internet via their mobile devices.

In most cases, online learners will have to switch on the location detection feature on their smartphones or tablets, or allow the website or e-learning course to automatically identify their location. Geolocation offers e-learning professionals the opportunity to deliver customized eLearning content based on the online learners' whereabouts. For example, an online learner in Japan will receive an e-learning course that is in his or her native language, or that features subtitles. This makes it a valuable asset for e-learning localization.

7. Augmented Learning 

Augmented learning refers to information that is available on demand, specifically during an online learner's "moment of need".

Augmented learning is widely used in the corporate e-learning sector. For example, an employee who needs to learn how to complete a task can simply access a tutorial on his or her mobile device. Augmented learning is not to be confused with augmented reality, which deals with virtual reality environments.

8. Digital Native 

A Digital Native is an individual who has grown up with advanced technologies, such as computers, smartphones, and tablets.

The defining characteristic of Digital Natives is that they were born when these technologies were already present. A Baby Boomer cannot usually be classified as a Digital Native, for example, but most Millennials can be. 


BYOD is the acronym for Bring Your Own Device. BYOD is typically part of a comprehensive corporate e-learning program, wherein employees are asked to bring their own smartphones or tablets.

This reduces the training costs for organizations, as they are not required to purchase a device for each of their staff members. The employees can use their devices to online training courses or any other online resources that may benefit them on-the-job. Another benefit of BYOD is that employees have greater access to "moment of need" content, given that they do not have to rely on company-supplied devices to get the information they require.

10. Mobile Browser 

A mobile browser is an internet browser that is designed for smaller mobile screens, such as smartphone displays.

Many smartphones now come with their own built-in mobile browsers, but online learners can also opt for external browsers by downloading them directly onto the device. When designing mobile learning experiences, it's wise to test them on multiple different platforms to ensure that they are compatible and offer a streamlined user experience.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the mobile learning terms that you may want to master as you develop an effective mobile learning strategy. One of the perks of being an Instructional Designer is being able to learn about new ideas and concepts on a continual basis. So, why not seize the opportunity to discover a new mobile learning term every day?

Want to learn more about responsive design? Read the article 7 Tips To Create Responsive Design For Mobile Learning to discover tips that can help you create mobile-friendly courses using responsive design learning management systems.


CLICK TO TWEET: 10 #MobileLearning Terms That Every #InstructionalDesigner Should Know by @cpappas  


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About Author

Christopher Pappas
Christopher Pappas

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