What is mobile learning, or m-learning?

Watch Chris talk about how he uses mobile devices in class, then leave a comment below if you have similar ideas.

Related resources:

Mobile pedagogy for English language teaching: a guide for teachers - Publication to aid teacher-thinking when designing mobile language learning in and beyond the classroom

Integrating ICT: The case for mobile - Online conference presentation by Gavin Dudeney discussing the potential of mobile learning

If this video is not available for viewing in your location, please click here


Submitted by laurendamas on Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:27


Hi Rob and Chris

Thank you Chris for this interesting and informative video on how you use mobile learning in your class. Will show it to students; it will be good to listen to their ideas on the use of mobile devices as a useful learning tool.

Best wishes



Submitted by neilballantyne on Thu, 03/24/2011 - 14:07


Great introduction Chris.

Don't forget the British Council's apps for learners of English can be found on our learner's site at http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/mobile-learning or downloaded from app stores for Android, iPhone, Ovi and bada.



It's really interesting and creative to use the mobiles to teach Eng. In fact in my school the Ss are not allowed to use their mobiles during the lesons, I am an exception to this of course :)) So tomorrow I am going to take my daughter's mobile, which I have just bought as a present for her, to use in my class for speaking activities. I believe Ss will find it really enjoable. The most difficult thing for me is to make them speak English confidently and fluently, instead they speak in Turkish and then say "I 'm sorry Mrs!" , but tomorrow everything will be different! Thanks to British Council...Thanks to Chris...It will be my victory tomorrow :))

Submitted by misterribles on Thu, 03/24/2011 - 21:27


We  are used to telling our students to turn their mobile phones off, but with this we are going to take advantage about using it like a learning strategy! well done Chris and mate!!

I am going to share this great strategy with my colleagues!!

Thank you!!


Submitted by ong che r on Fri, 03/25/2011 - 05:43


Interesting video. Could I ask if the students record themselves one by one (so the classroom's quiet) or do they do it at the same time? Also, what sort of feedback or follow-up activities can you do after they have recorded themselves?

Hi everyone.

Thanks for your comments.
I usually get students to do it all at the same time - if they don't shout it works fine. It'd be embarrassing for students to do it with others listening, I think.

As for follow-up - it depends on the type of speaking they do - if it's for pronunciation, you can point out what they need to work on & get them to record themselves several times to hear if there's any improvement. If it's grammar / vocab - you can get them to listen for how they can improve and then do it again.

On the point of privileged students - for many activities your students don't need expensive phones - even cheap ones often have cameras and voice recorders.

Does anyone else have any ideas for how to use m-learning in class, especially in less-privileged settings?


Hi Chris,

I am an active training professional here in the Philippines and given our set up (not in all places can you find an internet connection) and geography (we have 7,000+ islands) it is very challenging to manage learning.

I was once tasked to manage the development and training of staff/teachers (for one of the schools here) scattered around the country and what I found very useful is using a single USB drive that would allow multiple users (up to 10 teachers).  This would contain ALL their materials (videos, case studies and even exams) and then they could just synch this up to the server.

It worked like a charm!!!  Distance learning solved and I was able to manage the learning of multiple staff at multiple locations.

Should you wish to know my provider (for the mobile USB), do contact me or post a reply.

Thanks and I hope this helps!



Ho Chris! For mobile phones with only call and text capabilities, SMS is the best solution. Teachers can text questions or any messages and elicit responses from the students via SMS as well. In this way, you can check the student's grammar and writing skills :)

Submitted by bonbone on Fri, 03/25/2011 - 13:55


We're telling our pupils to turn off their mobiles in the classes, but this is an interesting activity, not just for them but even for ourselves. The only problem here in Albania is that not all the pupils afford to buy a mobile phone because they are very expensive. Anyway, it's still perfect!

Submitted by ursulahd on Fri, 03/25/2011 - 22:51


It's just amazing how we can use technology in our classes to avoid boredom or routine. Unfortunately in my school my headmaster has simply forbidden cellphones, Ipods even MP3s, This is what I was looking for. I had the idea but didn't know how to apply it.

Thanks Chris for this awesome, marvelous and very clear video. You really made my day.


Submitted by daniela bibu on Sun, 03/27/2011 - 08:27


Congratulation for the nice idea of combining new tech. with teaching Eng. For sure my students will be happy to use their phones in class. 

 Congrats for the amasing idea. It´ll be a revolucion in my classroom in a public school in Rio de Janeiro. My students will be more motivated to learn something that they could use in their everyday life. I´m thinking of using the mobiles to take some pictures of the places nearby and make posters ilustrating their names in English to show to our entire school. Thanks for the idea of using phones in the teaching process, it inspired me to do more.


Submitted by chrisbaldwin (not verified) on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 07:43

In reply to by mda_amanda


Hi all

You might be interested in this free course in m-learning:


It features m-learning in both the North & South (i.e. developed & developing countries) so should be interesting for those of you with fewer resources, as well as colleagues in places like Hong Kong, where almost everyone has an iPhone or similar.



Submitted by virnapalmucci on Mon, 03/28/2011 - 15:32


Hello Chris

thanks for your video, very interesting.

Nobody can deny that any technology used in class stirs up quite a lot of interest in education, particularly from the part of young learners, considering how much technology pervades their lives.

I am keen to exploit mobile phones in class, and besides all the good suggestions you make, I would add the use of text messages. Understanding how words and sentences can be abbreviated and still make sense is quite a skill. For instance any English speaker would recognise 'pls' but 'plea' would cause a problem. You actually need to understand the language quite deeply to be able to abbreviate it in a meaningful way. Students can text each other or the teacher, it can be for a 'real' purposes, or for practise only. Of course you need to give a tight word limit to test their 'abbreviating skills'.

Another thing is the use of interactive (free) language games (or brain-gym) such as 'Luminosity' which can be played on a mobile. Students can be given 5 or 10 minutes in calss to play a specific game and see who gets the highest score, or see if they can imrove their own score from the previous game. In this case mobile phones replace the use and need of desktops. This can also be a very powerful encouragement to carry on playing those games outside class time (it can even be part of their homework).

Another thing more or less related to m-learning. The use of podcasts to give formative feedback. This is used more and more in Higher Education in the UK. After an assignement a teacher can record 1 minute general/class feedback and then 1 minute for each student. You need to send it to them, via email (I am not sure you can do this by text). Students can listen to the feedback over and over again (on their phones) and can be asked to do something with it (discuss it with the teacher, write a response, tell a friend etc...). It is a useful excercise in many ways and helps develop their meta-language skills. The technology needed is surprisingly simple and students seem to love listening to their teacher tell them about their learning. It can replace 1-2-1 tutorials that are quite time-consuming. This will not apply to all settings, but it can be useful for larger groups at more advanced levels, where students produce a lot of writing and writing their feedback can be very time-consuming. If you want to comment on both form and content podcasts are very useful. And you can say lots more in 1 minute than you can write...

Anybody tried it?




Submitted by Chris_Fry_Barcelona on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 13:56


I don't get them to listen to their recording in class, but I hope they do out of class.

They either send these recordings to me via Bluetooth in the classroom or by email. I then try to post them on www.edmodo.com together with some very brief pointers about pronunciation or grammar. I try to listen to the recordings only once to keep the time to a minimum.

I would really like my students to send me mp3 files instead of the .amr, m4a, mp4 files they send me, all of which require conversion using Audacity. With this in mind I hope to get them to start using apps that record mp3 files, or maybe using Vocaroo, SoundClouds, Cinch, Audioboo or even Fotobabble.

I am also keen to get more of them to start recording themselves out of class particularly using Vocaroo, which is easy to use from a computer. I don't know if it can be used from a mobile.

Today we are going to work with video for the second time as they act out scenes from the DVD that accompanies New Englsih File Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate



Submitted by zahira2050 on Tue, 03/29/2011 - 15:50


It is amazing to combine tech and education, i think my students will love this method.

Submitted by ashrough on Wed, 04/06/2011 - 17:15


I appreciate your ideas about using cell phones in class, however the problem lies in the fact that some 'naughty' students might resort to mischievous acts like exchanging porn videos or recording a teacher while she's busy doing something, etc. Therefore, cellphones might have drawbacks more than anything else.

Just an opinion

Thank you


Hi Achraf,

Classroom management is definitely an issue with any activity, and those using mobile phones are no exception. Students need to understand the responsibilties of using technology and the consequences of any behaviour that breaks school rules.

These issues are not restricted to cellphones. Pornography has existed in anologue (e.g. magazine) format for a lot longer than in its digital format, although of course the digital formats mean it is much more wide spread. We must ensure we work with our students, especially children, to responsibly use the technologies they have access to in and out of class and help them develop into principled digital users.


Hi Achraf,

You make some very good points here regarding classroom management. As the pupils have this technology anyway if they are going to be 'naughty' they can do it out of class. In class if they have there phones on the desk rather than hiding them under the desk we as teachers can control them much better.

Here are some resources which you might find useful, related to mobile and e learning safety issues:


I hope these are helpful



Submitted by edushi on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 11:37


In our school mobile phones are not allowed.It's really funny and effective to use it in the classroom.In this way the students aren't going to use them wrongly but for their benefit.Firstly I was SURPRISED but now I am encouraged to use them.   

Submitted by elliecor05 on Sat, 04/16/2011 - 14:08


It is just great what you can do with technology, i have not thought of the ideas given in this video... Thank you very much for this great input...

Submitted by korila on Sun, 04/17/2011 - 13:53


thank you for this new idea  using mobile activities    Ihope it will  be useful.

Submitted by maria ines ra on Fri, 04/22/2011 - 23:40


I think the use of the mobile phone for learning is very important. Students take them to school and it's an opportunity to motivate them. Congratulations !!!

Submitted by R.Al-Zubaidi on Sat, 04/23/2011 - 07:30


It is a great idea. Knowledge is power and this new means of education can increase power to the individuals and nations that impliment it. Raad 

Submitted by Enid Steals on Tue, 04/26/2011 - 19:56


Great video, really interesting and the students seem engaged. I do something similar with new classes sometimes. I ask them to get out their phones and choose a picture to tell their partner about. Then you can ask the partner to relay the information to the rest of the class, or get them to complete a survey of the class (how many people chose a picture of their friends/ a recent holiday/ night out/ family member) etc, or talk about technology in their lives and how they can use it to improve their English. It's personal and quite memorable and there's lots of jumping-off points (although continuing the lesson by introducing the school's "no mobiles" policy can evoke wry smiles among some students...)

Submitted by Tamar Chikhladze on Sun, 05/01/2011 - 12:21



Thank you, Chris, for this video, it's very interesting for me to find out this fonction of phones, good! I'd like to use it in my class and enjoy with my st-s.

Submitted by jzradolfo on Sat, 05/07/2011 - 20:50


Mobile learning is a useful tool,because it is very common  that students bring one mobile to the classroom.And if we use some material of them,they will feel part of the subject.

Submitted by Roberta Buarque on Thu, 05/19/2011 - 01:43


Chris I enjoyed a lot your idea.I´ve been doing it in my classroom.After seeing your video I´ve got one more idea using pictures to do speaking activity.

I usually ask to my students to interview teachers and also record it when they go back to the classroom they listen to the interview and write a short paragraph and report it to the group.

Submitted by virnapalmucci on Thu, 05/19/2011 - 10:51

In reply to by Roberta Buarque


Hello Roberta,

I very much like your idea of interviewing teachers. Mobile phones have video or audio recoring options, so one can exploit either, at different times.

Students can also interview others such as friends/family members and then a variety of activities can be set to use such recordings in class.


Submitted by Mohar Sarkhel on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 14:40


Very good and practical ideas...shall use them in my class.

Submitted by rojawi on Mon, 05/30/2011 - 00:01


I had a private student who was blind.  I recorded all or parts of our lessons and emailed him the audio file.  He found it very useful.  I have also recorded student presentations which they give to the class.  The student can take the file as a record of their abilities at that time, and I can take the recording and plan future lessons based on their errors.

Submitted by Roberta Buarque on Sun, 06/12/2011 - 02:45


I´ve been doing a research on mobile learning and I am reading a book about this theor.y The autor is Nobert Pachler and he is coming to Brazil in september to participate in a congress of technology.I´ve been using activities in my classroom with mobile and It´s been a success.

Submitted by Wario on Fri, 09/16/2011 - 20:17


We got to think more about these tactics that most of the times are underestimated when they can be a quite interesting way to get our students attention, interest and commitment.

Good Stuff, Thanks a lot Chris.

Submitted by me3rag on Sun, 09/18/2011 - 11:59


It's amazing to use technology in classrooms like that. students feel funny and enjoy using these techniques.

Submitted by tmartin on Wed, 10/12/2011 - 18:24


Thank you for this great idea. Students, specially younger ones, enjoy just the idea of having their mobile in their hands, and so using it during the lesson in order to learn will be great both for them and for us as teachers and they will become more interested in what they are doing. I really think it is a good idea.

Submitted by MaxCastro on Fri, 11/04/2011 - 05:10


I enjoyed this video, this is an interesting method, i like when students show their own pictures and explain them, i think this method gives students the confidence they need to learn some vocabulary.

Submitted by Rosine on Tue, 11/15/2011 - 09:26


Thank you Chris for this interesting and informative video on how you use mobile learning in your class. Will show it to students.

                                Best wishes

Submitted by Ritel BK on Fri, 11/25/2011 - 22:43


It would be very helping to use mobiles in class for learning english ,but most students prefer using their mobiles just for listening to music or talking to their friends.

Submitted by evelyn.lloyd on Thu, 11/01/2012 - 17:39


My students, when instructed to interview tourists in English while on a school trip in the north of their own country, put their phones to good use and made videos of the experience which they were able to watch while writing up their reports. Thank you for your ideas for phones in the classroom!

Submitted by senju (not verified) on Thu, 03/27/2014 - 11:10


SMS API I've always enjoyed reading your blog regarding mobile and this particular post was especially good. Thanks for sharing it.

Submitted by nguyen_la67 on Thu, 07/31/2014 - 07:52


How can I use this method in my classroom because in my country it's against the school rules to use mobile phones in the class. After watching this video I really like it if I can use this way to teach my learners! It actually motivates students and makes them feel excited when using a wide range of useful apps on mobile phones! Thanks a lot!

Submitted by Ephrem Palathingal on Tue, 02/16/2016 - 13:23


The learning methods will keep changing as like a child asking,teacher...I cannot understand the way you teach, teach me the way I can understand. M learning has been introduced to commercial institutions to replace the massive network training colleges. The expenses and time are slashed; instead nuggets to study, stream down to their mobiles. schools too, will leverage saving time and money. Misusing mobiles is an age related issue, to be psychologically addressed.

Hello, I've check the video link and it is working fine here. Perhaps you could try using a different browser to see if that helps. Let us know if you are still having problems. Thanks, Cath

Submitted by Alejandra G on Sun, 01/01/2017 - 15:47


Hi Chris form Argentina! I think you've brought a solution to a problem, so I won`t have to ask children to turn off their devices, but let's work with it instead. Although not every child has got a mobile phone, most of them have got one, so I'm sure they will be willing to share their devices or explain some classmate how to use their mobile phones. Thanks!

Submitted by Jasmin Jasmin on Wed, 03/07/2018 - 07:58


Hello Chris. I am a teacher of English in one of Russian villages. Unfortunately there is no computer and other devices for me to show them presentations or videos in the classroom which are just necessary at the 21century lessons. But mobile phones are available for every student. And they are always there for us for different activities))

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