How Mobile Learning Has Changed the LMS Landscape – by John Leh

As part of our Mobile Learning for Corporate Training Series, we asked a number of key industry influencers to share their insights on the future of mobile. In this article, John Leh shares his thoughts on how the mobile learning trend is affecting the world of Learning Management Systems (LMS).


When the iPhone was introduced 10 years ago, the idea of working and learning with mobile devices seemed like a fantastic but distant dream. Now, it’s hard to imagine business life without continuous access to information on the go.

Naturally, as Internet-enabled mobile devices became widespread in work environments, expectations for mobile learning shifted as well. For example, in a 2015 survey, 91 percent of LMS vendors told us that mobile learning delivery had become a “critical” requirement for their buyers.

However, before 2010, LMS developers were surprised by the rapid rise in demand for mobile access to learning content, and they struggled to respond. A few early movers created mobile applications that delivered an “LMS-lite” experience. But since 2010, a surge of next-generation cloud LMS vendors has flooded the market with browser-based “mobile responsive” solutions, designed to work on any device. These web-based solutions made the question of mobile LMS access a non-issue.

Now, in 2017, LMS vendors are heading back to mobile applications for incremental on-the-go functionality that cannot be provided through a browser. For example, some LMS mobile apps let learners move across devices whenever they wish, from desktop to laptop to smartphone to tablet, without disrupting the flow of content, bookmarks, or progress tracking. Another popular mobile app feature is the ability to download training content, work offline, and then automatically sync updates with the LMS whenever the device is reconnected.

The hallmark of these apps is the value they add by leveraging features that are uniquely available in mobile platforms, such as texting, video-based communication, geolocation for attendance tracking, and more.

Mobile apps now make it possible for learners, instructors, managers, and administrators to focus on the learning-related content and tasks that matter most to them, wherever they are, without losing essential functionality or data along the way.

What should learning organizations anticipate for the future? Mobile responsive design has become a practical and effective standard for LMS platforms. But the potential for mobile LMS innovation doesn’t stop with responsive design. Mobile apps are a way for LMS vendors to add extra functionality that extends the learning environment for specialized audience needs and business requirements. A strategy that leverages the best of both worlds is likely to be your best bet going forward.

  • BIO:
  • John Leh is CEO and Lead Analyst at Talented Learning, LLC.
  • Named one of the Top 20 Global Elearning Movers and Shakers of 2017, John is a fiercely independent LMS selection consultant and blogger who helps organizations develop and implement technology strategies that support learning initiatives, primarily for the extended enterprise.
  • For more than a decade prior to founding Talented Learning, John was a sales executive with multiple high-end LMS solutions providers, where he served more than 100 learning organizations with a total technology spend of more than 50 million dollars.
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