How Mobile Learning Affects Long-term Memory

How Mobile Learning Affects Long-term Memory!

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by Liubomyr Sirskyi
Copywriter at Kwiga

The main feature of mobile learning is convenience and acquiring new knowledge anywhere with an Internet connection. According to the author of The Mobile Learning Edge: Tools and Technologies for Developing Your Teams, Harry Woodill, this type of e-learning exempts you from traveling to a specific location. Moreover, this approach takes us back to ancient times, when vital knowledge was passed on by word of mouth. And with the spread of accessible mobile Internet, such learning is increasingly integrated into our lives and can use a variety of memory mechanisms, including long-term ones. We will consider this issue in our material.

What Are the Types of Long-term Memory

Before understanding the benefits of m-learning, you first need to learn more about the 2 main types of long-term memory.

Verbal memory

The first type of memory is responsible for storing general information about the world around us, not associated with a person's unique experience. When we try to remember the capital of Germany or who rules the United Kingdom, we are using semantic memory.

Verbal memory is as massive in volume as the knowledge we get, and it allows information to be stored for decades and take it using general concepts. For example, the answer to the question "Who is a lion" would be "a predatory mammal with four legs and a thick mane around its head."

Episodic Memory

This type of memory is associated with the actual experience, like a trip to the USA, a visit to the theater, or office work. To extract data from episodic memory, a person needs to remember events from the past. So, the word "lion" will be associated with a trip to the zoo or a safari. Therefore, episodic memory covers a specific context, time, and place in which certain events occurred.

In addition, episodic memory allows us to remember different stories, even if we were not directly involved in them. And thanks to emotional assessment and interest in the topic, events remain in memory with all the details.

But there is a nuance: episodic memories are gradually forgotten over time. Such fragile processes can be observed in Riley Anderson, Disney's Inside Out heroine.

Since smartphones significantly impact human life, some researchers suggest that m-learning is more about episodic memory. At the same time, classic electronic courses help to use more verbal memory.

How Does Mobile Learning Activate Episodic Memory

There are three areas in which the impact of mobile learning on episodic memory has been proven. Let's consider them in more detail:

    • Practical learning allows you to remember specific information and where it can be used in the future. Thus, memories are formed, connecting new knowledge with work, emotions, and environment images. As a result, triggers appear, thanks to which the student can extract the necessary data from the episodic memory.
    • The ability to get vital knowledge anywhere - e.g., on the road, at work, on the couch at home - creates a lot of memories. They link different aspects of life to the topic they are studying. It allows you to improve memorizing and using knowledge in various situations.

  • Many memories associated with m-learning, over time, move into a more reliable type of long-term memory called semantic. In other words, the knowledge gained is transformed from memories into permanent knowledge. The effectiveness of this principle was once studied by Professor Martin Conway from the University of London. Together with his colleagues, he studied assimilation and memorization from an academic course in Psychology. Initial research indicated that most of the information was recalled as episodes (for example, data from the experiments of Morris, Bransford, and Franks). However, retesting a couple of months later showed that theoretical information had separated from learning memories. Moreover, it passed into semantic memory among the most successful students and was strengthened there.

All of this proves that m-learning affects episodic memory in one way or another. Information is first recorded regarding specific events, after which it is transferred to the category of general knowledge.

Prospects for Mobile Learning

At the same time, the future for this type of e-learning is more than bright. Mobile devices are so ingrained in our lives that mobility has become a top requirement among millions of students. Online learning using smartphones has enormous potential in many areas (especially foreign languages, personal growth, marketing, and IT).

More and more attention is now being paid to active learning approaches. For example, crowdsourcing is increasingly used in m-learning, which allows you to collect and visualize vast amounts of data thanks to a large army of smartphone and tablet PC users. Moreover, the use of cloud technologies will significantly facilitate the remote management of an online course and access to additional educational resources.

Many schools and universities around the world still prohibit mobile devices during classes. However, this approach will not last long because m-learning can be used for practical purposes (for example, to raise the literacy level and quickly find the necessary information).

5 Ways to Improve Your Education Courses by Using Smartphones

Mobile learning is a highly effective strategy. Therefore, it is crucial not to be angry with students for spending time on smartphones but to find ways to use them in the education process. Games, apps, and internet access are helping students improve their reading skills, explore more deeply, and share their learning experiences. It can be a milestone in the creation of adaptive learning strategies.

Here are 5 ways you can make your online courses even better:

Let Students Do Their Homework on Smartphones

As for now, students store a massive number of apps on their smartphones. Among them are often text editors or video editing programs.

Allow students to complete the assignment on a mobile device, but the finished work must be of high quality and meet all the requirements on one condition.

Therefore, online course participants are more motivated to make presentations, record videos, or create collages on their phones. And often, the result exceeds the expectations of students and teachers. As a result, high marks and pleasure from learning.

Have Students Use Telephones To Prepare for the Next Lesson

This is another way to involve students in the learning process. In one of the classes, you can say that there will be no specific homework. Instead, talk about your plans for the next lesson or the whole week, and ask students to look up initial information on smartphones or tablets. You can even create a specific chat in the messenger app to collect your students.

Of course, they will share memes and news, but at the same time, they will not forget about the primary goal of finding and discussing information for the lesson. If students have found little data, you can evaluate the quality of what has already been found.

Show Them How To Check Facts on Smartphones

The Internet is a vast repository of all kinds of data. Therefore, it can and should be used for research purposes. Let your students forget tons of dust-collecting books and start looking for unfamiliar terms and dates. Moreover, this can be done directly during the lesson (of course, with the teacher's permission).

Teach To Convert Speech to Text and Vice Versa

Teachers want students to read more and take notes, but not everyone feels confident about these questions. This is where converting speech to text and vice versa can come in handy. Many apps allow you to take notes using voice input, and this approach provides greater self-confidence among those students who are more accustomed to perceiving and reproducing information orally.

But even this approach has its drawbacks. For example, students still need to proofread the text for errors, edit it and format it to deliver the task to the teacher. But even this allows for high-quality learning through the use of adaptive methods.

Journalists and executives of large companies actively use Speech-to-text conversion. So why not take advantage of the free tools for regular students too?

Encourage the Use of Translation Software

Such tools are simply irreplaceable for those who study foreign languages. Online course instructors can improve the quality of learning and motivate students to use translation apps and mobile dictionaries. This approach has two main advantages:

  • the ability to find quality materials for the lesson.
  • the benefit of drawing up a strategy for working with complex texts in the future.


Let's sum up everything. Many educators believe that smartphones and learning are incompatible, as they distract from the educational process. However, mobile devices can be precious when used correctly.

Of course, as with any other technology, it needs the proper motivation for the presenters and owners of e-courses. They should discuss the issue of using smart devices with their learners.

In any case, smartphones are the main gate to the whole world of knowledge. And if used correctly, they can improve the quality of online learning.

Soon, mobile courses will continue to develop context-sensitive technologies that leverage student preferences to access the right resources at the right time.

When it comes to the impact on long-term memory, there is no doubt about the effectiveness of mobile learning. There are three main benefits of m-learning:

  • The student remembers how and where they used the acquired knowledge, making it much easier to retrieve information from memory if needed.
  • The ability to learn anywhere improves data retention.
  • Many episodic memories form the basis of verbal memory, which is a system of general knowledge about the world around us.

We hope you find our article helpful. If you still have questions about mobile learning, leave them in the comments below. We will answer them and analyze the most interesting ones in the following materials.