There are various definitions of what mlearning is.
Many focus on the method or delivery mechanism ie smartphones, iPads or netbooks ie:
Mobile learning. This is facilitated via a wireless device such as a PDA, a smart phone or a laptop.(1)
Any sort of [technology enhanced] learning that happens when the learner is not at a fixed, predetermined location, or learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies (2)
I personally prefer the second definition as it reflect not only the mode of learning, but more the process itself, that it allows learning in ANY environment.
How we learn with these devices is segmented into different principles.
If taking a the example of an engineer starting a new project, then mlearning can function as a method of:
informational retrieval – quick location of the information on how to operate a machine at work
orientation – visual or audio guidance on how to operate a designated machine
communication -timely discussion with colleagues on further information regarding the project
collaboration – using socail networking or various group tools to share ideas and allowing timely reciprocation of discussion
assessment – adding to the learning cycle via actually testing projects, feedback or benchmarking.
However the main benefit of mlearning as with elearning is its ability to be transferred from a f2f interaction to multiple learners with relative and cost effective ease. They key point is not to just provide a faceless information dump over an interactive, intuitive session of learning goodness
Ultimately using these principles is not simply adapting learning into a mobile environment, but more looking at how the information is interfaced with, understood and processed into forms of superficial or deep learning to be of the most benefit. A case of not technology providing the learning, but technology enhancing the learning.