by Tanya Elias
Athabasca University, Canada

originally appeared in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning
February – 2011


The report extends a previous analysis of universal instructional design principles in distance education by applying them to the design of mobile learning. Eight principles with particular relevance for distance education are selected, and their recommendations are discussed in relation to the design of educational materials for a range of mobile devices. The problems and opportunities of mobile learning are discussed as is the need for educators to focus on content design issues rather than on searching for the next new technology.


Inclusive and accessible education should aspire to include all learners. Mobile learning appears to have the potential to do that. SMS and MMS technologies offer excellent opportunities to open up education to many who have long been excluded from it. This effort, however, will involve the development of creative techniques for relatively simple technologies and the design of universally accessible educational materials for them. The challenge will force educators to rethink their current approaches to teaching. They should not look exclusively for the next great technological advance, but should focus on the accessible design of materials using tools that are currently available. Intensive research is needed to consider the ways in which appropriate technologies and solid pedagogical approaches can remove the barriers to educational diversity. The principles of universal instructional design will play a valuable role in this process.


About kevin

A long-time technology enthusiast who, in the mid 80's, thought the internet might be something that would catch-on, so he taught himself programming. That started him on a very satisfying road as a course developer, trainer, online teacher and elearning evangelist. Thirty years later, he fancies himself to be a "futurist" and "thought leader".... those thoughts are more about learning that doesn't involve expensive technology and a vision of the future that makes education more critical than ever! More information at: