Today, ‘Telephone’ and ‘Internet’ stand among the ‘all-time great inventions’ the world has ever seen. And, much to the delight of the innovative human brain, smart phones extended the applications of communication technology to such an extent that the ‘real-time’ world has come to fit in our palm. From trading to transactions and from shopping to learning, each activity of the technologically advanced modern world is on our finger tips now. In a nut shell, mobiles connect our world! Mobiles are ubiquitous! And, mobiles are our future!
In parallel, the journey of eLearning – from Flash to Rapid Authoring Tools to Mobile Learning – is progressive and consistent. Thanks to the responsive design technologies, eLearning, which started at desktop computers way back, has transcended successfully, and is reigning over laptops, tabs and smart phones. Today, the much delightful, common scene is of learners using smart phones to access any training course across the world – projecting Mobile Learning as the future learning scenario.
Have you ever wondered how efficiently the air crew manages the ‘little’ space they have on the flight? Mobile learning intuitively reminds me of that. They perform multiple tasks in that little space, with great planning and precision!
Developing Mobile Learning courses runs along the same lines of how general eLearning courses are developed, except that there is more focus on areas such as determining the devices, considering the screens, and choosing the right delivery modes. However, the team – especially the instructional designers – should change their strategies of presentation to suit the learning purposes to make Mobile learning much effective.
In this blog, let us have a look at the best practices the instructional designers should follow while developing Mobile Learning.
Tip # 1 – Go for bite-sized learning
When the instructional designer is to design content for a mobile learning course, they should realize the characteristics of mobile learning and to create it for ‘learning on the go’. The ideal approach should be to plan for ‘bite sized’ or ‘micro’ learning.
Plan to design and develop small learning nuggets or chunks to make mobile learning more effective to use. Bite-sized or micro learning creates crisp, focused content based on a single topic or problem. Ideally, each learning unit should contain a single learning objective with relevant information, necessary for the learner to meet the objective. These small chunks of content can be digested effectively.
With the changing learning trends, learners who are looking for ‘instant learning’ always prefer ‘bite-sized’ learning. In surveys conducted randomly, majority of the learning and development professionals reveal that more than 90% of learners prefer bite-sized learning, compared to the traditional lengthy eLearning courses.
Moreover, from the perspective of development, you can keep on releasing courses quickly and constantly, instead of keeping the learners wait for considerably a longer time.
Tip # 2 – Show less text on the screen
This guideline doesn’t need much explanation, but the results are much effective. On the (comparatively) smaller mobile screens, learners don’t prefer to read larger text. The onscreen text that you want to display can be best converted into audio with media elements or animation coming in sync to display on the screen. Or, you can plan for a narrative video explaining the content.
This guideline should be best remembered when creating assessment questions. As far as possible, keep the questions and options short and crisp.
Tip # 3 – Make it less interactive
Imagine a summative drag-and-drop assessment question with lengthy options in the text boxes, where you need to drag and drop them onto the matching empty boxes! You will just struggle, more so if the interface is not much intuitive to support.
So, it is always ideal to design the content less interactive when it is for mobile learning. As the learning units are smaller, let the learning chunks be in a narrative mode so that the learner can focus well and enjoy the fulfilling learning outcomes.
Tip # 4 – Choose video-based learning
Perhaps YouTube is the best example to realize the effectiveness of learning videos. These learning videos, especially from 2 to 10 minutes of duration, are much popular, in addressing the diversified learning needs of users.
Plan for video-based learning content with good narration and effective animation support, which can keep the learner engaged in the course and eventually acquire the targeted results.
Tip # 5 – Make it simple and effective
This is in fact the success mantra of mobile learning – in toto. As the instructional designer, you should plan the course to make it simple, effective and easy to use. According to the ID plan, the design should be non-complex; the interface should be intuitive; the interactive levels of the course should be minimal, user-friendly and much accessible. Less text on the screen, will ultimately reduce the need for much scrolling, making it a pleasant user experience.
The Final Thought
As an instructional designer, when you are planning content for mobile learning, always remember that it is not the content that will be changed, but the ID approach.
To plan for mobile design, the best thumb rule for ID strategy is: ‘Mobile learners navigate the courses using their thumb’.
As design will – at large – be based on the ID strategy, a well-planned ID approach can yield effective learning results in mobile learning.
For similar effective tips for the designers to create mobile friendly eLearning courses, click here.