In the world today, technological innovations are accelerating and one domain that has been a witness to this phenomenon is mobile technology. What started as just a communication device has now begun to perform a multitude of functions including learning. The percentage of learning using mobile-devices such as laptops, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry etc. has gone up enormously.
Many organizations are now looking at developing m-learning courses. In this context, let me share a few tips that might be helpful for developing a course meant for mobile delivery.
Creating Learning Content:
Creating content for an m-learning course is the biggest challenge for any instructional designer. It is so because of the limitations and constraints inherent in the medium. Here are a few tips that might be helpful while creating content for m-learning.
- Content should address some of the learning needs: An instructional designer needs to start with a thorough content analysis to clearly identify the learning needs that the solution must address. They should also come up with a few initial questions that help to assess the target audience and their expectations.
- Content should be in smaller chunks: Most mobile devices have small screens. So it is very essential to break the content into smaller chunks to facilitate the learning. The content should be to the point so that the learner can absorb it very quickly. You can use appropriate interactions and bullet points to help learners plunge deeper into each chunk. Try to avoid excessive downward scrolling of content in the course. Instead, use audio widely to support the text.
- Content should have “Need to know info”: Most of the content needs to be created in such a way that makes it easy for people to remember. Avoid “Nice to know information” as much as possible.
- Content should be device specific: Instructional designer has to create the content as per the screen size of the mobile device; as the size varies from one device to another. So consider chunking the content according to the device types for which you are creating the course.
Designing Visual Elements:
- Design a simple user interface: As we all know, mobile devices have small screens and there is not enough space to accommodate a complicated user interface on a small screen. So, it is advisable to use simple user interface with the basic navigation features such Next, Back, Exit and Home. Try to keep the screen in an organized way.
- Use line arts/ iconic representation: Use of line arts would be a great strategy to explain procedure of any activity. For instance, if you want to explain the procedure of “lifting weights” then line arts will be the best option to explain. Images and graphs can also be used to convey as much as words do.
- Use simple animations: We can make course very interactive using simple animations even within the limited space. Animations grab the learner’s attention a lot.
Developing M-learning Course:
- Image, audio and videos: Keep the file size of images, audio and video elements as small as possible so that the learner will not face any downloading issues. Also consider file formats of audio and video which need to be supported across most devices.
- Convert Flash (.swf) files into video: Most of the mobile devices don’t support flash files so it is necessary to convert them into a video format before importing.
With the increased permeability of mobile devices, m-learning has the potential to reach large number of learners in real-time providing just-in-time knowledge. Instructional designers, visual designers and developers have to consider the uniqueness of the medium and design courses accordingly.