Mobile devices such as Smartphones, iPads, iPods, Tablet PCs have gained immense popularity and widespread acceptance among users. Quite naturally, they are being considered as useful media to impart workplace learning. It makes a lot of practical sense in this age when knowledge transfer needs to take place in the shortest possible time reaching the widest possible audience. However, the challenge lies in the fact that regular media cannot be ignored or replaced with mobile devices for deploying learning. To ensure that eLearning courseware is available to a wide range of audiences within an organization, L&D managers need to make the courses accessible in multiple formats – which means users should be able to access the courses via their Smartphones, iPads, or simply through their workstation. Providing such flexibility does ensure wider registrations for eLearning courseware. However, it does pose a challenge to instructional designers when designing courses to be delivered in multiple delivery formats.
The first challenge for the IDs is to make the content relevant to multi format delivery. What this essentially means is that the content that the ID creates should be in such a way that irrespective of the device through which the module is being accessed the course needs to be made accessible. For example, if a sales person wants to access information about a product quickly while on the way to a prospect, he may want to listen to a podcast. The audio content thus will have to be independent and relevant by itself.
The second challenge is the development of content that is not dependent on context. The course can be accessed by anyone, any time and through any device. No matter what the existing knowledge of the learner, the content has to be made relevant to everyone. Smaller modules have to be designed which are now being referred to as Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs). What it means is that if the traditional eLearning course is for 60 mins duration, the IDs will need to create about 5-6 modules of say 10-15 mins duration each. All modules could be grouped as a complete course but can also be accessed as independent self-contained units. What it means is that the learner does not have to access the modules sequentially and can go to any segment and benefit from the knowledge being shared irrespective of his current knowledge. This is easier said than done. An ID should have excellent imagination and a non-linear bent of mind to be able to create the various ‘learning paths’.
Thus, while designing courses which need to be delivered in multiple learning paths; IDs should be able to chunk information into coherent and concise pieces. Each piece of information would be an RLO that conveys a specific knowledge that a learner can apply immediately. It provides the freedom to a learner to access only that portion of the course that is immediately relevant to him without having to sit through a long eLearning course.