The Horizon Report, 2011, states that by the end of 2015, 80% of people will access the Internet using their mobile devices, with education as their main focus. The growing number of mobile Internet users has paved the way for organizations to develop and deliver courses online, which may be accessible on mobile devices. But, how can organizations ensure that highly effective m-learning courses are developed? Well, the answer is this: learning design strategies should be adopted for an efficient m-learning course.
Let us take a look into the design strategies in detail:
Instructional design strategy:
Today most learners including global audience prefer learning using a mobile. An instructional strategy helps us to understand the learner and the context in which the mobile device is used. Due to limitations of mobile devices, such as display capacity, instructional designers may have to adopt a different approach while designing courses that may be deployed on mobiles. Instructional design strategies help keep the content brief and to design engaging content. Also, the mobile device dimensions should be considered while designing an online course.
The three essential elements to be considered when developing m-learning courses are target audience, training needs analysis, and learning content analysis.
- Target audience: Understanding the target audience is very important. This is because m-learning may not be advantageous to those who work much on desktops such as the administrative staff. Rather, it may be helpful to the sales personnel and field executives who are always on the move and who cannot attend classroom trainings. So, understanding who the target audience is very important before initiating m-learning.
- Training needs analysis: After identifying the target audience, the next important step is to comprehend their learning needs. An outline has to be drawn on what they have to learn, considering their time constraints, and the outcome of learning. Also, m-learning has its own limitations and it is not a substitute to any other training format.
- Learning content analysis: Once the training needs are understood, the learning content should be analyzed and presented to the learner based on the learners’ training needs on mobile devices. M-learning thus aids in classroom training and facilitates performance, imparts training on multiple devices, enhances knowledge and skills of learners, and helps in conducting assessments.
Visual design strategy:
Effective visuals facilitate effective learning. Visual strategy is a design approach that enables learners to visualize and comprehend information. It helps to compare and perform analyses. It gives a multidimensional display of information, allowing the learners to retain information for long periods of time.
The following aspects should be considered while formulating a visual design strategy for m-learning.
- Accessing information: Many a time, learners use their mobile phones with one hand and access information with the thumb. They may access courses in a moving bus or a train. So, this aspect should be kept in mind while selecting visuals.
- Mobile screen size: There may be a vast diversity of varied mobile screen sizes. So, the visuals should be appropriately rendered for all mobile screen sizes.
- Mobile interface: The latest mobile interface gives the user the touch, swipe, pinch, and zoom options to interact with the content. This should be considered while formulating a visual design strategy for m-learning.
- Auto rotate: The auto-rotation feature should be considered when the visuals are viewed horizontally and vertically on mobiles.
- Bandwidth: The bandwidth availability should be checked, as large animated images load slowly.
It is essential to consider the environment in which users are likely to access the course. This helps to make the best use of audio. Learners may not be able to access the course at noisy places; rather, they may effectively learn the content during their downtime. Audio also gives learners a friendly and conversational time to learn.
Multimedia plays a vital role in improving the efficacy of the learners. Multimedia elements such as with videos, animations, games, and so on, used in an m-learning course grab the learners’ attention. So, multimedia-related aspects should be kept in mind while developing the m-learning course.
It is a common understanding that assessments are an integral part of the training strategy. So, you need to consider various elements like quizzes, puzzles, games, and so on in an m-learning course.
Using technology efficiently helps create highly effective m-learning courses. Two technologies are essentially considered while developing m-learning courses: the ‘HTML5’ and the ‘Responsive design.’
- HTML5 stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and helps create web pages. When courses are published through HTML5, they are accessible on multiple devices inclusive of all screen sizes and platforms. Courses may also be evaluated on the LMS easily with HTML5.
- Responsive design: This feature helps to design online courses that automatically adjust to multiple screen sizes. This gives an enhanced learning experience to the learner.
- Mobile apps: These are software applications that help in providing information to the user on their mobile devices. The two types of apps are native apps and web apps.
Adapting to the right instructional and visual design strategy is of utmost importance in developing m-learning courses. Audio and multimedia effects improve the efficacy of the content. The assessment and technical strategies and the usage of the appropriate authoring tools make a lasting impression, giving an enhanced mobile learning experience to the learner and making the course more effective.