In Act 1 you were introduced to the concept of combining mobile, wireless-based technology (such as a smartphone or tablet computer) with eLearning – in the simplest of terms this is called Mobile Learning or mLearning. In keeping with this theme, I would like to discuss design considerations for mLearning. Developing content for mLearning poses new challenges for instructional designers. First and foremost, instructional designers should keep in mind the K.I.S.S. principle – Keep It Short and Simple. (Hey – what were you thinking?)
Given the size of the average smartphone screen, accessing training designed for delivery via a laptop or desktop computer is less than ideal for these small devices and similar devices with varying screen sizes. In fact, designers need to take an entirely different approach when developing training for deployment on a mobile device. The following list suggests some interface design considerations to keep in mind during your content development:
- Keep it simple—you need large navigation buttons that look clickable and that can be reached while holding the device with one hand without blocking content
- Keep buttons simple, yet communicative - include graphical elements and labels for identification
- Take advantage of the interactive options provided by the gestural interface of these devices (single and double tap, hold, swipe, pinch and spread, tilt, geo-sensors, and the camera)
- Provide feedback that helps verify the users' onscreen selection, such as highlights, fades, and color changes – remember high contrasting colors work best
- Fonts are limited on mobile devices; therefore do not rely on differentiating fonts to get your point across
- If possible, include games to increase learner engagement and enhance the learning experience
- Keep multimedia use to a minimum – not all devices support all multimedia formats
- Provide tools to enhance and compliment the content (FAQs, job aids/learning aids, performance support, documentation, etc.)
Overcoming these new challenges will benefit both you and your learners – after all, it’s all about our learners isn’t it? As training professionals we need to keep pace with how and where our users want to engage their content and we need to be ready to tackle even more ch-ch-ch-changes moving forward.
Stay tuned for my final act – Act 3 where I will discuss additional content considerations for mLearning.
- Kris Castiaux, Senior Instructional Designer, ePath Learning, Inc.