Back again! Here are the next 7 tips for Designing Mobile Learning That works. I’m not preaching that these “are THE tips” but these are definitely tips that I’ve used to approach our mobile learning projects.
Tip #8 Don’t forget about accessibility
Of course, there’s plenty of information out there regarding accessibility, so I won’t regurgitate the obvious. But, I wanted to include this as a reminder. Things like colours, contrast, font sizes, and ensuring our content can be read by screen readers or in device readers. Most devices now have built-in accessibility settings like high contrast, voice-overs, screen zooming, so allow testing with these features on.
Nielsen Norman Group has some great references and articles. I mention this site as it involves Jakob Nielsen who is one of the original User Experience thought leaders and gurus.
In addition, spend time getting used to your own accessibility settings. Some experts are now even recommending changing the colour scheme on your mobile to grayscale to minimise the temptation of checking apps.
This leads me on to the next point anyway.
Tip #9 Keep screen interactions brief and bold
Basically, this means the following; large fonts and not too much on the screen at any one time. Even though you might like reading the equivalent of a novel on our mobile device, not everyone will. If we are utilising slide by slide like experiences developed in an authoring tool, be sure to break up the information over a number of slides. Short and simple screens!
Tip #10 Know your audience
We recently worked with an aged care provider and many of their staff, who are remote workers visiting clients had, let’s say limited technical experience. This meant we needed to keep the end user’s technical ability in mind when designing the learning. As stated in Tip#9, we needed to keep the number of items on the screen at any one time, to a minimum so the users weren’t confused by choice.
In this particular case, we also used a simple story about a typical employee going about their typical day, so they were able to relate to it. The closer your content aligns with the end user’s needs, the more they’ll absorb the message.
Tip #11 Consider audio only
People love podcasts and audiobooks. People spend time listening in the car, with headphones at work, on public transport, or even while gardening. We are by no means suggesting a whole learning piece to be audio only, but by all means, consider an audio-only section. There are lots of free audio/podcast hosting services out there, and audio can easily be embedded into learning modules using authoring tools or websites and intranets using HTML frames. It’s getting a lot easier to create podcast like experiences.
Tip #12 Consider ongoing discussion if the platform allows it
A lot of LMSs and platforms are mobile friendly, and many have built-in discussion forums that can be associated to learning objects. Reflective practice aids in forming a habit and this can be encouraged by ongoing discussion.
To form a habit, you need to engage in a certain kind of feedback loop multiple times, consisting of 4 key stages: a trigger (e.g. a notification icon), and action (a click or swipe), a variable reward (the picture or comments you see), and some re-investment (you post something yourself). The more frequently you go around this loop the more ingrained the habit will become.
So what makes you more likely to repeat this process?
You need an attention-grabbing trigger (the little red notification icon), the action you respond with must be easy and fast (a click or swipe), the reward you get must be variable (otherwise interest wanes), and the re-investment must be easy (contribute with a comment or post a picture). When considering a discussion forum via a mobile device, keep these steps in mind as part of your design.
Tip #13 Location aware learning
Some authoring tools actually allow the module to access the device location, meaning content can be delivered depending on what location the learner is in.
For example, your business may have a number of locations or sites. You could develop one learning module for staff induction, with a stock standard introduction for everyone. But the next step could involve location learning – the module could then recognise where each staff member is actually located and site information, specific to their location could be delivered.
Tip #14 Consider the challenges before implementing mobile learning
Currently, in Australia, we are using our mobiles for lots of stuff. I don’t think we need stats to tell you this, you can see it walking down the street, but stats do tell us that using a mobile interface has become a preferred method for doing stuff, over more traditional approaches. Think payWave and PayPass vs carrying actual money around or visiting a bank branch rather than using their banking app.
Keeping this in mind, I’ve penned some hurdles that may need to be considered when planning and implementing a mobile learning strategy.
- Developing for different browsers and mobile operating systems.
- How is content supported, maintained, reported on?
- Setting up the infrastructure/technical challenges faced – buying mobile devices for the employees, how to deploy the learning, training IDs re mobile strategies.
- Is it reasonable to ask people to learn on their own time?
- Are there legal/business risks of mobile content being shared (VPN security)
- Allowing LMS to be accessed via mobile (IP – Intellectual Property)
- Expectations placed on your employees to do work-related learning outside of work hours
- Integration – is it too hard to integrate with LMS, too hard to design responsive content.
So there you have it! My top 14 (way better than 10) tips, on mobile learning design!
Planning a mobile learning strategy, or designing a mobile-based module?
Please feel free to get in touch if you need any assistance. My team or I would be happy to help!
Until next time!