5 Instructional Design Tips to Improve the Mobile Learning Design Process
Understand Your Learners’ Mobile Usage Patterns
Mobile usage patterns indicate that learning on mobile devices is usually consumed when the content is presented in micro-sized chunks. When researchers studied the the training consumption patterns of PC users, they realized that learners did not mind consuming slightly bigger chunks of content. This does not mean that the content was not microlearning, rather, it meant that PC users were ok with consuming longer microlearning modules that what was first assumed, However, researchers then noted that learners often switched to mobile phones during periods of free time. During their time using mobile phones, people were most often consuming much smaller chunks of content when compared to their PC usage.
With this information, you can now proceed to design mobile learning courses with the intention of capturing your learner’s attention during their free time.
The best way to do this is by designing engaging mobile learning which is presented in microformats. Additionally, ensure that the training is presented with plenty of media because an image and video rich content is more likely consumed by learners on a mobile phone when compared to text-heavy training. Additionally, you can opt to include some form of social interaction modules which makes use of the messaging functionality of your mobile phone to encourage social learning among learners.
Some other points one must consider are to keep the training lite and clutter-free because the small screen size of a mobile phone plays a big role in how easily learners can interact with the content.
Designing Mobile Learning to Fit Compact Screen Sizes
As an Instructional Designer, understanding the relationship of a mobile screen size or active view-port size of the device and the type of eLearning course is very important. When talking about designing mobile learning, approach the problem with the mindset of ‘less is more.’ Actively choosing minimalistic design elements to compensate for heavy text content works well on small screen sizes. The same principle applies to images and visuals. It really boils down to what makes more sense on a small screen. The answer is ‘content that really matters must always takes precedence over any other elements.’
To correctly optimize courses for mobile, designers should also consider the use of mobile-friendly fonts, colors, and graphics that are easy to read and view on a smaller screen.
In terms of layout, eLearning courses should be designed to load quickly on mobile devices. This can be achieved by optimizing images and videos, minimizing the use of animations, and ensuring that the course is compatible with multiple mobile devices and operating systems. Additionally, the course layout should be responsive, adjusting to the screen size of the device to provide the best viewing experience.
Planning the Navigation On Mobile Phones is Critical to Designing Mobile Learning
Smartphones work on the principle of touchscreen navigation and scrolling. This means that navigation elements packed too close to each other will inevitably cause the learner to face problems when clicking on elements.
Designing mobile learning courses requires careful consideration of how clickable elements are placed on a mobile device and how the layout loads. When it comes to clickable elements, they should be large enough to tap with a finger and placed strategically to avoid accidental clicks. Buttons and links should have enough spacing between them to prevent misclicks. Moreover, the placement of the clickable elements should be intuitive and consistent throughout the course to ensure ease of navigation.
PCs on the other hand work with several active tabs on the same screen. Now on a PC, jumping back and forth between tabs is very simple. But the same does not apply to mobile devices. As a result, eLearning courses on mobile phones work better when the content is provided sequentially as the learner scrolls through the content instead of opening on multiple tabs simultaneously.
Using a Smartphone’s Inbuilt Abilities and Features
If screen size is something that smartphones lack, then they compensate for this with features like mobility, accessibility, and small form factor. Additionally, instructional designers must also consider using mobile-specific features such as geolocation, push notifications, and social media integration to enhance the user experience.
These features can be used creatively to support some if not everybody’s learning needs. And that is ok because the decision to publish courses on mobile phones is only arrived at after studying your learners’ needs. And as stated earlier, mobile learning is not a means to everybody’s learning needs. Instead, it is a means to improve the learning needs of those who truly need it. Also, the abilities of a smartphone can make learning games and interactions much richer and more engaging, especially when paired properly with the existing features of a mobile phone.