Mobile Learning is the fastest-evolving learning technology in the global learning tech industry today!

With the rise of mobile devices and numerous other devices having varied screen sizes, mobile learning has now become a major attraction in the learning industry. Facts reveal that 47% of organizations are now using mobile devices to support formal learning. This has led to the need of having courses with a responsive design to create multi-device learning more effective, as learners now prefer to access eLearning courses from their choice of devices. This requires eLearning designers to develop courses that are responsive, to enhance learning experience of the learners.

Both, responsive and adaptive eLearning designs are based on the web design principles. To understand these two variations of design, in this blog, we are going to talk about pros and cons of a responsive design and adaptive design in eLearning course development.

What is Responsive Design?

It is defined as a process that fluidly alters its layout to fit the environment in which it is being viewed.

Responsive Design in eLeaening

A responsive design is a type of design that runs swimmingly across all devices like desktops, tablets and smartphones. It involves development of only one design which is coded in a fashion such that it suits the display screens of the device the learner is using. The device could be a PC, a tablet or a smartphone.n one hand, creating responsive designs make it easier to access information irrespective of the device they use, while on the other hand, it can be a tough task for a designer to make changes to the design for only a particular device. The challenge for the designer here is to ensure that these changes do not affect the design for other devices.

Like a coin has two sides, below are some pros and cons of having a responsive design.

Pros of Responsive Design

  • Responsive design: If an eLearning course developed is responsive, there is no need to have multiple designs for different devices. This makes it easier for the user to manage and monitor one course across different devices, unlike having two or three different course designs to manage. Hence, responsive courses require less development.
  • Single point distribution: Developing responsive courses will have one single point distribution from your LMS.
  • Scope for customization: Responsive eLearning courses can be easily customized and content changes can be done in a hassle-free way.
  • Content Accessibility: eLearning courses that are responsive come with an added advantage of providing content that is as per the guidelines of WCAG 2.0 (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
  • Cost effective: Undoubtedly, designing and developing only one version for all platforms/devices is way too cost effective than having multiple versions of the course designed to suit multiple device displays.
  • Requires less resources: Designing and developing responsive eLearning courses demands less effort, less resources and a smaller team as compared to developing adaptive courses.

Some of the rapid authoring tools/frameworks that are reliable for designing responsive eLearning courses include Elucidat, Evolve, Gomo Learning, Articulate Rise, Adapt, HTML5, CSS, Lectora 16/17, Bootstrap, Angular JS. However, rapid authoring tools such as Adobe Captivate and Articulate Storyline claim to create responsive designs, but the results are not always desirable; these authoring tools still need time to improve.

For corporates who plan to provide training via eLearning courses using gamification, storytelling or scenario based training modules, responsive courses are a big NO. Instead, app-based eLearning is highly recommended in these cases.

While there are so many advantages of having a responsive design, the disadvantages cannot be neglected.

Cons of Responsive Design

  • Technical inconvenience: Although responsive design is a work for devices with new technology, old devices may not respond well to this design. Old browsers or devices may take too long to open the courses & modules.
  • The User Experience: While designing an eLearning course, user experience is one of the main parameters to be kept in mind. Providing a satisfying user experience through desktop/mobile course is important. But, one must understand that desktop and mobile are entirely different user experiences. Pay attention to not losing both the users in attempts of trying to give a satisfying user experience to both. Hence, creating responsive course require more careful designing efforts.
  • Poor Content Adaptation: Responsive course design does not ensure your learning content for mobile is well adapted for mobile users and learning content for desktop is well adapted for desktop users. With hundreds of varied screen sizes and resolutions of devices, it is difficult to create a design that is responsive across all device screen sizes. Hence, a few devices may not display content as desired.
  • More loading time: This is possible among the mobile course as the poor or inconsistent data connectivity can lead to increase in load time of the course unlike on the desktop.

To conclude, creating responsive mobile learning courses is not just shrinking the content to fit various screen sizes, but following eLearning design principles such as maintaining user readability across all devices for better learning outcomes.

What is an Adaptive Design?

Adaptive Design in eLearning

Adaptive design can be defined as a set of layouts that are designed suited to each screen variation. Hence, it is less fluid in nature and consists of predefined layouts for various screen sizes. This means, for each different screen size, a layout needs to be designed. For example, if the content needs to be displayed across 5 devices with different screen sizes, 5 different layouts need to be designed to fit each of those screens. If you are targeting users on a particular device, then adaptive design is a good choice.

Pros of Adaptive Design

  • Efficient page loads: Adaptive courses are preferred over responsive designs as these are much better for load time performance and provide great user experience. This is because these courses are developed as per the requirements of running these courses flawlessly on a device, wherein only mobile-friendly assets are downloaded.
  • Tailor-made experience based on the user intent & context: Having an adaptive design enables you to provide learners with a finely tuned experience on an adaptive course which makes it intuitive and quick. This works in favor of companies who wish to provide an exclusive learning experience to their employees (working more often on field) who use mobiles for corporate training/learning.
  • Extensive control over design: Adaptive course design and development gives the designers complete control of designing the course as per the device for which the course is to be developed.
  • Increase reach: Having an adaptive course design enables you to provide training to maximum learners on the go.

Cons of Adaptive Design

  • Resource and budget heavy: Creating and managing adaptive courses needs a team of developers and budget, to manage the complexity of opting to develop and support adaptive courses. Hence, it is heavy on pocket.
  • Complex nature: Designing or developing too many separate versions of courses is extremely time consuming and is no less than a tough grind. Hence, the complexity increases with each newly designed course layout for each device.
  • Limited to specific devices: Designing adaptive courses can be done only for specific devices and hence, limits its functionality to these specific devices only.

At eNyota Learning, we design and develop eLearning courses as per the requirements of our clients for creating better learner experiences for their audiences. Although these two types of design approaches are different, the overall objective remains the same i.e., creating effective eLearning for a memorable learning experience for the learners.

So, which approach is more appealing to you with respect to your target audience?

Connect with us if you need interactive eLearning/training courses for your employees/learners. A meaningful conversation is never a waste of time!