Getting Started With Mobile Learning: 7 Quick Tips for Success
Every day more smartphones are activated than babies are born. For trainers and educators the message is clear: mobile must be a key part of your training plan or you will be left behind. But, that doesn’t mean that learners want PowerPoint or eLearning on their mobile devices. You can’t just take your eLearning courses and reformat them to be compatible for mobile devices. Definitely, the best use of mobile isn’t cramming eLearning on a smaller screen either. Content needs to be fit for the purpose to improve productivity and content retention. It should be uncomplicated, easy to use, quickly accessible and meet the characteristics and requirements of the different devices.
If you’re planning to deliver your current courses, awareness campaigns or learning activities, to your learners for viewing on multiple devices, you are going to have to adapt them. Keeping in mind how mobile devices are actually used can be the difference between success and failure. Also, be clear that mobile learning needs to differ from eLearning in the following ways:
- More personal
- More fun
- More interactive
- Shorter duration
- More connected
- Directly to the point
- Just-on-time learning
- Engaging users to contribute and share
- From reader to producer of content (photos, videos, audios)
So when you’re asked to create a mobile learning course, you should be able to develop considered, dedicated mobile learning, rather than just eLearning courses that can also run on mobile devices. In the end, your number one goal is to give learners a learning experience that’s valuable and simple enough to make them want to take the course in any device they want. Here’s how to make that happen:
Tip #1: Be visible.
Use simple formatting – the old principle of “keep it simple” definitely applies to mobile optimizing your courses. Use sans-serif fonts which are easy to read, choose colors sensibly (contrasting, for example), and keep titles short and to the point. Choose fonts to maximize readability, and choose or create graphics that are easy to view. Less is more. Strong headlines and magnetic teasers that draw people to valuable content are critical to keeping the attention of your mobile audience.
Tip #2: Limit Graphical Content.
Because you don’t have much space on-screen, you need to be picky about what graphics you choose to use. Don’t use them when they aren’t needed. Large-screen graphics not only increase load times, but also take up valuable space that is needed to display text, hyperlinks, and other important information. The more complex the visual element the more bandwidth is required for download. You don’t want to run the risk that your images can’t be seen and users won’t finish the course.
Tip #3: Tone down information overload.
Mobile learners want and expect only essential and relevant content. You should cut the fat by displaying only relevant information. Some possible ways you can do this:
- Guide the learner to other content where they can catch up or explore further.
- Use bullets to make contextual information more concise.
- Consider using phrases like “For more information” or “To learn more”.
Tip #4: Think seconds and minutes, not hours or days.
mLearning content needs to be broken up into “bite-sized learning chunks”. Traditional eLearning commonly breaks-up content into 10 to 15 minute modules. However, with many users accessing mobile devices while they are on the go, it’s recommended to keep mobile learning modules even shorter, as brief as 2-5 minutes per segment. Mobile learning will always be more of an interrupted experience so you should create a tall and lean structure, one which has many small lessons containing 1-5 screens. This allows users to take short learning breaks between their other activities.
Fun fact: 90 seconds is the limit for a burst of sustained concentration on a mobile device.
Tip #5: Use videos to replace Flash animations.
Incorporating video can greatly improve your mobile learning course and make it more engaging for students. However, when attaching video items to your course, you must bear in mind that not all mobile devices can play all types of media files. Additionally, the quality and length of a video file will greatly affect the download time required—an important point to consider if your learners are accessing the course with their mobile network data connection.
Note: Use MP4 file format and keep your video dimensions small.
Tip #6: Brevity is only half the battle. The other half is style.
Keep it lively, conversational, punchy, and of course written in the active voice. Your mobile learners will experience more success with content that is simple, brief, and straightforward.
Tip #7: Avoid too much scrolling.
In a mobile environment your content will be most effective if you only provide a small amount on each page. This means users don‟t scroll the page for more content or scroll to reach the Next/Back buttons for navigation. According to ASTD, “chunks of text should be dispensed in sizes that are no wider than the device screen and no taller than two-times the screens height”.
What different approaches are you adopting when designing courseware that is going to be deployed via mobile devices. What are you doing to make your content more mobile-friendly? Tell us!