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The mobile world has been largely affected by the rise of smartphone and tablet use, which is also changing the way we convey and seek out information. Over the past few years, people have found new, unexpected ways to use their mobile devices, including education. Numerous corporations and other entities have discovered the convenience and effectiveness of using the mobile platform to train employees or give users access to pertinent information and skill training. In this article we will touch on some of the main factors that should be taken into consideration when creating a mobile learning program. With this, we will go over some of the top tips for mobile learning development as well as a handful of solutions to help you better understand the entire process.
It is first and foremost imperative that a mobile analysis is conducted for you. With this, a plan for design and development can be determined based on technological factors. During this stage, your design and development partner should conduct research to discover which types of mobile devices your learners most commonly use - and which they don’t - as well as how they use them. Also, what are the technical specs of those devices and their capabilities? After completing a tech and mobile analysis, the plan for development becomes clearer.
For example, it is necessary to look at the overall processing power of the device you are intending your program to be used with. While many computers have a 3.5 GHz processing power, the processor speed in smartphones ranges from 1.2 GHz to 2.5 GHz. The iPhone 5S recently came out with the world’s first 64-bit processor designed for mobile use, but this is relatively new so should not be considered the norm. When it comes to the screen, the iPhone 6 Plus (the largest model) has a 5.5 inch screen with a resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels. Many computers have 18 inch screens or bigger, which is a significant difference that should be considered. Because of this, when viewing training on a mobile device it may not feel and function as intended unless optimized for mobile.
Consider the device (iPad, iPhone, Android, Samsung tablet, etc) and make sure your program is compatible with each operating system. According to a study conducted by Business Insider Intelligence at the end of 2013, tablets are showing faster adoption rates than smartphones initially did, which is definitely something to take into consideration when designing a mobile learning program.
Keep in mind certain software programs, such as Adobe Flash, are not compatible across all devices. With this, it may be necessary to adjust the software being used in order to accommodate a range of devices. It should be noted, the way we interact with a PC versus a tablet or smartphone is different, so the technology you use may need to be adjusted too. When designing for tablets and/or smartphones, we need to make sure we are focusing on what kind of learning environment is being created. It should be sensitive to user interface differences and adjustments such as placing text entry fields at the top of the screen and converting rollover fields to single click selections with a ‘submit’ Button. Similarly, it is important to keep in mind how the user will affect the program. In most cases, a user’s hand or wrist will block some of the screen, so it should not be assumed that users will perform a specific action then quickly move their hand.
The user is perhaps the most important element of any mobile learning program. Because of this, you must consider their overall experience and expectations throughout each step of the development, design, and implementation process. What we mean by this is that mobile learning should be simple and fit-for-purpose. If the program is flexible, engaging, and gets the job done, the user should be motivated and take responsibility for what they need to know. Users respond well to real-time access to information in the palm of their hand, and they want up-to-date, credible content as well as technical stability and navigable applications. These expectations can be challenging, but if approached with the right mind frame and capabilities, they can be met.
If possible, observe how users hold the device you are designing for and make adjustments accordingly. It may be wise to consider ‘landscape’ view vs. ‘portrait’ view, depending on how interactive your course is and what device your learners are using. People have a very strong connected with their smartphones and tablets, and this affects their overall consumption habits and mindset. Consider their behaviors (for example, mobile users typically prefer to engage in short activity bursts) and pay extra attention to how they affect their overall experience.
When having a mobile learning course designed, be sure the interface is being designed for the device and make every effort to grab and keep your learner’s attention through various visual elements. Make sure the font is at least 14pt, use bold imagery, use icons and other graphics to represent content over text whenever possible. Remember, mobile devices have smaller screens and different technical specifications than PCs or laptops, so you will need to make the appropriate changes and adjustments to ensure the program not only works, but is presented in a way that holds the user’s interests and reaches your objectives.
Mobile learning programs and technology give organizations the opportunity to provide users with access to specific information that will help them develop an intended skill set. With this, we must be aware of the differences between developing a learning module for PCs versus mobile devices. By having a mobile analysis conducted, paying attention to your user and his or her needs, and focusing on interface functionality, you are one step closer to a successful mobile learning program.
Designing Digitally, Inc, works hard to ensure your training program is mobile friendly and there when your learners need it. To learn more about mobile training development and what mobile learning can do for your organization, contact us today!