While m-learning or mobile learning is considered learning that takes place on a mobile device, many people only think of a cellphone as the prime device. However, people can also learn on tablets, iPads, and even smartwatches. Basically, m-learning encompasses any device that you can learn on and can fit in your pocket.
Wireless technology provides the opportunity for educators to present new content to learners wherever they are located (West, 2013). While the convenience of learning on the go and at-will seems beneficial for the learner, it can present challenges for designers due to differences in screen resolution and varying levels of quality and sizes (Legault, 2014).
Since there are so many mobile devices on the market these days, it is impossible to create a one-size-fits-all e-learning design that will successfully operate across all mobile platforms and devices. There are, however, some best practices that learning designers can follow to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of their design across their target audiences specified devices.
First and foremost, surveying what devices the training or learning experience will be accessed from is crucial. For example, for my students, 80% of them have access to a laptop; however, that leaves 20% who only have a smartphone for learning. This means specific platforms that we use can’t be accessed by 2 out of every 10 students. While that may not seem like very much, when this issue is looked at in the context of test preparation, it is very alarming when even one individual can’t do the work necessary to prepare for their test.
Don’t forget to think about the user experience, use of imagery, font choice, buttons, and input fields.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have tried to access some sort of learning on a mobile device and realized that it is not mobile-friendly. Either the images are offset or take up to much space; the font is too large or too small and when you zoom in it gets bigger, but there is no scroll option to see the rest of the sentence; or the input fields are located to close to something else like an ad or exit button, and you accidentally click the ad or exit the course, instead of submitting the form.
To avoid these blunders;
- Use appropriately sized images (there’s generally a recommended size in the program)
- Select 14 point font as the minimum size (and make sure it looks good on the web). Check out this article “The best professional fonts to use for your website” by Emma Norris for a list of examples and samples.
- It is recommended that a designer leave at least 10 pixels worth of space around buttons (Legault, 2014).
Check out this short course on User Experience design (UX)
While the information herein is not extensive, here is one final piece of advice when creating mobile learning: consider the bandwidth of your learners. It is best practice to optimize and compress all audio and video files to allow for expedited mobile experiences (Legault, 2014). You will lose your learner if it takes too long to load an image or video. One of the main reasons for accessing learning on a mobile device is for convenience, so make sure it is convenient for them!
For more great mobile learning tips, check out “Best Practices for Designing Mobile Learning Like a Pro” by Nicole Legault.
Legault, N. (2014). Best practices for designing mobile learning like a pro. Retrieved from https://community.articulate.com/articles/design-mobile-learning-like-a-pro-best-practices-for-mlearning
West, D.M. (2013). Mobile learning: Transforming education, engaging students, and improving outcomes. Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/BrookingsMobileLearning_Final.pdf