11 Common Issues When Designing Mobile Courses (part 1)

Smart phones and tablets are predicted to take over while laptops and desktops will become a thing of the past.  It is now becoming more important to create courses for mobile devices.  While there are many similarities between mlearning and elearning, there are quite a few things to be aware of when designing mobile courses that are not factors when designing for computers.

Spread information out – When a course is created using existing materials designed for classroom use, one mistake I see over and over again is that the material is not changed.  It is then imported into the LMS as a course and the instructor calls it a day.

Both with mlearning and elearning, materials must be modified for the situation.  I could probably write an entire blog post on this point alone, so I’ll be brief.  Content created for classroom learning tends to either be too dense for a learner to grasp all points or will only include partial information intended to be paired with a lecture, leaving the learner confused.

With elearning some minor modifications may solve this.  But with mobile learning, because the content will be shown in a small space, each topic must have a specific point and deliver the point as simply as possible.

Lead with important information – In some cases, it may be difficult to deliver small bits of information. If this is the case, lead with the most important pieces.  One reason why mLearning is so appealing is it can be done in a short amount of time.  If a learner is unable to finish a course, you want to ensure they are able to absorb the most important information first.

Buttons and links for fingers – When creating anything that a learner needs to “click” with their finger, be sure that it is large enough for them to “click” with a finger.  Small buttons or links may be as easily clicked with a finger as they would be when using a cursor on a computer. Also, be sure that buttons, check boxes and radio buttons are not close together.  This can cause a user to accidentally select the wrong option which may lead to frustration.

In an ideal situation, choose an authoring tool, such as Rapid Intake, that allows swiping on mobile devices.

Be careful when selecting images – Although images can help hit a concept home (a picture is worth a thousand words), when it comes to mobile, if the right image is not used, there are quite a few issues that can occur.

Since a learner may take the course anywhere with a variance of lighting, including in the sun, don’t use images that may be difficult to see with a glare.  Particularly dark images, images that do not have contrast or images with a lot of detail.  I am a huge fan of images in learning to help make an idea stick, but if it is just going to make the learner frustrated trying to figure out what the image is, skip it.

Limit assessments – One of the appeals of mLearning is that learning becomes a snack.  It is small and can be digested in a few bites or a few minutes.  Creating a long assessment defeats the purpose of mLearning.  If a lot of content needs to be covered during an assessment, break it up into smaller pieces throughout the course.

In addition, assessments should have limited typing if at all as the user experience for typing on a mobile device can be cumbersome.

Less is more – The quicker you can pass the information to the learner the better they will grasp it.  As expressed above, mLearning is a snack, not a five course meal.  Delete any information that may not be important.