11 Common Issues When Designing Mobile Courses (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this series I explained some common design issues with mobile courses.  This part discusses the technical aspects or the parts that can cause your course to just not work.

Test, test, test – This is more of a solution than a problem, but unless you know for sure you can’t expect all your learners to be using the same mobile devices.  They could be using an iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire or any of the other thousands of tablet or mobile device on the market today.  They may be using Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer or many other browsers.  Testing as many possibilities as you can think of will help to reduce technical problems along the way.

Also, be aware of what browsers and operating systems your LMS and authoring tool(s) support and don’t support.  Then inform your learners of any limitations.

HTML5 – For those who are using SCORM or Flash modules, this is crucial.  Due to Steve Job’s influence with mobile devices, in 2011 Adobe announced they would stop supporting Flash for mobile devices.  This means that Flash will not work on any mobile device.

But do not fret!  HTML5 not only can do a lot of the cool stuff that Flash use to be known for, but because it runs through the browser and is not downloaded to the device, most browsers on a mobile device will support HTML5, including both Safari and Chrome. In addition many authoring tools now allow content to be exported as HTML5 instead of Flash.  However, verify this with your authoring tool before making the assumption that courses can be exported as HTML5.

Download of material – Most mobile devices do not allow the download of anything not authorized by them.  Although online learning usually does not consist of downloadable content and therefore may not be as important of a restriction, keep this in mind for situations where you expect learners to download handouts, certificates, or complete an exercise outside of the LMS.

Keep download time in mind – Unlike with computers, the mobile device will only be able to access the courses using 3G or wifi.  As anyone who has ever used 3G and wifi is aware of, different places and networks will have different levels of internet strength.  Limit frustration from learners by limiting the size of modules and content that will be streamed.  This is best accomplished by cutting the modules into smaller pieces.

Size of content –  When content is viewed on a mobile device many LMS’s will resize it to fit the screen it is being viewed on.  However, you may want to be aware of any changes that may occur when it is being viewed on a mobile device.  Again, test as many devices as possible before making a course live.  If the content is being cut off, contact your LMS support to gather more information as to why this may be occurring.

This is the list of issues I have made, however there are bound to be more.  What are the issue(s) that you have discovered while creating mobile courses?