In 2014, 20 percent of the world’s population owned a tablet device, with a growth rate of 30 percent from 2013. Desktop computers and laptops are predicted to lose popularity from 2016 onward as tablet sales soar, according to a Statsitica.com forecast for global shipments of tablets, laptops and desktop PCs from 2010 to 2019.
Until recently, companies needed to have a different website version for every device, which became increasingly complex, not to mention expensive, as more devices and technologies popped up, such as Android, iPhones and Kindles, to name a few. This was until the birth of responsive design, which uses HTML5 coding language to allow a single build to display and function on multiple devices, including desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
With screen real estate increasing, it seems that mobile devices might be ready to provide a sound e-learning experience. However, the question is, “Are YOU ready for responsive e-learning design?”
Let’s work through some of the big questions you should ask before taking your e-learning mobile.
1. Do you really need it?
Ask yourself, “What is the motivation of the organization your work for in offering mobile learning?” Using responsive design shouldn’t just be a statement that you are traveling with the times, it must be about adding value to the learning experience. The aim of mobile learning is to provide convenience to your learners, so if you don’t think they’ll benefit from the experience, it might not be the right time to jump on board.
2. Is your LMS available in a mobile-friendly format?
You might be ready for responsive e-learning design, but is your LMS? If your LMS isn’t available in a mobile-friendly format, it’s probably too early for you to make the move to go mobile. However, if you are willing to address this issue as part of your strategy, then you’re on your way.
3. Does your authoring tool allow for responsive design, or will you need to reinvest?
Check the capabilities of your current authoring tool. Does it support responsive design, including smartphone formats? If you need to invest in another tool to satisfy this purpose, will your corporate budget stretch this far and will the spend yield a return on investment? If you use an offsite development company, ask what their capabilities are and check to see if responsive design carries a larger price tag.
4. Will you need to restructure your courses to suit a mobile format?
Creating a mobile learning suite isn’t usually as easy as simply migrating current courses to the new format. Responsive design should be considered during the instructional design process. For example, because you are dealing with less screen real estate, content must be chunked accordingly and appropriate visual design and interactivity specified. Think of the situations your learners will be in when accessing learning, such as on the train commuting home or squeezing in a learning bite over coffee and then structure your courses to suit. Burst learning, a modular approach using bite-sized learning chunks, could be the way to go rather than traditional time-bound, focused modules.
5. How will your learners respond to mobile learning?
The last, but certainly not least, question links us back to the, “Do you really need it?” conversation. Think how your learners will adapt to learning on the move rather than in the workplace. Will they be as focused as you require them to be? Will key messages be absorbed effectively outside of the working environment? During this fragile time of technological change, the best solution might be to give your learners both options so they can learn in the way that best suits their needs.