Getting Started with Multi-Device E-Learning

Making desktop computer–only e-learning is a thing of the past. Today’s learners are device-agnostic. They use whichever device they have on hand at that moment, whether it’s a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone. If you want to get your training into the hands of the people who need it, when they need it, you have to make sure it works on any and every device.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already as convinced of this as I am. But just because you’re on board with the idea of multi-device e-learning doesn’t mean you know how to make it a reality in your organization.

Follow these three steps to get started and ensure a smooth transition into multi-device e-learning creation.

1. Ask the Right Questions

It’s tempting to forego any planning and dive right into building multi-device courses, but before you take the plunge it’s important to understand the impact of these changes in order to ensure you’ll be successful. Here are two fundamental questions to consider:

  1. Are your learners ready for multi-device e-learning? Use this helpful checklist to find out.
  2. Is your organization prepared for multi-device e-learning? Fill out this table to get your answer.

Shifting your organization to multi-device e-learning doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, but it’s crucial to think about these things ahead of time if you want to ensure a smooth transition.

2. Determine Your Approach

The two most widely used approaches in multi-device e-learning are web-based and slide-based learning. But how do you know which approach to adopt? Great question! The good news is, you don’t have to use the same approach for every project. Rather, you can switch between the two depending on your content and the learner’s needs. Let’s take a closer look at these two approaches and how to decide which is best suited for your project.

Slide-Based E-Learning

Slide-based e-learning has been the standard for a long time and is still commonly used today. You can create slide-based courses using apps like Storyline 360, which allow course designers to design content by placing text, images, videos, and other multimedia objects in specific spots on a slide.

Often, the relative positioning of objects is important in slide-based learning. For example, in the customer service course shown below it wouldn’t make sense for one of the characters to suddenly appear above the other instead of side by side:

Explore and download course template

For this reason, slide-based courses can be scaled up or down depending on screen size, but the objects on the slide should stay in the same position.

Here are a couple of examples of projects where it makes sense to favor a slide-based approach:

  • Courses where the relative positioning of objects on the screen is important, like in the above example.
  • Projects requiring a high level of design customization. One of the downsides of web-based e-learning is that because the content reflows automatically, you have less control over what your content looks like on each device. So if, for example, your client wants the logo to always appear in a specific position, a slide-based approach might be a better fit.

Web-Based E-Learning

Web-based e-learning is a more modern form of online training that’s become popular in recent years. Web-based courses look and behave like mini-websites instead of a series of slides where learners click Next to advance. In addition to being more intuitive, web-based e-learning is often fully responsive, meaning the content dynamically adapts and reflows depending on the screen size. Some authoring apps, like Rise 360, allow you create inherently responsive courses without any programming skills.

Why is responsive design unique to web-based courses? Because unlike with slide-based e-learning, the relative positioning of text and objects in web-based courses doesn’t matter. This makes it easy to reflow the content based on screen size and orientation without distorting the message. If that all seems a little abstract to you, check out this example of a web-based e-learning course made in Rise 360 to get a better idea of what a responsive learning experience is like:

Explore and copy example

Here are some types of projects where a web-based approach would be appropriate:

  • Simple, straightforward courses where relative positioning of objects is irrelevant. For example, if you have a text and an associated image but the message remains the same whether the image is above, below, or beside the text.
  • Video-based courses. Since the content is embedded within the video, when the course is reflowed there won’t be any issues.
  • How-to courses. The goal of this kind of course is to help learners understand how to do something. Process, timeline, tabs, and accordion interactions are the perfect way to motivate learners to lean forward and pull the content they need. These kinds of interactions are easy to reflow for different screen sizes without changing the meaning.
  • Quizzes. Quiz questions follow a standard format (a question with some possible choices), so making them responsive is a cinch!

3. Choose the Right App

There are tons of e-learning apps out there touting their ability to help you create great multi-device and mobile courses. If you’ve never built e-learning for multiple devices before, it can be challenging to decide which one best suits your needs. Here are some key things to consider when you’re weighing your options:

  • Does the app allow you to create courses that look beautiful and work perfectly on any and all devices or do you have to use “supported” devices? Limiting learners to specific devices is nearly impossible, so it’s important to choose an authoring software that allows you to build courses that work on any device.
  • Does the app automatically adjust your course so it works on all screen sizes or do you have to tweak your content manually? Your time is precious. You don’t want to spend hours making sure your content looks flawless on every possible device your learners might use. Go with an app that does the heavy lifting for you, like Rise 360 or Storyline 360. With Rise 360 you can create inherently responsive courses automatically and then just pop in your content. And with Storyline 360 you can create slide-based courses and the course player automatically resizes depending on the screen size.
  • Does the app optimize screen space by hiding or minimizing non-essential elements (like browser and navigation buttons) on smaller devices? Resizing your course is only half the battle. Have you ever noticed how the navigation on mobile sites is different than their desktop counterparts? It only makes sense that your e-learning course’s navigation be optimized as well, so your content is always front and center. Make sure this is a feature your authoring app offers.

Here’s a comparison worksheet to help you evaluate the different apps you’ve heard about. And here’s another article with tips on other, more general things to consider when choosing your authoring software: Top Considerations for Choosing the Right E-Learning Authoring App.

Go Forth and Create Multi-Device E-Learning

Making the shift to multi-device e-learning might seem intimidating, but armed with these tips you’ve got everything you need to make the transition a success. Just relax, take it one step at a time, and you’ll be a multi-device e-learning pro before you know it!

Here are some related resources that will help you hone your multi-device e-learning skills even further:

If you have any questions or comments, please share them below. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.