mobile-optimized e-learning template

When I was in Austin, Texas last week at mLearnCon 2015, I presented a session on how to build a mobile-optimized e-learning template in just five easy steps using Articulate Storyline 2—and it was very well-received! A few people who couldn’t attend came by the Articulate booth afterwards to find out if there were any slides or handouts. I didn’t have anything at the time, but made a mental note to recap my session and share my example right here in the E-Learning Heroes community.

Let me walk you through the super simple five-step process I followed to create a mobile-friendly template.

Step 1: Resize Your Story

The first thing I did was to pop into the Design tab on the Ribbon and choose the Story Size button. From there you can resize your slide or stage to be any resolution or size you need it to be. In my case, I designed my course specifically for the iPhone 4S and wanted the course to be viewed in Portrait mode (as opposed to Landscape), so I set my Story Size to 640 x 940 pixels. You can use Google to quickly find the resolution size for any device out there.

The next thing I did was to jump into my Player Properties. Notice how the menu appears on the left-hand side of the player, by default? Well, keep in mind that this will add a couple hundred pixels to the total width of the course—and in portrait mode, the menu would eat up valuable real estate. So I adjusted my Player so there are no menu, links, or buttons along the top or bottom of my player.

It’s super easy to my Player look “seamless” or “invisible” by making the entire Player the same, solid light-grey color and also using that same shade of light grey as the browser fill color. I also got rid of the default Next and Prev button by editing the Slide Properties for each slide in my course.

Step 2: Add Custom Navigation

Since I like to make my Player look invisible and free of the default navigation buttons, I need to create my own custom navigation. This is actually very simple to do in Storyline.

First thing I did was to jump into the Slide Master. It’s much easier to create your navigation on the slide master and build out all of your triggers once, rather than duplicate the buttons and triggers on every slide in your course. Then, I created a slick navigation layout that has a simple rectangle shape and two buttons: a next and a back button.

Now, keep in mind that on some slides I might only need a Next or a Prev button, and on other slides I might need a different navigation scheme altogether. So I also created three additional Layouts: one with only a next button, one with only a back button, and one layout with only my rectangle background shape and no buttons at all. This gives me more flexibility in my course design later.

Step 3: Insert Multimedia

The next thing I did was to pop in a few content slides to display some course content. Showing a lot of content is easy by building in some simple layers. I created a slide with three layers and added three buttons to link to the three layers. On each layer I added some imagery, text, and a video.

If you need tips about what types of multimedia and how you should design your mobile courses, check out this article: Best Practices for Designing Mobile Learning Like a Pro.

Step 4: Create Interactivity

My next step was to add some interactivity by creating a simple drag-and-drop interaction. Just pop in a few rectangle shapes to create some drag items and a drop target. When your shapes are in place, click the Convert to Freeform button from the Insert tab on the Ribbon to convert your basic slide into a fully functional quizzing slide, complete with feedback layers.

Then, simply customize your feedback layers and pop in your own custom Submit button. Does setting up the Submit button sounds complicated? It’s actually quite simple. Just set up the trigger on your Submit button to look like this:

Here are a few additional links to articles and tutorials about working with Freeform slides:

Step 5: Publish For Mobile

If your content’s all set, you’re ready to Publish! Just head on over to the Publish button on the ribbon and choose your options. If you’re publishing for mobile, you’ll probably want to make sure the HTML5 and/or Articulate Mobile Player option have been selected before you publish. Here are a few tutorials to help you publish your courses:

And voila! You’re done!

Creating e-learning courses using a mobile-optimized template really is as simple as that! Have you tried creating your own? Share your experience in the comments below!

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate software? Download a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

Carl Lummis-Blaxell