Designing e-Learning for Mobile Devices - Best Practices

Apr 11, 2011

With Articulate able to publish to Flash Lite 3 and Android devices with Flash, and with Storyline coming soon with iOS/HTML5 support (as well as a new Suite later in the year), I'm wondering if we need a thread on best practices for designing m-learning.

How is designing for m-learning different than designing for a "regular" monitor screen?  What things are the same?

I admit, I'm a neophyte in this area.    Anyone got any best practices, web links, resources, thoughts, things you've tried that work, etc., that you'd like to share?

12 Replies
Benjamin Brown

I have built a few in HTML and the best advice is to remember the device. Silly, I know, but certainly hotspots are something you may want to avoid. Big buttons are a must for navigation. The problem arises with assessment. Even with multiple choice answers you may be limited to 3 answers depending on question, screen design etc.

Also compatibility is a problem with Apple as well. It is frustrating for very well versed learners not to be able to use their iPhone or pad to get content -- that's why we've always done mobile in HTML. You can use Google App inventor to build some cool Android apps, but you still have not solved the Apple problem. Soon, though, I think software cos will gt on board with the one development platform, many outputs solution... we shall see.

Lisa Bethard

That's really good advice Benjamin.  

Also, I wanted to share some information I heard regarding best practices:

  • Keep lessons to a max of 15-20 minutes.  5-10 minute chunks is better.
  • Put the controls for the navigatioin at the top so that the user can easily push them when holding the device.
  • Think about how learners will want to view the course (landscape view vs. portrait view)
  • Don't use blue or green colors to do navigation (buttons) to accommodate for those folks that are blue/green color blind.

I'll add more when I know more.   

susan cappelloni

I am also looking for the mobile solution for both platforms.  How do you develop a product for both without the duplication of efforts.  We want lean production here!  With such a diverse usage of tablets now, how can you limit to what the student will have.  Do you make the Apple user's buy the other tablets?  I don't thing this will happen.

Come on Apple, forget about the Flash thing and make it helpful for us developers to do our jobs.  My $.02.

Any and all information from these blogs are helpful for me.  Thanks all!

Kristen Hull

I just read a book that I'd like to suggest.  It is geared toward creating Help (our technical writer  shared it with me), as opposed to creating mLearning, but it definitely has some valuable information in it.

"Developing User Assistance for Mobile Applications" by Joe Welinske  

You can find it here: 

Steve Flowers

I think audio and video are great on most devices. Anything tuned for a large screen probably won't deliver a good experience (Powerpoint, long documents). Brief interactions that display very little on the screen at a time, offer limited choices, and leverage presentation elements that are easily distinguished on a small screen probably work out better. The typical PPT conversion will likely produce a frustrating experience unless it's designed with small screen in mind.

Reading on devices isn't always the most comfortable activity. I'd say stick with media that minimizes the necessity to pinch zoom or scroll on smaller devices. I think there's some data out there that indicates how many folks with portable devices actually read with them (I know there are quite a few that do, but I think the data shows most do not). This is particularly important for those still toting around the old Blackberry. I read somewhere that this is the most prevalent mobile device. That screen is excruciatingly small. People read email on it, sure. But they are nuts Ever seen a crackberry-head in a meeting? Pretty funny:)

Nick Varney

Such an important topic and an area of development that is set to grow.

I have found this useful page on Quora which explores the vital elements needed to make m-learning work and there's a lot of discussion that appreciating and factoring-in 'context' is crucial.

Sharon FultonBevers

Hi, Just read a GREAT book on this called Mobile first by Luke Wroblewski. Like it says, you design for mobile first. And it has pictures to show you the difference good clear design can make.

I am not a tech person and found this very helpful. You can even download it to a phone to read!

Thanks for your great tips here, too. I'm learning lots.

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