Your Mobile Learning Solution? (Share Yours.)

Hi,

Do you provide a mobile learning solution?

Are you publishing your Storyline course with the intent your course will be consumed on a mobile device?

Yes/No?

If yes, can you briefly describe the scope of your mobile solution. Are you happy with it? Are you happy with the mobile experience compared to your typical—everyday—phone or tablet experience (Apps you use and websites you visit)? Are your learners happy with it when they consume it on their phone/tablet?

If no, why is mobile out of scope? Inexperience designing for mobile? Your course doesn't look good (or feel right) on a phone? Your organization doesn't care about mobile?

I'm trying to get a feel for what others are experiencing and think about mobile and the solutions at our disposal to provide a great mobile learning experience.

Best,

Ryan

 

 

8 Replies
Alexandros Anoyatis

It's been quite a mixed ride for me lately. Some designs work great, some ok, and some don't work at all, but I can't always pinpoint the reason why (lower end devices, outdated OS's, Storyline bugs, Jquery inconsistencies, bloated slides or media sizes).

As far as I'm concerned, I treat html5 compatibility as a seperate project altogether, unless specifically required to design for both (or html5 only) right from the get go. When doing so, I try to test early and often, and always try to keep expectations low in certain areas.

Having said that, some practices translate great to html5. As time goes by, I use JS for a good portion of my triggers panel (for example, use a single JS trigger to check/change the status of multiple variables upon slide start, instead of using 5,10, or 50 triggers to do what is essentially the same exact thing).

On a higher lever, here's my overall view. I like tablets, and love the portability aspect. Is mobile learning achievable? Yes. Is it really effective? I think the jury is still out on this one. Being fully aware I might draw the ire of a lot of folks around here, I'm just not convinced it can be effective when applied in practice.

Take a look at compliance courses for example. As a supervisor/manager, I would sleep better at night knowing my staff/learners took a course on their desktop/laptop in a quiet room somewhere, rather than a tablet in the coffee shop downstairs or underground station. Again, I'm probably nitpicking here but...I see it more as a recreational tool myself. Having said that, the fact is a lot of people use their tablets for business or learning,  So chances are, I'm biased. :)

From a tech perspective let's not confuse native apps with websites, the experience is totally different. Performance-wise "App" trumps "in-browser html5" every single day of the week. Which I suspect is part of the reason we have "Articulate Mobile Player" in the first place.

From a developer perspective Articulate has done a good job trying to match html5 output as closely as possible to it's flash counterpart considering the fact that it had to focus on flash output as the #1 priority. Let's not forget html5 was only added during the late stages of the Storyline 1 beta, therefore it's fairly safe to assume that the original development roadmap did not include html5. I would expect this to have made a huge difference going forward.

Hopefully Storyline 3 (whenever that happens) will be an html5 only tool - this is where it should really be put to the test.

But it's all theory for now. No-one knows what the future will bring. I would have loved better/clever...er html5 optimisation in Storyline too, but overall it doesn't do a half-bad job conforming to a spec that has not yet reached final draft status and isn't expected to be finalized before 2022*...!

The only thing I can suggest is to carefully manage client expectations on html5. We haven't had a standardized web for 20+ years and (unfortunately) it doesn't look like this will change any time soon; thus, it will be unfair to ask of our Rapid e-learning Tools to do so, or promise our clients anything close to that.

Just my 2 - very long - cents,
Alex


(*) Nothing against html5 - the 2022 date is part of a macro-level milestone, which probably doesn't even matter now, but I loved how it fit the sentence. :P

David Tait

You speak a lot of sense Alexandros.

For the purpose of this discussion I'm using smart phones as my mobile device as tablets, by and large, offer most things a PC can, including a big enough screen to view the content on. File size is an obvious exception as many people use cellular networks to get on line on a tablet but file size optimisation is something we should all be mindful of any way. I'm also assuming that the project is being built in Storyline.

Personally I think there is a place for e-learning on mobile, but I don't think it is always a good idea to simply re-use the same content, interactions and screen layouts as we do for PC/tablet devices. This argument might change if the Articulate Mobile Player app was avaiable on smart phones as you'd at least be able to pinch and zoom your course to get an enlarged view if needs be.

I think that to give the user the best experience, e-learning courses that are going to be deployed to mobile should be assessed to determine whether a mobile-specific version should be built. In some cases a single version will be fine but in others it may be that the structure needs to change to accomodate the smaller screen size available, i.e. what you can fit on a single slide on the PC version may well make up the content for three slides at the smaller screen size for a mobile device. If this happens, and you already have a 20 slide e-learn, most people would be reluctant to triple the slide count for a whole host of reasons.

Some of the questions I might run through if I was reviewing an existing course being considered for mobile usage are:

  • Can you edit your content to make it more concise without losing the message? If you can, can this be applied to the main version too?
  • If you've used any more elaborate interactions (drag and drop etc) for knowledge checks/assessments, can they be converted to simple MCQs to make it easier to use on a mobile device
  • Can on-screen text be substituted for voiceover without making the download size un-workable?
  • Does the mobile version need to be fully interactive, i.e. could you create a PDF or HTML version that allows the user to view the text/graphics, with a caveat that they'll get a better experience viewing on a PC/tablet.

This is a topic that really interests me and one that is relevant to almost all e-learning developers.

Has any one out there been asked to develop a Storyline course that is only for use on a smart phone, i.e. one that does not have any other versions for any other devices?

Felicity Steele

I genuinely like Storyline and have used it as my main development tool for over three years. However, I am now having to sideline it because of  the issues it has working with iPads. Lectora is now my tool of choice as I have a large user group who are now issued with iPads. They are expected to logon to an LMS to gain their content and I can't see Storyline has a resolution for the issues this causes.

Alexandros Anoyatis

If your audience is mobile only, then you could go without the arrows by simulating (faux-)swipe functionality.

All you will need is three fairly large dragable hotspots, the middle of which occupies ~90% of your screen area while the other two are located in the left/right-most areas. Then use triggers to get to the next or previous slide upon drag, as necessary.

Hope this helps,
Alex