WHAT DRIVES THE NEED FOR MOBILE?
There some good reasons to build for mobile—and some that are not as good. M-learning is not a magic potion that can somehow make any course shorter, simpler, or more accessible. The need for mobile development is determined by the realities of your learners’ environments, and it should be on a platform reflective of their needs. If your learners will be on their feet or in the field and require training resources at the point of need, then mobile learning is a good choice.
Before making a decision either way, ask yourself these questions about the need for mobile:
- Will your learners be interacting with the training in moments of opportunity between tasks during the work day? People like retail associates or food service workers can engage in training on a tablet when time allows and remain available to attend to customers when the need arises.
- Are your learners often traveling or working remotely? For learners like sales representatives, product knowledge games and quizzes optimized for mobile could be a great fit.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼WHAT CONTENT IS BEST FOR MOBILE?
Ideally, mobile content is delivered to the learner in bite-sized modules to be used during the “in- between” times. Think about it: just because you enjoy watching the latest episode of a late-night talk show on your smartphone during your daily train ride doesn’t mean you’ll get the same satisfaction from pulling up a three-hour epic intended for the big screen. On a tiny screen, the blockbuster spectacle just doesn’t work. Those sweeping aerial shots reduce the actors to little more than specks. Then, when you consider the movie’s length, well, you might not even get through a single scene before your commute is over. The big-screen epic doesn’t lend itself to the mobile platform’s tiny screen, or the shorter engagement periods that accompany it. The same thing is true when you try to squeeze a lengthy, in-depth course with complex and interrelated content onto a mobile device.
On the other hand, a late-night talk show’s opening monologue, skits, interviews, and performances can still be quite entertaining when viewed in the palm of your hand. It’s a short program that’s broken into even smaller segments. Just like a late-night talk show, the m-learning experience lends itself to content doled out in portions that can be swiftly completed during those “in-between” times.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Additionally, you should consider if your material would gain any practical benefits from mobile-specific features. Tablets and smartphones have numerous qualities that aren’t part of the desktop experience, and great mobile learning makes the most of them. For example:
- Interfaces that maximize touch or swipe functionality
- Designs that incorporate geo-location or check-in features
- Games that integrate motion sensitivity
These aspects should not be bells and whistles to adorn your content. They should be an integral part of the design for delivering your content in the best way possible.
WHAT IF YOU WANT TO TRACK YOUR MOBILE eLEARNING USAGE?
If you want your mobile eLearning tracked in the traditional sense, meaning that it launches from a Learning Management System (LMS), you should consider building a mobile-compatible website.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼WHEN SHOULD YOU CONSIDER A NATIVE APP?
A native app is stored locally on a device and has the ability to operate independently of Internet connectivity. If a course is media- intensive and performance is of paramount concern, native apps will outperform mobile-optimized websites on a tablet or phone.
Another vital aspect to consider is the availability of internet access for your learners. Learners who travel to remote places or work in locales where Wifi is spotty could benefit from a native app that does not require an Internet connection to function.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼HOW WILL MOBILE DEVELOPMENT AFFECT YOUR TIMELINE?
For the most part, this depends upon the number of devices you wish to support. In general, developing for additional devices takes additional time. Most of this added time will be spent in the quality assurance (QA) phase. A course must be thoroughly tested on every device on which it will be deployed to ensure a consistent, quality experience. Because of this, it’s important to identify the specific devices your learners use and develop for those core platforms.