6 Reasons Why Responsive Design Makes sense as the Future of e-Learning and m-Learning Design

OMD research: viewers switch devices regularly while the TV is on (Image credit: Nathan Daniels)

OMD research: viewers switch devices regularly while the TV is on (Image credit: Nathan Daniels)

 

How many devices do you own?

For me, the answer is a whole lot, perhaps too many.

I have two iPads, two iPhones, a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10″, a Nexus 7, a Moto X, an old Motorola Xoom, three Kindles, a touch-enabled Windows 8 laptop, two Apple MacBook Pro laptops, an iMac and a Windows 8 PC.

What about you, how many devices do you own?

If you answered more than one, we are not alone here. According to Cisco, by the end of 2014, the number of mobile-connected devices exceeded the number of people on earth, and by 2017, there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita.

What’s your time to screen in the morning? In other words, how long does it take from the time you open your eyes in the morning to the time you reach for one of your devices?

How would you describe your daily use of mobile devices? If you are like me, you probably start with your smallest device and work your way up slowly until you get to your PC. Also, if you are like me, you probably find yourself doing more and more work on your mobile devices and less and less on your PC.

How many times do you pick up your smartphone throughout the day?

Here’s another one.

How many times do you reach for your smartphone even when you are in front of a fully capable Mac or PC computer?

Tecmark Survey finds the average user picks up their smartphone 221 times a day? How close are you to this number?

How many times do you find yourself switching between devices, especially at home when watching television?

Another survey found that People change the device they are using an average of 21 times an hour when they are at home, according to findings from OMD UK’s Future of Britain research project.

To say that Mobile has been a game-changer in our lives is an understatement. Today more and more of us live our lives across multiple screens.

According to Google, 90% of users use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish a task over time.

So what does this have to do with Learning Design?

The answer is simple, we live in a multi-device, multi-screen world and we need to embrace it and design learning with this reality in mind! In other words, simply designing e-Learning for a desktop computer is no longer a viable option!

One positive change I have noticed in the past two years, is that we have gone from asking ‘why should I care about Mobile Learning?’ to ‘how should I design Mobile Learning?’ and that is great news.

Here’s another powerful truth that will make you think twice about your current learning design strategy. Today you don’t get to decide which devices Learners use to access your learning!

So How Should We Design Mobile Learning?

When you consider the new multi-device, multi-screen world we live in and the idea that we no longer get to control which devices learners want to use to access our learning, the answer to this question becomes quite obvious. We need to design learning that is intelligent, flexible and fluid to work everywhere and on any device, content that is device-agnostic if you will.

Here’s what I wrote about this in my previous post:

This is how we should view the future of learning design and consumption, we should focus on designing learning that is flexible and fluid across multiple screens; intelligent learning, that always points learners to a single URL, and avoid at all cause the need for installing different native apps for different mobile operating systems, in order for learners to access the learning.

via 10 Things Adobe gets Right about Mobile Learning with Captivate 8 [Review] | The mLearning Revolution Blog.

This is why I’m excited about Responsive Web Design (RWD) and why I believe it makes perfect sense as the future of Learning Design in the 21st century because it takes all of these trends into consideration.

This is also why I encourage you to choose your Learning Design tools wisely and lean towards those with support for Responsive Learning Design, for example, the new Adobe Captivate 8.

Here are some more reasons why Responsive Web Design makes sense in Learning Design:

1. The Web. No Apps. No Downloads.

The first reason why Responsive Web Design makes sense for designing future learning is that it’s web-based, which means that your learning will be accessible via a single URL. For your Learners, it means they won’t need a mobile app to consume the learning. This is especially important when you consider if you choose to distribute learning through a native mobile app, learners will need to have an app per mobile OS, i.e Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone, etc.

2. One Learning. Multiple Devices.

When you adopt e-Learning and m-Learning Design tools that support Responsive Web Design, you don’t have to worry about building and maintaining multiple projects, each targeting different devices with different resolutions and screen sizes. With tools that support Responsive Learning projects, you simply build and maintain a single project, publish it and that’s it. Learners will access your learning in the same way they have in the past, through a web browser, and by using the device of their choice.

3. Responsive Web Design is LMS friendly

Another advantage of continuing to design learning around web technologies is that your mobile learning is Learning Management System (LMS) friendly, which means that you don’t have to switch LMS vendors in order to create learning modules that will be accessible anytime, anywhere and from any device.

4. Simple Publishing

By embracing Responsive Web Design, you don’t have to worry about specific publishing options for different learners, using different browsers, technology, devices, mobile OSes and screen sizes.

Take for example Articulate Storyline 2 which does not support Responsive Design and Adobe Captivate 8, which does. In Captivate 8, when you create Learning based on the new Responsive Project option, you simply select File > Publish, give it a name and click Publish. That’s all there is to it. The learning can now be viewed on any device, desktop computers and laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones. Just the way it should be.

In Captivate 8, when you create Learning based on the new Responsive Project option, you simply select File > Publish, give it a name and click Publish. That’s all there is to it. The learning can now be viewed on any device, desktop computers and laptops, Tablets, and Smartphones. Just the way it should be.

In Articulate Storyline, things are not so simple.

Case in point, here’s an excerpt from a Storyline web page, explaining what you need to keep in mind whenever you target different scenarios, like whether the learner has a device that support Flash, or a browser that supports for HTML5 or their proprietary mobile app, the Articulate Mobile Player:

Step 3: Choose HTML5 and/or Mobile Publishing Options

If learners will view content on a device that doesn’t support Flash, use the following options to make your course viewable in HTML5, the Articulate Mobile Player app, or both.

Include HTML5 output: This prepares your course so that it’s viewable as HTML5 content. Bear in mind that not all web browsers handle HTML5 content equally. See this article for supported HTML5 browsers.

Use Articulate Mobile Player for iOS or Android: This prepares your course so learners have the best viewing experience on iPads and Android tablets, using Articulate’s free mobile player app.

via Publishing a Course for Web – E-Learning Heroes.

As I said in my previous post, Articulate and Adobe approach mobile learning design very differently and while I applaud both companies for taking different routes, in my humble opinion, I feel that Adobe is winning in the space of Mobile Learning by embracing Responsive Web Design.

5. Happier Learners

I mentioned above that as Learning Designers we cannot control what devices our Learners will use to access our learning and that we need to design with this truth in mind. When you design learning that is intelligent and fluid regardless of the device and the size of the screen, the result is happy learners.

6. Responsive Web Design is future-proof

7 years ago we were blindsided by the speed with which the mobile revolution took over, and while we don’t know exactly what the future of computing holds for us, one thing is for sure, we will continue to see more and more mobile smartphones, tablets, touch-enabled computers, oh and the wearables are coming, too. The number of different screen sizes between all of these devices will continue to increase and the only way to future-proof our learning design is by designing fluid content that can scale intelligently across all of these screens!

The number of different screen sizes between all of these devices will continue to increase, and the only way to future-proof our learning design is by designing fluid content that can scale intelligently across all of these screens!

Conclusion

For a long time, I have thought that the e-Learning and m-Learning tools that support Responsive Web Design principles would win big in this space and was always disappointed that with every new version, vendors would come out of their software, no one was implementing RWD. Fast forward 3 years later and here we are now living in exciting times, where software vendors are now taking mLearning design very seriously.

I am especially excited about Adobe Captivate 8 and I encourage you to download a trial and give the new Responsive Project features a try, it is really well done. When I first tried it, I realized this is the version of Captivate that I have been waiting for a long time.

Over to you

Where are you right now in terms of adopting a more holistic, multi-screen, multi-device learning design strategy, and what are your thoughts on Responsive Learning Design?

Please chime in below and share this post.

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  • Ashford University

    Where are you right now in terms of adopting a more holistic, multi-screen, multi-device learning design strategy, and what are your thoughts on Responsive Learning Design?

  • Responsive web design gives continuity to their knowledge updation by presenting the website into all the devices.

  • Mike Alcock

    If you want truly responsive HTML5 and collaborative development take a look at gomo learning. One course, every screen size, every orientation, no redesign.

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