Over the weekend I came across this fascinating article that really got me thinking about how we should approach the design of mobile learning (mLearning). In this article (referenced below), Hamish McKenzie, makes a case for why the acquisition of Instagram by Facebook marks a new shift in computing and how Internet Historians one day will look back at this era, as the time when we moved from Web 2.0 to the new Age of Mobile.
I strongly believe mobile played a big role in Facebook’s decision to acquire Intagram so I agree with McKenzie.
I also believe that each new era in computing brings challenges and mobile is no different. With obvious constraints, such as smaller screens, different platforms and multiple devices to target, unreliable connections, etc. Mobile experiences are radically different from traditional desktop experiences and thus it’s important to approach the transition to mLearning thinking that our learners on mobile are used to and expect different things from us.
It’s human nature to bring existing principals we feel comfortable with as we face new paradigm shifts. In eLearning and mLearning terms, this means that as we transition to mLearning, it might seem obvious to try and apply what has traditionally worked in eLearning into the smaller screen, but I would advice against that. Instead I would recommend that you embrace mobile with all of its constraints and think in terms of doing MORE with mobile.
I believe in this article, McKenzie makes an excellent point about how we should think about designing for mobile and I feel these same principals apply to all of us in mLearning:
Now we need services that require less typing, fewer buttons, simple swipe and pinch actions, browsing that seamlessly integrates vertical and horizontal movement, larger images, and fewer data hooks that clutter up the user experience.
So there you go, as you begin to analyze your existing eLearning and think about how to create the next generation of learning experiences for the mobile screens, think less is more, and think about creating experiences that require less typing, fewer buttons, simple swipe and pinch actions and how to create responsive content that adapts to difference screens.