Learning Designers have 3 Choices Regarding Mobile Learning [#mLearning]

Last week Cisco published a research paper entitled “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017,” which included some staggering figures, as to the speed with which we are adopting internet-connected mobile devices around the world.

Among the statistics provided in the report, one in particular stood out to me, namely:

By the end of 2013, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2017 there will be nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita.

Amazing statistic and one that bodes well for all of us in Learning Design, who want to seize the huge potential mobile ubiquity represent for our Industry.

This report got me thinking about what this mobile future means to our Learning Industry, and I concluded that as Learning Designers, we basically have 3 choices regarding the need to mobilize learning:


Do Nothing

It’s entirely possible to dismiss the mobile revolution as a passing fad and, as learning designers do nothing about it. We can hope that our learners will continue using traditional PCs to access the training we develop, and that they never try to access our content via mobile devices. However, the reality is that we have no control over what devices they will use and we need to be ready for that scenario, especially in a world that is increasingly mobile.

Incidentally, if your existing learning is Flash-based and your learners try to access it on mobile devices, this is what they are seeing:



Convert, Shrink and Retrofit your existing desktop e-Learning for mobile devices

It’s hard to imagine something worse than doing nothing, but I actually think that converting exactly what you have today on the desktop to HTML5, in order to shrink it down for smartphones and tablets, is a pretty bad choice, too.

Why? Because the overall experience for the learner on mobile is going to be a very unpleasant one. Think about the last time you went to a website that wasn’t optimized for mobile, how did it make you feel? I bet there was  some waiting for the page to download; then a lot of pinching and zooming in and out in order to read the text; and lots of scrolling up and down and left and right in order to see areas you couldn’t see initially. Again the experience was likely not a very good one.

That is precisely that type of experience your learners would have if you simply convert your existing Flash-based courses to HTML5 using the latest version of your rapid eLearning tool.

Here’s a traditional Adobe Captivate eLearning course, with lots of text, images, navigation controls and videos:



And here’s what it looks like on my iPhone after I use the new Publish to HTML5 feature in Adobe Captivate 6:

A Flash-based Adobe Captivate 6 course converted to HTML5 and viewed on an Apple iPhone

A Flash-based Adobe Captivate 6 course converted to HTML5 and viewed on an Apple iPhone


Three-ChoiceMobilize Learning by Optimizing it for Touch

So what is our goal as mobile learning designers? First of all, our goal shouldn’t be to simply make our learning ‘touchable‘ that’s too easy, click the Publish to HTML5 button in your favorite eLearning tool and you are done. That’s only half the battle.

Our ultimate goal is to Mobilize Learning by ‘optimizing the learning experience for touch,’ which is very different from simply making our content touchable. When you design touch-optimized experiences, you account for the size of the touch targets; the placement of the navigation controls, so they align with how we hold mobile devices; touch gestures; the simplicity and the amount of content per screen, in order to avoid cognitive overload, and of course the many screens out there that your learners will use to access your learning.


The Mobile Revolution is very real and is moving faster than anyone initially expected, and I strongly recommend that you take action immediately and begin mobilizing your learning using choice number 3.

Like this post? Why Not Share it with your community!


, ,

  • Thank you RJ for showing real examples, this is exactly what we need: continue talking about mobile AND showing what happens in real life … this is the best way to avoid untrue declarations.

    By the way, I love your “you’ve got only one choice” demonstration 🙂

    • rjacquez

      Thanks for your comment, Matthieu! I will keep at it and provide as many examples as I can. Glad you liked my ‘There’s really Only One Choice’ approach 🙂

  • You know… What I really do not like in this article is the fact that I got to know you as Adobe eLearning Evangelist. I respect your opinions, shared articles etc.

    Now you say that Captivate is crap by showing examples and at the same time you promote Articulate Storyline that (the same as Captivate 6) produces shitty output for mobile too.

    What’s the point?

  • While I think a lot of designers are considering these options, I think #3 is even a little narrow — we shouldn’t be designing exclusively for touch (although that is important), we should be designing for mobility. What I mean by that is that people accessing learning on a mobile device are not necessarily just sitting at a desk; they are likely on the move or in a situation where they require specific support or information, and their learning apps should support this need as much as possible. I think we may also see a shift in mentality from “course” to “app” as more learners are using apps and mobile devices in their personal lives. It will be interesting to see if/when that happens!

  • P.Srujan Babu

    Thanks for the info RJ I learned a lot reading your posts.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes