Our 2013 Mantra for #mLearning: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify [Lessons from LinkedIn]

2013 happy new year

First, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. May 2013 be the year each one of us creates a dent in our own Universe!

Don’t look now, but there’s a revolution happening everywhere driven primarily by the rise of mobile.

Virtually every process and every product is being “reimagined” because of mobile.

Companies in every industry are embracing the mobile revolution, and are putting forth strategies to make sure they offer great experiences for their users on mobile devices.

There’s one common denominator among these companies, namely their mantra is to simplify everything, from their websites for their mobile users, to the mobile apps they design for their customers.

I think there’s an important lesson here for all us in eLearning transitioning to mLearning. I believe the most important first step in this transition is to simplify what we have today on the desktop, as we embrace mobile as a new delivery medium, and as we design for this new frontier.

Only by simplifying our existing learning design, will we be able to reimagine these learning experience on mobile devices and delight our learners who are increasingly mobile.

Here’s what I wrote in a previous post about embracing simplicity:

As an industry, we have been conditioned to think that the more animations we have in our courses, the more engaging they are for the learner. Tools vendors focus their entire marketing strategies (I know I was one of them) on selling “more interactive” features. Every new version comes with more interactions, more widgets, more timelines, more triggers, more ways of animating text, and more support for all those animations in PowerPoint. As users of these tools, we feel that unless we use all of these cool features in a Project (or on a single slide), we are likely behind the trend, and so we end up burying the real course objectives in a sea of animations.

However the mobile experience is about simplicity, it’s about sharing one big idea per screen and nothing more, it’s about looking at what’s really important and then getting rid of everything else, the fluff.

via 8 Things we MUST do in 2013 to seize the potential of mLearning | The mLearning Revolution Blog.

A company I want to highlight today, which is doing exactly this, is LinkedIn. The company’s mission statement is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. One of the ways in which LinkedIn is accomplishing this is by simplifying everything they do, from the friction-less interactions they are implementing on their site (e.g. endorsements), to the new versions of their iPad and iPhone apps, which are simple and enjoyable to use.


Another way in which LinkedIn is simplifying things for their customers is by embracing ‘mobile-first‘ thinking and desktop second.

There’s a great video below from Joff Redfern, head of mobile products at LinkedIn, talking about LinkedIn’s approach to designing for mobile and there’s one thing in particular that I recommend we all embrace as we design learning for multiple screens, namely:

Mobile first is not necessarily about trying to do something first on the mobile and then on the desktop. It’s a way of life

Redfern was speaking at the Guardian Mobile Business Summit 2012 conference in London, where he outlined LinkedIn’s evolving design approach to mobile devices, and said that all the company’s product teams now share a mantra: “Simplify.”

via LinkedIn explains why ‘simple is beautiful’ on mobile devices | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

Here’s the Video:

Over to You:

If you have practical ways in which you are embracing this mantra of simplify, simplify, simply in learning design, please share below. Here’s to a great year of mLearning design!



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  • Divya

    We make some mLearning products which are entirely IVRS based. The two paradigms we have embraced at the time of design are ‘simplicity’ and ‘personalization’. For a novice user, they can get to where they were in the content by simply a single click after dialing. No complicated menus, no complicated navigation. There are a host of features in the product but those are activated only on request. The product has high levels of user engagement, such as multiple choice questions, speaking practice through automatic speech recognition, etc, but every interaction is simple with clear instructions. Any time a button press is introduced it is debated and allowed only when necessary for the most common usage.

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