Responsive Design in Mobile Learning – 3 Tips for Better UX

3 Tips for Responsive Design in Mobile Learning

Responsive Design in Mobile Learning – 3 Tips for Better UX

Professional learning is increasingly happening on the mobile. While learning that is happening via devices, be it desktops, tablets, televisions or mobile phones often gets labelled as just “digital” or “eLearning”, we might be better off thinking of the various mediums more granularly. Due to the limitations and restrictions caused by e.g. screen size, we cannot simply expect the same type of design to work for all the devices. Responsive design has emerged as a solution to that problem. However, simply using a responsive and automatically adjusting layout is not enough. Hence, we’ve compiled three tips for using responsive design in mobile learning. Let’s have a look!

1. Don’t overkill with interactivity

Looks like we barely made it to the first item and we are already contradicting conventional wisdom! Shouldn’t all learning contain as much interactivity as possible?

Well, no. Firstly, you should never use interactivity for the sake of being interactive. Rather, you want to make sure that the learning interactions actually contribute to the experience. Secondly, we need to carefully consider the peculiarities of mobile use if we want to deliver successful responsive design in mobile learning.

For instance, whereas on the desktop, having the learners “click” through objects is a widely used mode of interactivity, it doesn’t really work on the mobile. Rather, such interactivity in responsive mobile learning should be based on scrolling and swiping, two “natural” behaviours on mobile. Also, due to the smaller screen real estate, you don’t want your learners to have to jump through hoops and constantly open or launch new pieces of content.

2. Optimise your media and graphics elements

Another important factor to take into account is the use of media, graphics and visual elements. Generally, mobile devices are not great mediums for focused, extensive reading. Hence, we often tend to look at visual ways of conveying the information. However, there are a number of things to consider with visual elements when it comes to responsive mobile learning design. Here are a few you should keep in mind:

  • Optimise your file sizes. Mobile often goes with limited bandwidth, and increased loading times will get your learners dropping out.
  • Use simple graphics. Don’t attempt to include all the information in a single graphical illustration. This will often result in something that the learner has to zoom and manoeuvre about. Also, try to keep text out of graphics that are going to be scaled, as the text becomes illegible very easily.
  • Use icons, breaks and white space. Icons are great in communicating many things, e.g. navigation, context, sections or instructions. Breaks help the learner to pace the content and avoid “scrolling too fast”. White space works equally well in that, and also helps to balance out the design.

3. Design intuitive UIs and navigation

If we want to be successful in responsive mobile learning design, we also need to focus on UIs and navigation. Whenever our learners are spending time navigating complex structures or trying to find the information they are looking for, they are not learning. Thus, we should make finding and retrieving information as fluid and seamless as possible.

What’s fluid and seamless then? Firstly, you might be better off following the prevailing “logic” and “flow” of everyday applications. It gets very irritating when navigation elements like “previous”, “next”, “exit” or “play” are not in their “common” places. And you probably don’t want to make your learners frustrated. Furthermore, when it comes to mobile learning, it’s important to acknowledge the screen size limitations once more. Due to the small field of view, it’s much harder to quickly find new elements, compared to e.g. desktop, where one can see a lot more at once.

Final thoughts

Responsive design in mobile learning definitely proposes an extra hurdle for organisations, as they have a lot more to consider when designing digital learning. However, it’s a hurdle that one really can’t ignore. We haven’t seen any organisations that have ignored the need for responsive design and “mobile optimisation” and succeeded with their mobile learning initiatives. If this sounds entirely foreign to you, we are happy to help you understand the peculiarities of mobile, and to deploy effective learning initiatives utilising mobile devices. Just contact us here.

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Omnichannel Learning – Steps Towards Unified Experiences

Omnichannel learning experiences - unified and seamless

Omnichannel Learning – Steps Towards Unified Experiences

The concept of omnichannel comes from the retail sector, where retailers are striving to provide a seamless, unified and personalised shopping experience across different channels, such as online, mobile and physical stores. Organisations who fail to utilise some of the individual channels or integrate them seamlessly seem to be struggling in business because of low customer engagement. While omnichannel is not much of a buzzword in the learning and development space, we should adopt the same ideology. After all, learning engagement as well as tracking learning across different channels is a challenge for many organisations. Here’s how we could move towards an omnichannel learning approach to tackle these problems.

Omnichannel learning starts with cross-platform functionality

We live in the era of learning apps. For almost every need, there’s an app. On top of that, you have your corporate LXP (or LMS) systems, learning portals, intranets and co-working platforms. The problem is that often these systems are don’t communicate very well with each other. Your learner may complete a learning activity in a dedicated application, but doesn’t in any way reflect in the content that e.g. your LMS might push to him/her. Running multiple platforms easily results in an incredible amount of duplicate work and activities. Furthermore, it tends to hide information in silos and the confines of the platform.

The aim of successful omnichannel learning is to abolish the boundaries of individual platforms. While running a single learning platform for all the learning needs would be ideal from a systems management standpoint, it’s often a non-feasible reality. Hence, when you’re looking at “yet another app” to solve your learning challenges, you should pay attention to the interoperability possibilities with your existing infrastructure. An important aspect of that is the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) the systems can use to fetch and receive information from each other.

Omnichannel learning should aim for a unified user experience

Another omnichannel feature that may be equally challenging to create is a unified user experience across platforms. If we use a retail analogy, the aim is not only for the mobile app to match the design of the responsive website/web application, but the physical environment (the retail stores) to match it as well. A seamless transition between online and offline will be key to deliver a great user experience and sustain engagement. Interestingly, the online to offline is a particular challenge in learning as well (more on that later).

This area of omnichannel learning is the one where running multiple platforms usually kills the game. However, with a bit of effort on visual- and functional design, we can do quite a lot. Naturally, visual design, colour schemes etc. should match across platforms, as it is a low effort – high return type of situation. In terms of functionality, you’re better off if your applications follow similar logic in terms of accessing and consuming learning. Furthermore, you shouldn’t unreasonably restrict functionalities on mobile platforms, otherwise you may lose a lot of engagement.

How do we collect uniform learning data from all the different channels – even offline?

To, first of all, understand and further develop omnichannel learning experiences, we need comprehensive learning data. As we want to eliminate unnecessary overlaps in delivery, we need to grasp how the different channels work together. While each app or learning tool may very well have its own analytics, they don’t necessarily help the bigger picture. Furthermore, a major challenge is bringing offline (face-to-face) into the mix and collecting data from them. Thus, we need a unified framework of recording all different learning activities, whether mobile, online or classroom-based.

Luckily, we already have the technological answer for the problem – The Experience API (xAPI). The xAPI specification enables us to track and collect uniform data from all learning activities, even offline and pass them onto a single locker of data for analysis. It helps not only in learning analytics, but also enables better understanding of content engagement and learner-centric design.

What about content development for omnichannel?

Finally, content development is an important topic in an omnichannel approach to learning. Naturally, all digital content should be fully responsive, so it can be accessed via a browser on all devices and wrapped into mobile applications for native use. Interoperability and accessibility is imperative, as the concept of omnichannel expands the “mobile learning paradigm” of “anytime, anywhere” to “any content, anytime, anywhere”.

Integrating this mode of operation to offline activities is again the biggest challenge. The approach requires a degree of flexibility from the trainers, coaches and mentors. They need to adapt their classroom content to form a natural continuum to the prior (digital) learning experiences. But thanks to xAPI and learning analytics, they nowadays have the power to understand each learner on a very individual level.

Are you delivering seamless and unified learning experiences across different channels? If you want to move away from siloed learning approaches, we can help. Our advisory services cover both technology implementations and strategic learning consulting. Just contact us.

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How to Get Started with Just-In-Time Learning?

just-in-time learning

Implementing Just-in-time Learning – Here’s How to Get Started

Learning in the corporate context has become very time-agnostic in recent years. Due to the drastic speed of change in the technological and business environments, knowledge and skill sets are evolving faster than ever. This requires employees to constantly update their knowledge just to stay on top of the tasks at hand. With the amount of knowledge and the complexity of tasks people undertake each day, we can no longer expect to be able train them everything prior to the work. On one hand, the amount of knowledge required is cumbersome for any L&D department to administer. On the other hand, getting employees to digest it all is impossible due to the problem of cognitive overload. However, a just-in-time learning strategy provides a good alternative to support the employees. Here are some tips on putting it to practice and starting to learn on demand.

Just-in-time learning combines well with mobile

If you had to choose one medium for accessing training content to rely on continuously, that would most likely be mobile. Our mobile (smart) phones are always with us, regardless of where we are. Therefore, mobile learning provides a great medium for just-in-time learning. In fact, a lot of the behaviour has been baked into our routines already. When we need to solve problems, we turn to our mobile search engines. If that doesn’t help, we might instant message our network for help. All this is essentially learning on demand, we just don’t recognise it as such. Hence, mobile is the best platform to power us up to learn just-in-time.

Here are a few things to remember about mobile learning design.

Learning content should be quick-to-consume – insert microlearning

When delivering just-in-time learning, two factors are of great importance: the speed of accessing content and the speed of consuming it. Mobile learning helps a lot with the ease of access. But to add to that, you should make your content easily searchable as well. Providing a mobile gateway to the content is not enough if the learner cannot find the information they need quickly.

Microlearning, on the other hand, can help a lot in the speed of consuming the content. When learning at the point of need, your employees don’t have time to go through traditional long-format courses. But they do have a few minutes to watch e.g. a microlearning video on the topic. There, you should chunk your content into easily digestible, concise pieces with a single learning objective.

Here are a few tips on building effective microlearning content. 

Using social learning to address the needs the L&D department cannot

As mentioned, the amount of knowledge needed for the purposes of just-in-time learning is potentially enormous. And let’s face it, it’s highly likely that your L&D department doesn’t have the resources to respond to every need. However, embracing the natural behaviour of “phone a friend”, you could leverage social learning tools. Whenever an employee encounters a problem that there’s no documented answer to, they could ask the experts in the organisation. In an internal, public forum-like setting, all these problems and answers could be recorded. Therefore, employees facing similar problems in the future would already be able to find solutions and best practices.

Overall, just-in-time learning is a very natural way of learning things. In the VUCA world of today, it’s also required to keep in pace with the change. If there’s no structured approach in place for it, it will happen on employees’ own terms. That effectively gives away the organisation’s control and understanding of what kind of learning is happening and further needed in the workplace. Therefore, organisations should consider formulating a strategy for learning on demand. These tips  provide a good baseline for starting the process.

Are you looking to implement just-in-time learning in your organisation? We can help you formulate a structured approach and strategy for it, as well as provide tools and methods for the implementation and execution. Just drop us a note and we’ll get back to you. 

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Experiential Learning 2.0 – Incorporating L&D into the Modern Workflow

experiential learning

Experiential Learning 2.0 – Incorporating L&D into the Modern Workflow

Experiential learning, or learning on-the-job is arguably the most effective way of learning in organisations. Whereas research supports that observation, experts have also developed many frameworks further capturing the importance of learning on the job. The 70:20:10 theory is a good example, and sets the stage by implying that 70% of learning happens on the job. While we agree that on-the-job learning might be the most important medium, we also recognise a challenge. As further research points out, experience doesn’t necessarily equal learning. Consequently, you can have a lot of experience with very little learning. Hence, it is more important than ever to ensure that we facilitate the experiential learning process in our organisations. Thus, we’ve compiled a few key tips on taking on-the-job learning to the 2.0.

On-demand and just-in-time learning work great on the job

Thanks to the adoption of mobile and other technologies, we have got access to more on-demand content than ever. Also, due to the modern nature of business and the constant change, upskilling people beforehand is becoming a mission impossible. Skills that are relevant today might not be relevant tomorrow. We are facing so many new problems and challenges in the day-to-day, that often we just have to make it up as we go along. This is where just-in time learning can help organisations thrive.

With on-demand and just-in-time done properly, people can access information and knowledge with only minor interruptions to their workflow. They are able to consume bite-sized knowledge, which reinforces their existing capabilities. Furthermore, they are able to apply the learning immediately. The application is the key part to all experiential learning. By enabling your people to learn and apply on the spot, instead of sitting them in a classroom, you can see them upskill faster than ever. Consequently, you are also ensuring that they are getting and applying the desired knowledge and not deviating too much from the SOPs or company guidelines.

You can use social learning and sharing to support the experiential learning

Naturally, amassing the library of on-demand content in the traditional way is potentially too time-consuming. Whereas learning and development professionals have traditionally curated all the learning content, that is not necessary anymore. In fact, by enabling your employees to create and share content you are able to achieve unprecedented scale. Furthermore, you ensure that the subject matter is of high quality and constantly updated. Whenever there’s a change in a particular workflow, one of the employees, a subject-matter expert, can update the key content to reflect that. Over time, the group can share best practices on any given topic as they accumulate experience.

This type of tacit knowledge gained through experience is highly valuable. It is not often that learners can get access to such a wealth of subject-matter expertise. But nowadays it is possible – thanks to technology. By giving your employees access to such knowledge base and enabling them to apply it on their jobs first hand, you are helping them to get from 0 to 100 faster than ever. That early acceleration in learning and becoming a productive individual is what helps businesses succeed in the current environment of constant change. Hence, it is important that we facilitate the experiential learning experience to reduce the time to proficiency.

All in all, experiential learning is still the most powerful way of learning. However, as everything moves so fast nowadays, we are not able to give our employees a long time to master their trade. Thus, it’s important that we take advantage of the opportunities and technologies available to transfer knowledge and develop competencies faster.

Are you facilitating on-the-job learning with the aid of technology? We happily share best practices and case studies in how to take experiential learning to the next generation. Just contact us here

 

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Mobile Learning Design – 3 Things to Keep in Mind

Mobile learning design

Mobile Learning Design – 3 Things to Keep in Mind

Organisations all around are taking on or planning to implement mobile learning to cater for the requirements of the modern learners. As the online media consumption shifts from desktop to mobile, learning has to follow to stay relevant. However, for this paradigm shift of learning a simple swap of devices is not enough. We consume content differently on the desktop versus the mobile, and that is something we need to take into account. Hence, here are three things to keep in mind to ensure appropriate mobile learning design.

1. Avoid text in your mobile learning design

Naturally, learning materials require some texts. But extensive text based content will unfortunately go to waste on the mobile. As research shows, deep reading or “slow reading” does not really happen on the mobile. Rather, we skim the text or read “superficially”. Hence, if you’re relying on delivering your key messages in text format, you might be in trouble. The learners are likely to just glance through it, without paying it the attention it warrants. Naturally, this kills learning retention rates. Over long term, the learners are able to retain very little of the skimmed text based materials.

Furthermore, text based elements are also a researched matter of preference. Behavioural studies show that most people do not prefer to read lengthy texts on the mobile. A lot of scrolling is required, you’re constantly interrupted by other apps and it might even be physically difficult due to e.g. eyesight. Hence, when using text based elements, keep it short! We like to use text to guide the learners, and deliver the key messages in different multimedia formats. A few paragraphs for every learning nugget should be all it takes, thanks to the plethora of content options available which are better suited for mobile learning.

2. Deliver key learning nuggets in rich multimedia formats

The mobile world has brought us a realm of possibilities when it comes to learning design. Different multimedia formats can foster better engagement and deliver the message effectively. Here are some types of content that you should consider for mobile learning.

Ultimately, no matter what content formats you use, you should make the learning interactive. Facilitating two-way interactions between the content and the learner improves engagement and retention by miles. Here’s a simple example of what two-way interactivity means for videos. 

3. Deliver learning content in bite-sized nuggets

Mobile learning is a powerful tool because it allows us to utilise the short moments scattered through the workday for learning. So make the minutes matter! Your learners do have the time for learning, the problem is that it is divided into very small pieces. To take advantage of these micro moments, we can use microlearning. Microlearning means structuring and delivering learning content in very short, generally 3-5 minute pieces. A few minutes may not sound like much, but it is more than enough for a short text introduction, followed by a video delivering the key message, after which the learner can even complete a micro quiz to check their learning.

This way, your learners are able to to engage in learning while waiting for the elevator, queuing up at the water fountain or while sipping their morning coffee. It works great, as long as you stick to keeping it concise. Here are some additional tips on building effective microlearning.

Hope these tips help you forward in taking the leap to the era of mobile learning. If you have any problems or queries related to mobile learning design or implementation, don’t hesitate to contact us. Lets work out your problems together. 

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3 Essentials Your Learning Systems Should Have

Learning Systems

3 Essentials Your Learning Systems Should Have

When it comes to digital learning effectiveness, our learning systems and their capabilities play an equally important role to interactive and engaging learning content. Many organisations have already adopted some modern learning content formats, like storyboards and videos. However, running even these types of modern engaging content on archaic systems is just ineffective and a waste of resources. To ensure you’re delivering eLearning at its full potential, here are today’s 3 essentials for learning systems.

Mobile Learning Interfaces are a must-have

Majority of content consumption nowadays happens on the mobile. Mobile learning provides the greatest flexibility and is also the preference of today’s learners. Therefore, a mobile interface on the learning system is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. And the mobile experience is not limited to accessibility only. The mobile learning interface should have all the same functionalities than the desktop version. This can be achieved through apps or responsive web services, of which the latter are generally a better option. Mobile responsive web services enable better integration and more seamless multi-platform learning experiences.

You can read more about mobile learning here.

Learning systems need xAPI compatibility for proper analytics

The technological capabilities of capturing learning data have moved forward significantly with the rise of the Experience API (xAPI). This new standard of digital learning (replacing SCORM) enables us to capture and record learning activities both online and offline. Furthermore, it enables us to track the whole spectrum of learning – from formal to experimental. In fact, we should see the xAPI as the Google Analytics for learning systems. Instead of tracking pass/fail, test scores and completion, this interface enables us to track interactions. Essentially, we can track every single interaction the users make with learning materials, other learners and trainers. This provides a realm of possibilities for more data driven people strategies, content curation and assessment. Hence, we have the capabilities to abolish some of the dreaded formal testing. Also, we get access to real-time analytics for both the skills development and learning material effectiveness.

Digital Learning User Experience (UX) must be at the core

With today’s adept mobile users, a dated user experience is the fastest way to kill adoption of any learning systems. With all the change management and new learning we are going through, the last thing the end user wants to do is to go through training on how to use a system. Hence, systems need to be intuitive. Naturally, this requires a visually pleasing, but most importantly clean user interface (UI). We should guide users with visual queues instead of extensive text. Furthermore, everything should be accessible from any page with 1-2 clicks.

However, a nice UI is not enough. We need to ensure the UX and the user journey’s work on all levels. In practice, this means that learning content needs to be natively hosted in the system. Links to other platforms often kill engagement, and may also disable proper data flows. The need to download learning content to learners’ own devices is another buzz-kill. Firstly, we cannot track learning activities for downloaded files. Secondly, downloads mean that we need to use documents, files or PDFs – something you should never do with digital learning in 2018. Ideally, we could do everything in a single system without the need to switch around.

Are your learning systems up to date? We can help you to upgrade to the next generation of digital learning. Just contact us here

 

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Mobile Learning – Rethinking Your Strategy

Rethink your mobile learning strategy

Mobile Learning – Rethinking Your Strategy

Mobile learning is something that many organisations would like to implement, but very few have got their fingers around. Fundamentally speaking, it means having the ability to learn regardless of location or time. Nowadays, smart phones are increasingly the learning device of choice and learning needs to adapt accordingly. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, many organisations really struggle in understanding where mobile should be placed in their learning strategy.

For instance, many companies seem to look at mobile learning as just an extension of the already existing e-learning. On the other hand, many organisations see it to be totally separate from e-learning. But in fact, you should think of mobile learning as the next generation of e-learning.

In 2018: e-learning = mobile learning.

With the rapid adoption of mobile devices in our personal and professional lives, our habits have changed accordingly. Whereas we would require computers to do certain tasks in the past, that is decreasingly the case nowadays. Mobile devices have become so powerful that we can use them for almost anything – including learning.

Furthermore, these mobile devices seem to have become the go-to medium for consuming content. If you find that hard to believe, observe people in public transport, for instance. Since our learners’ preference is clearly changing, we must adopt our learning strategies accordingly. We need to start building learning for the mobile. And the most wonderful thing is that building mobile learning doesn’t mean neglecting the traditional e-learning, thanks to technology.

How should we use technology to cater for mobile?

As mentioned, thanks to technological developments, mobile learning and e-learning shouldn’t be separate things. With e.g. HTML5, we can use our learning content equally well on mobile and computers. No mobile native apps are needed and all platforms can be managed through a single web interface. This ensures that learning becomes truly mobile, as the learners will have the same content, same progress and same results regardless of the device they choose to learn with at any given time.

Of course, you have likely built a library of e-learning content before the mobile era. Luckily, there are some great tools out there for streamlined conversion of old learning materials into mobile (here’s a few good ones). Going forward, on the other hand, there’s really no excuse to revert back to differentiating mobile learning and e-learning. You are likely to do twice the work maintaining two different streams of content, and the results are likely worse. On the other hand, neglecting learners with different device preferences is only going to result in loss of engagement.

How could my old e-learning benefit from lessons learnt with mobile?

The use of mobile devices has uplifted the requirements for digital learning. An alarming research finding is that when we use our mobiles, we don’t actually read. We rather skim and glance the text. This naturally means that we should not use excessive text based content. As it is, we have had to start using more interactive content formats, such as video, animations and gamified experiences. These interactive content types help to lift the engagement levels of the learners, enabling also better retention. So, instead of forcibly pushing our mobile learners with documents, we should generate content that fits mobile consumption preferences. After all, no one is going to enjoy reading 50-slide presentations or 10-page manuals on a 6-inch screen.

As it is, text based content is easier to consume on the computer than mobile – that’s a given. However, even our computer based learning could greatly benefit from content interactivity. The different multimedia experiences help to cater to different learning styles. They also enable better tracking, as well as engagement. With that, the computer based learning can evolve from a tick-box exercise to measurable and motivating experiences. In hindsight, the mobile era has required us to provide the type of learning content that we should have for a long time.

Do you have questions on how to implement mobile learning in your organisation? Drop us a note, and we’ll help you get started with a free consultation.  

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