by Gary Whitfield - Instructional Systems Designer.

Mobile learning

It took me a long time to join the revolution and get a smartphone. Maybe I am not big on making calls, but once I recognised what smartphones could do, it got me considering the possibility of Mobile Learning. The first app I created was a simple cat. It displayed a picture of a random cat which I stroked lovingly and heard purr. Concept done, I then pushed my app to allow learners to log on and validate who they are against our LMS record of learners, pull through a list of courses they have finished and then download PDF versions of any modules they have completed onto their mobile device.


From my experience, there were a number of questions that I found helpful in considering mobile learning (m-learning):

A reasonable sanity check question to ensure I was not trying to be mobile for the sake of looking cutting edge or doing something different.

Does mobile learning suit my client’s needs?

There is little point investing time in a mobile learning delivery if the client sits in front of a computer all day.


Approaches to mobile learning

Three approaches to mobility exist to choose from:

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD); Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) or Choose Your Own Device (CYOD). According to ITProPortal, this decision should be based upon secure mobility, device choice, data consistency and agile management (just read the article to learn what it all means). I originally did not read anything, jumped straight into building something for my device and took no thought to the strategy. Totally the wrong approach as I did not have in mind how the end user will access the learning and on which platforms I would need to develop for.


Mobile learning apps

Mobile learning can be so many different things. It can mean accessing webinars via your device, you may want learners to access material before going into the classroom, you might even want them to complete mobile courseware (but do be considerate of how the page looks and interacts. I would hate to keep zooming in to click on fiddly text fields or to try drag and dropping when my phone thinks I am swiping – both inconvenient and frustrating!). Linking this to your mobility strategy makes great sense. You should use a framework to help you decide what your app will do. Park Yeonjeong offers a fairly academic approach to considering your mobile learning, how you would pedagogically approach your content for your app and what style of app you require.



E-learning authoring tools


OK. Now I will get my geek on because what is under the hood affects the user experience of learning content and the update of that content. Once again, there are three choices:

  1. HTML5 - Efficient, easy to maintain, easy to produce and update
  2. Native - Built especially for the mobile operating system (IOS for Apple, Android or Blackberry).  More aesthetically pleasing, interacts with other apps seamlessly, more intuitive, more costly
  3. Hybrid - Full native app performance combined with the faster and flexible development of HTML5

According to Gartner, more than 50% of apps will be hybrid by 2016.

There are many eLearning authoring tools which will allow you to create a mobile output in either flash or HTML 5 formats. Lectora, Captivate and Articulate Storyline are familiar with most e-learning developers. Adobe now own “PhoneGap” which will allow you to take HTML5 content and convert it into a native app for Apple, Android, Windows or Blackberry mobile platforms.

I am sure that if you can answer all these questions before you even begin to build anything, then you will be on a good footing to deliver mobile learning which works best for your client.

About the author

Gary is an Instructional Designer with an e-learning background. His knowledge of learning design has helped to design and produce award winning, quality e-learning content.

Gary’s love of learning technology has helped him develop the technical skills to scope, prototype, build and support bespoke learning technologies to support the client's needs.

Love to write?