General Best Practices for Designing #mLearning Courses and Pages
(This is the 17th article of the series on learning design tips from dominKnow KnowledgeBase)
mLearning is different from learning through reading manuals, watching videos, researching on the web, or participating in instructor-led training. That means it should be designed differently to help ensure it is a successful part of your training program.
General tips for designing your mLearning courses
- Many eLearning developers follow the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) or a modified rapid process that moves through similar stages. Time spent at the analysis and planning stage is very important to the success of your project. It is crucial to determine your audience and their learning needs prior to beginning.
- Once the analysis and planning is completed, write clear learning objectives to structure your course content. See What is a learning objective? for more information about objectives and how to write them.
- Align your learning objectives with your knowledge content and media into planned Learning Objects. These break the content into discrete learning topics. See What are Learning Objects? for more information.
- For more information about the design and development phases, see A Sample course development process.
- Include a course introduction with a high-level overview of the course objective, any directions required for navigation and supplemental information, and the final assessment passing score.
- A clear module introduction including what your audience is expected to learn is important to set the groundwork for achieving that goal. This does not have to be a bullet list of objectives. In many cases, a scenario or situation that describes the value of the topic to the learner is more effective.
- Review exercises strategically placed in the course help reinforce learning. A general guideline is to add a review every three or four Learning Objects (or about 20-40% of the total Learning Objects). Your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and your analysis help you decide which topics require more attention and review.
- Write one or more test questions for each Learning Object. Make sure each question addresses the learning objective. Questions can be set for each Learning Object in All Questions mode or Random Questions from a bank of questions. All questions will be “rolled up” into an assessment for the end of the module or course, depending on selected settings. See Writing effective test questions for more information.
- Module and course conclusions help summarize the learning objectives and give the learner a chance to reflect on what they’re learned. The learner may also be prompted to review any material required prior to moving ahead to take the assessment. A reminder of the passing test score is helpful.
General Best Practices for designing mLearning pages
- Structure your page content clearly (people often scan quickly through a page, reading headers and the first few words of a paragraph or list).
- Put the important information up top and explanatory information, as needed, below.
- Include a header and a topic sentence at the beginning (what is this content about?).
- Keep content text to the minimum required (the more words on a page, the less likely people will read it all).
- Leave white space on the page to aid readability.
- Use bold and italics consistently for specific reasons in order to make text stand out (e.g., for directions to the learner and for the names of buttons; do not use all capitals or underlining as these are harder to read).
- Make sure lists use parallel construction (the lead-in sentence and each bullet item must make a complete sentence).
- Left-aligned text is easier to read than fully justified text.
- Add graphics or illustrations that clarify or aid understanding (purely decorative images can detract from learning).
- Make link text meaningful and ensure it matches the document or page name.
- Size any graphics for the image area on your page. You can do this before you upload to Claro or use the Image Editor. See Optimal image file size for more information.
- Use multimedia (such as animation and video) and interactivity (Actions, Image Maps, Hotspots) to increase understanding and learning, not simply for “eye candy”.
- Let the learner be in control of playing multimedia and audio using the Player Controls instead of auto-playing (narration audio is typically set to auto-play, but the learner can use the mute button if required).
10 Bullets for mLearning Content Design
From ADL Mobile Learning Handbook, special attention should be paid to:
- Create content that is short and to the point
- Create smaller chunks of context-independent content
- Design non-linear content
- Guide the learner to external content where they can catch up or explore further
- Use Post-It notes, index cards or stencils for storyboarding
- Use bullets to make contextual information more concise
- Develop the appropriate learning content or experiences for mobile
- Realize that interactivity may not be nearly as relevant for performance support
- A good checklist could be worth much more than an interactive game
- Develop for users (user experience) instead of for devices
And, some more advises on planning your mobile learning :
- Confirm that mobile delivery makes sense
- Understand the targeted end-users and their contexts
- Meet the specific goals and requirements for the project
- Make a clear distinction between “learning” and “performance support”
- Determine tracking requirements
- Plan for the disconnected mobile user
- Think about the limitations of user’s data plans and leverage wifi when possible
- Know the limitations and capabilities of the technologies involved
- Prototype, prototype, prototype (start small, think big)