Mobile learning isn’t just a way to make courses more accessible—it’s a way to deliver better learning content.

The first priority of many online educators is to create the best desktop experience possible—and who can blame them? After all, most of them are also creating content on their desktop, and it’s a space learners traditionally turn to when they search for new learning content.

However, these assumptions could be hurting online educators in that desktop first design is based on presuppositions that may not be borne out by actual user data. In fact, many users—especially younger users—are more comfortable with mobile content. They not only expect access to their online courses via their smartphones, they plan to use their smartphones as their primary learning platform.

Educators have traditionally worked around this by choosing mobile friendly themes and optimizing content so that it looks good on mobile. However, by treating mobile learning as an afterthought, many are overlooking the distinct advantages mobile learning has to offer. Here are just a few.

1. Swipes and gestures.

Remember when the iPhone got rid of the physical keypad? Replacing buttons with digital swipes and gestures was one of the most ambitious design choices in recent technological history, but the result changed the course of mobile development by giving users and developers alike an entire screen to work with.

It’s a shame, therefore, that so many still fail to use the full screen when creating course content. Most developers, in choosing a mobile-friendly theme, are only thinking about content arrangement. But what about how users engage with design elements on screen? Can they swipe and tap and drag and drop with ease? Do those movements have any special significance within your course?

Swipes and gestures are simple functions, but their simplicity can also be powerful. Using these features to help learners move through your content can create a more satisfying mobile experience.

2. Augmented reality.

Given the computing power of today’s smartphones, there’s very little left to separate them from their desktop counterparts save their mobility. And that mobility comes with a real advantage. When a learner carries their learning platform with them, it’s not just the learner who has universal access to the learning platform—it’s also the learning platform that has universal access to the learner’s environment. Are you making the most of it?

Mobile learning means learners can engage with their environment as they learn. They can take pictures, select points on a map, and use their phones as a viewing screen for a virtual environment overlaying whatever is in front of them. What better way to make learning real than to insert learning into their daily lives?

3. Microlearning.

Learning that is delivered in small chucks of only a few minutes at a time is considered “microlearning.” Micro content can be part of any learning experience, but it fits most naturally in the realm of mobile learning, where users frequently turn to their smartphones in order to access content on the go. After all, Few learners want to start a twenty-minute video while waiting in line at the grocery store, but would happily complete a two-minute quiz.

4. Gamification.

While desktop courses can also use gamification to improve the learner experience, mobile courses are where gamification thrives. Gamification, which uses components such as leaderboards, badges, and point systems to motivate learners to remain engaged with course content, is particularly well suited for microlearning scenarios where learners want to be able to check in and compete during their down time. After all, if one of the goals of gamification is to make mobile learning hard to put down, it’s even better if learners can take that experience with them wherever they go.

5. Distraction-free design.

Finally, mobile designs can improve learner experiences by removing distractions. This is a basic necessity of good design on mobile, as the smaller screen sizes simply can’t fit as much as their desktop counterparts. The positive unintended consequence of this is that educators can clean up their designs and only deliver the most essential visual information on their mobile courses. In return, the lack of distractions can help learners focus more on important material. It’s a win-win.

Taking the time to harness the full advantages of mobile learning can improve outcomes for your learners.

Making the most of mobile requires an investment. At the very least, educators are committing to spend more time checking their content for quality and accessibility. In some cases, achieving the most advanced functions may require custom coding, which can run into tens of thousands of dollars in development costs.

The benefits are real, however. Learners who are given mobile learning as an option are more likely to complete their courses, and report higher satisfaction. Mobile learning, especially when delivered through an app, also has higher prestige than options that are optimized solely for desktop, allowing course creators to charge more for their courses. And, of course, may users are so comfortable on mobile that they don’t use desktop at all. Mobile advertising can draw their attention and generate an entirely new audience.

The conclusion is clear. If you haven’t yet taken a mobile-first approach to developing content for your learners, now is the time. You’ve very little to lose, and a whole lot of business to gain.

Interested in turning your course into an app? Stay tuned for our upcoming article in which we discuss possible ways of achieving this with LearnDash and share interview questions with AppPresser’s Scott Bolinger.

Laura Lynch photo

About Laura Lynch

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

Comments

5 responses

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Hi Laura,
I have a small question for you.
How can a company incorporate AR into its mobile learning app, without actually disturbing its existing UX flow?

Anyways it was an interesting read, cheers.

Hi Raul,

That seems like something that would be very specific to an application. I would assume that if a company were going through the effort of using AR as part of their educational program, they would want to restructure their UX flow to take better advantage of that functionality.

Laura LynchReply

Great content, Your information is very inspiring. Keep it going. Thanks

Laura LynchReply

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