Category Archives: Instructional Design

Mobile Learning Design

Mobile Learning Design

By Mark Sivy

The use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets has greatly increased the past few years. More people are now accessing learning content via their favored piece of portable tech…assuming that the content is mobile ready. Preparing content and resources to include mobile learning requires specialized responsive design practices such as:

  • Should be specifically designed to be visible and interactive on a variety of devices.
  • Addresses immediate personal learning needs – concise and on-demand.
  • Allows for content retrieval that is self-directed and self-paced.
  • Empowers the learner to take more responsibility for their learning.
  • Facilitates immediate learner collaboration and communication.

smartphone

Development

The development of mobile learning requires the consideration of multiple points. So for starters, a general recommendation that can be applied at all levels is to Keep It Simple. Overall, the design should be clean, easy to navigate, and ubiquitously functional. Remember mobile learning is NOT about adapting or squeezing entire e-learning courses for delivery to a mobile device, but is more about just-in-time or chunked information. The design and development needs to be originally created for mobile learning, and every learning situation is unique.

ADDIE

Considerations

Before getting into specifics, here are some overarching considerations to get you thinking:

  • Know the digital devices the learners will be using. What operating systems will be used? Will the content stream through wireless or mobile services? What size screens do the devices have?
  • Know the recipients of the content. Will they be teenagers, young adults, or adults? What languages do they speak? Are they full-time learners or employees? Are there any accessibility considerations?
  • Know your development tools and formats. Will the content be text, audio, or video? What screen orientation will be used? Will Flash or HTML5 be used and how? Are your development technologies supportive of mobile device content?
  • Know the subject matter and how it is best presented. How interactive should it be? What learning theories will be applied? How can it be chunked for mobile learning? What strategies will be used to present and connect the chunks into a course learning sequence?

Now getting down to the nitty gritty, there are several developmental elements that need to be considered. Next you will find these elements and some associated points for each.

The Learner

  • Hold each learning segment to a maximum of 10 minutes.
  • Keep scrolling to a minimum.
  • Try to avoid external links, but notify the learners if you use them.
  • If you quiz, keep questions and responses short.
  • Consider how the learner will input or interact with the device.
  • Involve learners in development and usability testing.

The Technology

  • The interface should be simple and intuitive.
  • Try to use formats that are cross-compatible with multiple devices.
  • If a specific device will be used (i.e., iPad or Chromebook), then research and design accordingly.
  • Be considerate of bandwidth limitations.
  • Optimize audio and video files or files that will be downloaded.

Reader

The Visual Design

  • Use a white background
  • Keep the visuals and font clean and simple
  • Use images instead of descriptive text when possible
  • Don’t use text in images
  • Apply bold and strong visuals
  • Keep font no less than 12pt
  • Use large, well-place buttons

The Content Design

  • Keep text focused, relevant, and minimalistic.
  • Be creative.
  • Apply appropriate learning theories and guidelines.
  • Use an agile learning development process combined with an instructional systems design approach such as ADDIE.
  • Have developers and learners preview the design.

Reflection Point – “One training event is not sufficient for people to transfer learning to new situations. If you are seeking strong retention and learning transfer, people need distributed learning and performance support.” ~ Connie Malamed

Know Your Adult Learners

Know Your Adult Learners

by Mark Sivy

The writing of this post was prompted by the all too common contrary treatment of adult learners in academic and corporate settings. Learning for adults is often treated as an extension of traditional public education, which itself is in desperate need of updating. As an adult, the motivations, challenges, psychology, and mechanics of learning are significantly different from those that exist for K-12 and undergraduate programs. These differences need to be recognized, acknowledged, and integrated into instructional practice.

Adult LearnersBackground

Even though no single theorist’s approach comprehensively applies to all adults, one of the most well-known of contemporary adult learning theorists is Malcolm Knowles. His assumptions align with previous work of noted individuals such as Jean Piaget and Dusan Savicevic and concurrent work by experts such as Kathryn Cross and Jack Mezirow.

Adult Learner Characteristics

So for a start, the first six items that I present are based upon Malcolm Knowles’ (1984) assumptions of adult learning characteristics. I then follow up with some of my own, which I highly doubt are original, yet they are important to consider.

  1. Adults have transitioned from being dependent learners to being self-directed. This translates into the abilities to: a) have control over their learning process, b) develop peer-level rapport with instructors and trainers, c) learn in a manner that is conducive to their individual style, d) to select projects or tasks that reflect their desires, and e) avoid highly structured learning.
  2. Closely related to the previous assumption is that adults motivated to learn voluntarily, or at least learning material in a manner that generates a sense of intrinsic benefit such as to boost self-esteem or address a curiosity.
  3. Adults want to draw on or connect to their past experiences to help them in learning new content or skills. This stresses the importance of hosting learner groups that are comprised of individuals with similar experiences or interests.
  4. Adults are pragmatic and goal-oriented, wanting learning outcomes that are immediately applicable.
  5. Adults need to see the relevance and benefit of current learning to their life and future, work or personal.
  6. Learning needs to be problem-based and task-oriented instead of focused on the memorization of facts or processes.
  7. Adult’s lives are complex with multiple roles and busy schedules, thus learning needs to be more flexible in terms of time, place, and pacing.
  8. The ability to learn slows with age, yet learning becomes deeper and more meaningful due to its integration with a learner’s pre-existing knowledge and experience.
  9. Many adult learners who approach a new learning experience have anxieties, either due to negative learning experiences at earlier ages or because they sense they may not be equipped to learn as an adult.
  10. As a whole, adult learners are much more diverse, consequently requiring a greater personalization of the learning experience.
  11. Learning through the use of technology and at-a-distance communication can be new for many adults, thus causing a sense of disconnection with the learning process and a perceived inability to address previously mentioned adult learner needs.
  12. After a learning event, adults benefit from coaching, follow-up discussions, on-demand support, and informal communities of practice.

Adult TechImplementation

The topic of integrating these characteristics of adult learners into instructional design will be the topic of a follow-up blog post….

Reflection Point – “Learning isn’t an assembly line process like that implemented by Henry Ford”     ~Mark Sivy

References

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.