When designing for mobile, what should be considered beforehand? There are many motivations to create mobile learning. The sheer number of smart phones in use presents an unprecedented opportunity to reach many learners. So, it makes sense so many of us feel pressured to implement learning via mobile.

Taking advantage of the opportunities mobile presents can lead to great success in learning, but I’m here today to remind us all that no matter what the format, we should first think about designing effective learning. If we’re thinking about mobile first and then about learning, we could create mobile training that doesn’t meet learning goals. Here are some key considerations to remember when you’re considering a mobile project:

What are the learning goals? If you’re starting with a goal of creating some mobile learning, pause for a bit and make sure you’re aligning that goal with a goal to meet a true learning need for an audience. Who needs to learn what content? Does adding mobile versions to existing training really extend the reach of training? How will you measure the outcomes of this mobile learning? Use the answers to these questions to define clear, measurable goals regarding the learning you’re designing.

Who is your audience? Any effective learning begins with a thorough analysis of your audience, to understand what current knowledge and behaviors are and how that compares with the learning goals. With mobile, it’s also important to understand how your audience uses mobile devices. Are they experienced with them? What kinds of information do they like to use mobile devices to access? What are their expectations around mobile learning? Use the answers to these questions to align your mobile learning design with what your learners need.

Businesswoman's desk with a laptop, a smart phone and a digital tablet.

When does your audience need this content? One of the best opportunities offered by mobile learning is to provide content learners need at the moment they need it. Do your learners need content when they are in situations where they’re using mobile devices? If they’re sitting at a desktop or laptop when they need the content, then mobile may not be the best choice. If they’re driving, a mobile approach with primarily audio delivering content may be a good fit.

Does this content make sense in a mobile format? If you’re starting from a “let’s get all existing elearning available via mobile” place, stop and consider if that fits with the learning goals, audience, and situations described above. Then consider if this content is a fit for mobile. Can it be delivered in an app that’s easy to navigate? If it’s a video, is it 3-5 minutes or less?  If not, you may want to consider using portions of content in a mobile format to support learners before or after completing an eLearning course.

These are by no means ALL of the factors to consider when designing mobile learning – what other questions, considerations, and factors are important?

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