Guest Blog by Francis Kneebone, CEO, E-learning Developer + Project Manager of Cognition E-learning
Many online activities are sliding fast to a Mobile First experience, meaning that laptops or desktops are secondary to mobile access if accessed at all.
The reality of Mobile First can be seen with social media, online shopping and productivity tools and now with the introduction of the Apple Watch computing ‘off canvas’ is growing.
But still Mobile is still to this day an afterthought in many E-learning projects and I believe it should be the First thought.
It is often thought that learners are not accessing course work on their phones so it is not worth investing in. Can I say that coupled with this belief that students won’t access E-learning through mobile devices is the reluctance to actually provide quality mobile access to E-learning. But if you build it they will come.
One conclusion I have come to is that to reach the ideal of interoperable E-learning experiences we need to design from the smaller viewport (mobile phone) context upwards. This is becoming a popular design approach with web developers.
Mobile First Responsive Web Design is a term created by Luke Wroblewski that highlights the need to prioritize the mobile context when creating user experiences.
“Starting with mobile first (Brad Frost Web, 2011):
- Allows websites to reach more people (77% of the world’s population has a mobile device, 85% of phones sold in 2011 equipped with browser)
- Forces designers to focus on core content and functionality (What do you do when you lose 80% of your screen real estate?)
- Lets designers innovate and take advantage of new technologies (geolocation, touch events and more)”
The biggest benefit of the Mobile First approach to content design is that it forces us as educational content designers to get back to making clean, simple, fast-loading and gimmick-free E-learning, as you can only do so much with a small phone screen.There is a strength in limitation you could say, but it is a refining through a process of only leaving what is necessary.
Over time this has made for some actual improvements to the UX (user experience) of the overall experience in many web experiences. I find that the Apps or phone browser versions of Social Networking sites Twitter and Facebook are much better to use than the desktop versions. UX benefits discovered through Mobile Operating Systems and Apps have in turn influenced the function and design of their Desktop counterparts.
Mobile First is a design approach that takes into account first and foremost:
- Screen Size – Design for immediate need and design in balance. eg. Navigation less than 4 items deep, Obvious Gestures (for upsize), touch/mouse
- Performance – Fast-loading + Pre-loading elements for possibly slow web
- Context – The place and time of mobile device use is considered eg. 1 hand/1 eye, Competing Priorities, between A and B
To learn more about Mobile First E-learning Design, join Francis Kneebone “On the virtual couch with a Mobile Learning Expert” on 14 November 2014.
Contact us now via email or phone 0400 732 270 to learn how to effectively implement mobile first e-learning design or enquire about our E-learning content development services. Subscribe to our Digital Capability – Doing it Smarter eUpdates.
Francis Kneebone is CEO, consultant and trainer with Cognition E-learning. Francis is an experienced Training Manager and E-learning developer who is passionate about the use of technology to enhance training and learning.
Cognition E-learning pushes the boundaries in the area of ‘point of need’ training through mobile technology and delivering training in HTML5/CSS3/JS and other emerging technologies. Francis follows a Mobile-First approach to creating educational content and learning communities, and has recently released his free e-book, BlendEd – a guide to getting the best out of your e-learning strategy.