What’s critical in planning for mobile or e Learning?

Is it the content or how it’s presented?

…that seems like the obvious answer. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be. It doesn’t seem like that’s always the case.

We participated in a meeting a few days ago on mobile learning. The people around our ‘virtual table’ were shocked that they could only have 160 – 200 ppi for resolution on mobile devices. “What about movies?” they cried! “What about FLASH®?” They shouted! “We can’t deliver engaging or interesting training without graphics! Who will watch it?” “What do you mean that FLASH® doesn’t work on the Mac?”

Mute can be a really good thing sometimes…

These people demonstrated an interface that looked like a web page from 1985 and took way too long to load. They discussed how clever they had been in designing an icon, a title and a series of links to movie and image files – all of it a “small” version of what they’d developed on high resolution, high powered gaming computers.  To test it, they had to send the materials to someone with a Blackberry to see what it “looked like”.

I think somewhere along the line our instructional expertise has been hijacked by the desire to entertain and compete with what we could do, if we wanted to and had the budget.

Here’s my question. If we’re focused on the content, is it just corporate America that’s missed the opportunity to design learning that’s based on the learning objectives and appropriate for a small device? Isn’t that why Apple is making so much progress in the market? iPhone, iPod and iPad apps are designed specifically for the size and scope of that device. Apps for the blackberry and other smart phones are the same. Neat little tools that give us immediate access to what we want. That’s the paradigm that needs to be encouraged in learning development at the corporate level. It is possible to capture the imagination of the learner, teach the right skills – based on a well defined instructional design.

You wouldn’t design written or reference materials the same as you would for web based program delivery – would you? These are two different learning experiences. As an instructional designer you’d want to leverage the unique qualities of each and make decisions about what’s included based on the efficacy of the material and the delivery method. That doesn’t mean it isn’t compelling or engaging but it doesn’t always have to sing or dance.

Mobile learning is a great idea. It takes  advantage of available technology and puts it directly in the hands of the people who need and want it. It’s the audiotape learning from days gone by so that sales people could learn while they spent what they still call ‘windshield time’. Ever listen to an audio book to kill time while you drive? It makes sense and fits into how people live and work now.

So what can we do differently at 160 ppi that makes use of the format on behalf of the learner?

What’s critical in planning for mobile or e Learning?

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