3 Handy Tips for Better Mobile Learning

Many people, including us at SmartBuilder, are neck deep in the mobile scene with elearning. My experience has exposed many things that contribute to a positive experience on a mobile device. This post shares three things you can easily implement right away to improve the quality of the mobile experiences you’re creating.

1. Size it right

Have you ever taken a course on a mobile device that didn’t quite fit on the screen? If you haven’t, take my word for it – it’s annoying and distracting. Keep your learners engaged by selecting the right lesson size for the devices they’ll be using.

If your learners will be using a variety of mobile devices, it can feel challenging to select a lesson size that will work for all of them. Luckily, some tools, such as SmartBuilder, will generate lessons that automatically adjust the lesson width to fill the width of the device, and adjust the height to maintain the lesson’s aspect ratio. This means that all you need to do to guarantee that no scrolling is needed is pick a lesson size that fits the aspect ratio of the device with the highest height to width aspect ratio.

Let me make it even easier for you. The chart below shows dimensions that I recommend for a variety of devices. The size you select on the chart will work for the devices on that row and all of the devices in the rows below it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7
Nook 7
1000 x 449
Nexus 7 1000 x 457
Kindle Fire HD(X) 7
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10
1000 x 519
Nook 10 1000 x 523
iPad 3 1000 x 656
*Dimensions were established using SmartBuilder and the devices’ native browsers.

In a recent project, a client needed the lesson I was designing to be mobile ready. As we discussed this need, I learned that a large portion of the audience would be using Nexus 7 tablets. Knowing that, I was able to look at the chart and quickly select a size that would work for that audience – 1000 x 457.

Pretty easy, right? However, let’s say you have a client with an audience that is 80% iPad users, 10% Kindle Fire HD 7 users, and 10% other tablet users. The client wants to preserve as much real estate as possible for the course. Which lesson size would you recommend?

This is a challenging situation. With 80% of the learners using iPads, I’m tempted to design at 1000 x 656. It’s difficult to accommodate everyone on every project. In this case, since the client wants maximum real estate, and 1000 x 656 accommodates 80% of the users, that lesson size makes sense to me. It’s wise though to test a sample set of learners from the 20% to ensure that scrolling isn’t a problem.

2. Make it readable

Once you have selected the right dimensions for the course, couple that with the perfect font size and you’ll end up with a good, readable course. If you use one of the course dimensions I recommended above, I suggest an 18px font for the text. Fonts that are bigger than 18px waste valuable real estate. Fonts smaller than 18px make it difficult for the learner to read.

See for yourself how font sizes affect readability and real estate on a tablet in this example (http://goo.gl/exfCEb).

3. Design accordingly

You’ll notice that space runs out quickly when using an 18px font on a 1000 x 500-ish pixel stage. Don’t fall into the temptation to make the font smaller so you can fit more stuff on the screen. Rather, design learning experiences that fit within the parameters. When space gets tight, you can try:

  • Chunking the information into smaller bits. Learners will do better with focused material anyway.
  • Writing more efficiently by taking out unnecessary words and writing in active voice. Your learners will appreciate having less to read.
  • Making the content interactive rather than passive. Learners would rather try things out for themselves than receive lectures.

Try these suggestions in your next project and be ready for the high-fives to roll in.


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