14 Crucial Tips for Mobile Learning Design

When I first started studying mobile learning and how instructional design for mobile differs from regular online courses, I searched the Internet and would have appreciated a list like this to give me a few pointers to start out. My hope is that this list benefits you and that if you have some tips, you’ll leave them for me in the comments area below. 😉 There is still so much to learn about mobile learning design.

1. Structure

Unlike regular online courses, mobile device learning should be structured in such a way that a user can easily stop & re-start their learning in episodic patterns. Keep in mind students might be on the bus, at a game, or somewhere where learning may be full of distractions

Students also appreciate open navigation (ability to move around and choose the topics as they like) more than the traditional locked-down step by step navigation.

2. Smaller Chunking

Group your content so that chunks of information can be quickly accessed and completed in short periods of time. This allows students to learn on the go and complete as they multi-task. Extensive reading on a mobile device is only ideal when content is chunked and interesting 😉 

3. Minimize Typing

Typing on a mobile device is not as easy as typing on a keyboard. Its that simple. 😉 Keep this in mind as you design your assignments by trying to minimize data entry. Using multiple choice, true false, and matching questions can help with this, but also try and think outside the box. Mobile devices allow for interesting simulation practices and assignments beyond just regular multiple choice type questions. Leverage the new ways of interacting that can be done with mobile devices!

4. Daily Events

The more daily events you can have the student correlate with their learning the better. Its all about making the course relevant to their life.

5. Integrating Location

Take advantage of where students are located and allow them to integrate where they are and what they are doing there with the learning activities and discussions. Topics can integrate location into different learning activities. What perspectives might they add to the course just by living in a specific region or area?

6. Communication and Discussions, Polls, Blogs, & Surveys

Students want to communicate and share just-in-time real world experiences with other students. Polls & surveys also allow students to express opinions and get answers to questions.

Similar to a blog, students can post pics/videos/audio they take with their phone and share it with classmates. One free mobile blog tool I use is wordpress.com

7. Podcasts & Vodcasts

Content for the lesson should be accessible in a variety of formats: readable written text, audio podcast, and a video vodcast of the lesson.  One statistical analysis reported that students believed podcasts to be more effective than their own notes to help them learn.

8. Non-Graded Practices

Non-graded practices encourage students to practice without fear of failure. These practices can help prepare them for an assignment, quiz, or test.

9. Leverage Existing Educational Apps

No need for an etext! There are some excellent educational apps that can increase the quality of the course (many of which are free). Students can track themselves and play around with the app, then log findings as part of their assignments. The apps must work on all mobile devices allowed for the course.

10. Consider which devices you will support

Devices vary and what works on an Android OS may not work on an iOS and vice versa.  Users with the Iphone have higher satisfaction than those with only iTouch or iPad. Constant connectivity increases satisfaction.  One study found that a phone seems to be the best device because of the connectivity but requiring one in order to take a course will definitely deprive some students from participating.

11. Avoid costs to Students

Keep in mind the size of files you use for mobile learning. If the student is incurring costs to learn via their mobile devices, that is problematic. Try and keep images, videos, and other files as small as possible for downloading and use.

12. Find Grades Fast

Students want to see & understand grades easily. According to a mobile survery we sent to students last year, one of the tasks that they wanted most was the ability to check their grades anytime on their mobile devices.

13. On Demand Alerts

Alerts & text reminders sent for office hours, when student’s grades are posted, discussion reply notifications, etc helps increase retention. This also helps students return to the course more often. After all, who can stay away from Hanging with Friends after you receive an alert telling you that its your turn to play! 😉

14. Testing, Testing, and more Testing

Test your course on the devices you plan to support. Keep in mind that complete course redesign around mobile technologies is significantly more challenging than including a few mobile tools into an existing course. Some suggest you only incorporate one or two mobile components into your existing course and try them out. If you have done this, please let me know how it went by leaving a comment below.

Also, always have alternatives in case the app  or mobile tool you chose to use is no longer available or problems arise (which they often do). Having alternative available and testing on multiple devices will help you side-step a lot of the issues that may occur.

If you are curious about how a completely mobile course would work, here is a post on a Mobile Lifetime Fitness course we designed that runs completely on a mobile device using some free apps and Blackboard Mobile.

 

So what other mobile learning design tips do you have? Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments area below. Mobile Learning Design is so new there is definitely a lot of room for discussion.

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Resources:

Designing Learning Activities with Mobile Technologies, Designing Learning Activities with Mobile Technologies, Hokyoung Ryu & David Parsons.

Effectiveness of Mobile Learning in Distance Education. Dr. Muhammad Imran YOUSUF, Lecturer, Division of Continuing Education, University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Students Attitudes & Perceptions Towards the Effectiveness of Mobile Learning, Dr. Fahad N. Al-Fahad. King Saudi University

The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education. Chris Evens. Centre for Educational Multimedia, Brunel Business School, Brumel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UP8 3PH, UK

2009 Mobile Learning Report: Abilene Chrisian University, Abilene Christian University

Mobl21. http://www.mobl21.com/blog/21/some-best-practices-for-mobile-learning/

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