The first thought which crosses your mind on hearing the word responsive e-learning is mobile, screen layout, screen size etc . However a truly responsive e-learning design is more than just changing the layouts used to present the content. It’s about how you can better design or alter the user interface to take into account, the device being used and decide about what and how much content is to be shown. In essence responsive e-learning is not just about screen layouts but it is about redefining the learner experience across devices.
While an authoring tool can give you a responsive output, such an output will perhaps not give you a fullproof responsive e-learning solution, if you don’t consider certain very important factors, while designing it. So let me give you some tips, which will help you design a bulletproof responsive e-learning, which your learners will love.
1.Know your target audience
This is my first and most important tip to consider for a bulletproof responsive learning approach.
With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and ipads etc. it has become impossible to assume or predict what device/s the learners or the target group might use to access the learning content.
At this stage, the e-learning development team or e-learning vendors should ask the right questions to know the target audience, and their device usage preferences. They should also take into consideration the demographic classification of the learners in-terms of age and location etc.
For example if your learners are baby boomers, they will prefer less complexities in viewing and accessing the e-learning content and if your learners are millennials then you have to give them something which they can boast about. Once you understand this, it becomes easy to plan the responsive layout.
Also certain organizations follow the BYOD policy or provide employees with devices like tabs or ipads to be used for work related purpose like presentations, meetings etc. The development team should also take into account such policies or devices as learners will be mostly accessing the e-learning content on these devices.
2. Check if the LMS(Learning Management System) is a responsive one
While developing responsive e-learning content always ensure, where it is going to be hosted and how is it going to be accessed by learners i.e. on LMS or LRS or intranet or any other mode. Responsive e-learning content requires a responsive LMS or a responsive platform from where the content can be accessed across devices. Also consider putting the content on LMS if you re looking at tracking the digital footprint of the learners.
3.Plan the content
This in my view is the most challenging stages in creating a bulletproof responsive e-learning as all principles of instructional design need to be relooked in the context of responsive e-learning.
Some of the tips here are:
•Content needs to be reorganized into smaller chunks and each chunk should focus on one particular learning objective.
•The content has to be made non-linear and independent of the context.
•The content should be planned in a manner that it does not put any cognitive overload on the learners.
4.Go with mobile first approach.
As the name suggests, the mobile first approach is designing the learning experience for mobile devices first before it’s scaled up for desktops and laptops, etc. This is based on the assumption or finding after your audience analysis that the learners will be using mobile devices to access the learning content than desktop or laptops.
Mobile first approach requires certain basic design principles to be followed like:
•Keep the interactivity to its minimum
•Do not use pop ups, rollovers, hover effects etc as they can interfere with the learning experience.
•Avoid using drag and drop method for your assessments
•Avoid usage of drop-down menus or excessive hyperlinks in your responsive e-learning design
Do not use fancy buttons which are difficult to touch or navigate during a course.
5. Optimize the content loading time
As per a recent Google survey, 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load. Does it not resonate with your learners? Will they not abandon your e-learning if it takes a long time to load on the mobile?
The tip is to keep the file size under control. Ideally a file size upto 20 MB can be smoothly loaded on a mobile subject to the internet speed. File sizes can be optimised by changing the quality and resolution of images, graphics, audio and videos to be used in the file.
6.Testing the contents across various devices.
This is one of the most important tips to ensure that your responsive learning is completely bulletproof. Before delivering the content, it is mandatory to test the modules, primarily on the identified target device which your learners are likely to use and also on the various other devices, desktop and laptops, etc.
Testing should be also carried out extensively on the different popular operating systems and as well as browsers.
Enough time should be given for testing before launch of a module and a pilot run of the module should be carried out amongst the focus group learners to identify the issues and collect the feedback. This ensures that minimal or no issues get reported from your learners when you launch the module on a mass scale.
Another bonus tip is to accept that not all responsive e-learning will work everywhere . A 30 minute e-learning course will perhaps not give a smooth experience to the learners on a smart phone, so there is nothing wrong to include caveats like “this content can be best viewed on a laptop”.
Here I have handpicked and included six important tips for a bulletproof responsive e-learning. So what do you think about these tips? We would like to hear your views/comments.