Our Thinking

Can Responsive Design Jumpstart Your mLearning?

John Stone

I have noticed recently a rapid rush toward mobile learning (or mLearning) on mobile devices. As a result, users’ expectations toward learning are also changing. We presume learning activities on phones and tablets will work just as easily as they would on a computer. Consequently, web designers face the challenge of meeting certain expectations to preserve the user experience.

This demand for flexibility has designers turning to responsive design, an approach aimed at creating sites that provide an ideal viewing experience. That means easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling. Traditional or unresponsive websites give you only two choices on a device—view the pages with tiny text and buttons that make it hard to select, or try to zoom in and make sense of the site by slowly creeping around it.

Responsive design allows information to be accessed across a wide range of screen sizes — from desktop computers to mobile devices — by designing the website so it automatically adapts itself to small display areas like smartphones. Intuitive layouts re-arrange themselves and allow text to remain the same size while adapting images and interactions.

In terms of learning, responsive design solves the issue of creating content that will translate to every screen to provide the best user experience possible. Ideally, topics need to be shorter and overall navigation structure simpler. Sometimes it is better to offer different experiences on different devices.

We need to take this concept and apply it to learning by taking into account the environment of our learner and training topics that can be quickly consumed, like performance mentoring, just-in-time learning, or knowledge support. Can responsive design jumpstart your mLearning?

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