Designing Mobile Learning Content: Getting Started

After getting enough inspiration from the current trends and stats about mobile learning, the obvious next question that must be bothering you is – where and how to start?

Designing Content for Mobile Learning

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Just like with any new project, a mobile learning implementation program needs a thorough assessment of the current training situation and the tools being used to deliver training. An initial needs analysis has to be conducted which broadly includes the following steps –

  1. Definition of business goals – As an organization, you’d have definite business goals. As an L&D professional, you’ll have to carefully select which of those goals can be best supported with mobile learning and translate them into goals from a mobile learning perspective.
  2. Definition of learning objectives – After a broad outline is prepared that defines what skills you need to develop, comes the need to dig further. This stage involves writing one-line objectives that will form separate m-learning modules. Get some inspiration to write good objectives here.
  3. Research your target audience – Knowing your audience before designing content and delivery methods is an absolute must. Conduct a job task analysis and corresponding training needs analysis to understand how employees behave while they are at work, what problems they face and what solutions they seek. This will also help you understand when to use audio, video and interactive elements to enhance the effectiveness of mobile learning by embedding it into core work processes.
  4. Understand the devices – The importance of researching your end users’ devices cannot be understated as learning experience depends on them. If employees work on company issued devices, great; but if you have a variety of devices to cater too, knowing them in terms of their specifications will help mobile learning make all the more sense for people who are ultimately going to use it.
  5. Enable appropriate IT policies – Since mobile devices are most vulnerable to theft, damage or loss, a robust IT policy system is all the more necessary as it saves sensitive organizational data from being compromised. Clearly defining the roles, responsibilities and authority brings in accountability and speeds up corrective action in case a mishap occurs. Concurrently, you’ll also have to establish a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy if mobile learning will be delivered via employees’ personal devices.

Once you’re done with the initial setup, the next step is to get down to the root of the m-learning problem. How will you design for multiple devices? What mobile methods of delivery will be used that best capture the essence of mobile learning, i.e. contextual support for enhancing performance?

Responsive content development framework to deliver learning to multiple-devices

Device agnosticism is now the rage, and for a reason. With so many devices, it is almost impossible and exceedingly laborious to design and develop for multiple devices. Device agnostic content delivery is the new mantra which lets instructional designers reach a large variety of learners via their personal devices with minimum possible effort. Device agnosticism is all about focusing on the content and designing it in a way that instead of being tied to any particular device, it serves to perform well on the web in general. As a result, such content is responsive to different screens and provides similar learning experience to all users. Device agnosticism does have its own set of challenges yet it is currently the optimum and most economical solution for catering to multiple devices.

Native mobile apps are another option for delivering learning that promise better user experience, interactivity and therefore engagement. Though slightly costly to develop, native apps can provide excellent contextual learning as they can utilize device hardware such as camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, etc. A few possible solutions include –

  • Experiential learning through 3D Simulations leveraging the potential of tablet devices: Since native apps allow for greater interactivity, they are the preferred delivery method for experiential learning. 3D simulations of real life objects such as engineering machines or the human body wherein learners can interact with the object, turn it, flip it and enlarge it can create better and immersive learning
  • Contextual learning performance support apps: NFC chips and QR Codes can deliver just-in-time and context sensitive learning by detecting employees’ mobile devices. By putting them in physical contact with each other, NFC technology can be used for transmitting information to nearby devices and (say) perform specific types of actions.
  • Augmented Reality solutions: Augmented Reality (AR) programs can make images, graphics and videos to ‘come alive’ by creating layers of digital information on top of the physical world that can be viewed through Android or iOS devices.This ATD blog by Hari Kumar, CEO, Origin Learning explores in detail how augmented reality can add a whole new dimension to how sales reps conduct their business.

Mobile learning has evolved from just rendering e-learning content to creating new, unique and effective learning experiences that minimize learners’ time away from the job while simultaneously boosting their productivity.

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The blog post has references to Mayra Aixa Villar’s articles and publication. Mayra Aixa Villar is a renouned Instructional Designer in the eLearning and Mobile Learning space. She is ASTD´s Published Author and a featured contributing writer for Learning Solutions Magazine. Marya’s works can be found at, and


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