It is no longer possible for a one size fits all approach to e-learning platforms. Learners access the internet these days on any number of different devices, with smartphones and tablets now becoming even more popular for such activities than the more traditional desktop or laptop.
The best outcomes for learners are achieved when they are engaging with the material in their own time and in their own way, on the device that they prefer to use. This of course presents new challenges when designing your e-learning platforms. They now need to be tailored to each device – getting the most out its capabilities and restrictions – so that e-learners are always provided with a bespoke experience which matches their own learning requirements as well as being compatible on the device with which they are engaging with the material.
Different Devices, Same Outcomes
Some learners will be most happy engaging with your e-learning material whilst sat at the desktop. Indeed, this is most often the case. The big screen provides the best visual engagement, and, especially if using gamification techniques, this can be most appealing. However, there will be of course some of your learners who will prefer to connect with the material whilst on the road. Indeed, this may even be a necessity for field workers. But, however the learner is engaging with the material, and on whichever device he or she is using, the absolutely fundamental requirement is that the exact same level of learning is achievable, no matter how different the way in which the learner is approaching the information.
So what are your options for creating the same level of learning potential across the differing capabilities of the various t devices that your learners will be using?
Firstly, there’s responsive design. This is basically when a website rescales itself to fit whichever screen on which it is being displayed. There will be some cases where this will do just nicely. However, depending on the level of interaction required by the user with the site, there are occasions when it just simply won’t translate at all.
So the key to getting this right, if you decide that a responsive design model is your only option, is to think about the smartphone screen in the first instance. Don’t be too heavy on written content, which is rather difficult to wade through on the small screen. Instead, video, quizzes and other gamified options are the directions in which you should go.
Adaptive Web Design
Another option is adaptive web design. This is slightly better than responsive web design in the fact that the website detects on which device its pages are being displayed, and, not only does it adjust its scaling of the information, but it also adapts its layout so as to offer the best user experience available on the particular device. Essentially it is a difference of optimisation that tells these two apart. To take a look at the differences, Splashnology Web Design and Development have a list of 70 examples for comparison.
Both of these options have their particular uses, and what they do mean is that the user can have the best possible experience of a website no matter on which device they are using to access the e-learning resources you provide.
It’s All About User Experience
At the end of the day when designing your e-learning platform you must do it with considerate deliberation over the fact that your users will be accessing this information via all manner of devices. It’s no longer good enough to assume that all e-learning will take place sat behind the desktop – the modern day workplace just isn’t static to that degree any more.
So, your design must be conceived with the smartphone and tablet user in mind. Clean, functional user interfaces without too much clutter is the only way forward. All those bells and whistles that look so great on the large desktop screen will simply deteriorate a user’s ability to interact with the interface on the hand held device. All the buttons, links and interactive elements that you want to incorporate must have a clearly defined place on the smartphone screen to ensure ease and, importantly, enjoyment of use. A user must always feel in control of the interface and their learning, and if they have to endlessly scroll up and down each page, hopelessly looking for that tiny link to the next piece of important information, then they quite simply won’t.
Tailoring your e-learning platforms is an absolute imperative in creating learning that can reach as many people as possible. Importantly, you don’t want users of tablets and mobiles to be at any disadvantage at all, and indeed, the more and more popular they become, the more and more the likelihood is that they will be used for e-learning. So, design your platforms with those devices in mind, and make your learning reach as far and wide as possible.