Make Your Mobile Learning Align: 5 Reasons to Use Responsive Design
It’s a situation we are all too familiar with – you open your laptop to an e-mail sent office-wide from your favorite tech-savvy colleague who can’t get over the dynamic, interactive design of a trendy web site. You click the link and it’s intuitive and easy to navigate, but it stands out from the countless others you visit each day. The e-mail chain’s responses mirror your appreciation and admiration for the unique site. You share it with your LinkedIn connections so they can see what a web site should look like in the digital age. Throughout the day you get notifications of responses on your post. Finally, you check your news feeds anticipating shared excitement with the site you posted, only to see some very frustrated friends who thought it was clunky and even confusing, describing it as a visual mess on their tablet or smartphone. How could something that looks so good to your whole office in a desktop browser, fall flat on a mobile device? The answer is that the site lacked responsive, intelligent design which can adapt to work beautifully on all devices.
In today’s multi-screen world, it is easy to think of learning in terms of the separate platforms. Desktop, tablet and smartphone each with their various browsers and operating systems can seem like their own “walled garden”. However, advances in modern web development and design allow you to transform a great desktop experience into an equivalent mobile experience using adaptive techniques.
This may sound perfect and you may be tempted to explore how responsive design can work for your current training. It’s easy to run with the idea that every course should be built with responsive design in mind, but that’s not necessarily the case. As with every learning course, it depends on factors such as the nature of your audience, curriculum-based learning objectives, methods of delivery, and your learner’s system requirements.
With all this to consider, how do you know if you should begin the journey to create responsive design? Have no fear; we’ve broken it down to five clear reasons to use responsive design in your learning.
1. Your Mobile Workforce Uses a Myriad of Devices and Software
This one might seem like a no brainer. Your company has either adopted a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program so your IT department supports a variety of mobile or tablet devices. But perhaps your company has various departments, each requiring unique software and devices to support their work? Take the example of a manufacturing company that designs complex 3D printing models, but also has a warehouse that stores your everyday office supplies such as tape and pencils? While this may seem like a stretch, many companies actually have learners in different environments which require very different tools. Designers may need high spec computers and tablets, while those on the warehouse floor can barely get a signal but are constantly on the move so they need a course that will work offline on their company issued tablets. If you fall into this category of one size NOT fitting all, the best way to meet the demand for flexibility without sacrificing content is through responsive design.
2. You Would Save Time and Money by Optimizing Learning Initiatives
Most people don’t think in terms of opportunity costs when it comes to implementing new learning initiatives across their organization or department. If your team members are working on unfamiliar platforms, you need to spend time and money upskilling them on very basic functional operations. However, if they can use a platform or device they are already familiar with from personal use at home; your company will make considerable savings on basic training costs. Another benefit being you can avoid purchasing standardized tablets or smartphones, instead, let employees use the modern devices they already own.
3. You Want to Keep Your Content Current
It would be easy if you could create one version of a course and continue to use it for years to come, but this is rarely the case. Some industries are highly regulated and must constantly adapt their training to educate their workforce to avoid big fines for compliance violations (even those that are unintentional). In addition, company cultures are evolving more rapidly today so the “one and done” mantra isn’t realistic. With responsive design, it isn’t a problem to keep content current and maintain it regularly across multiple platforms. You still need to update the content regularly, but your new content can be distributed across the various devices and platforms. Talk about a shortcut that saves time!
4. You Want to Stay Current With Learning Technology Trends
The framework of responsive design lends itself to more flexibility and greater adaptability. New learning technologies and authoring tools are emerging that make it easier than ever to create learning that adapts to new devices and platforms. This design-approach lends itself to the device-specific features that are ever evolving. If your company is concerned about the tangible benefits of staying current with technology, using responsive design is a great way to do so as learning on multiple devices moves closer to the norm.
5. Context and Just in Time Learning is Key
The single most important benefit of responsive design is the ability to deliver true performance support to employees on multiple devices at the time of need. When a learner needs information the most, responsive design gives them more options to have content delivered. This helps to limit the gaps in knowledge that exist when learning simply isn’t accessible. This flexibility and accessibility should be a key factor in determining whether responsive design and mobile learning should be adopted by your company. By arming your employees with the courses and performance support materials when they will actually be useful, you increase their productivity.
These are just a few reasons why responsive design might be the key to your mobile or blended learning approach. However, we don’t presume to make this an exhaustive list of reasons to adopt the design. Every company is unique and different. It is important to think of your learners first and their specific needs and goals. Once you go there, use this list as a starting point to your dive into mobile learning!