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Mobile-first eLearning implications for online course design

Mobile-First eLearning surge: Its implications for online course design

Eleanor Hecks, 16 May, 2024

How much time do you spend on your mobile phone as a busy professional? Whether checking emails, reading industry topics or catching up on training during your commute, the answer will likely be hours. However, you may become increasingly frustrated when visiting an incompatible website with your device. Cue the rise of mobile-first eLearning.

Today’s fast-paced and high-tech business world calls for new training developments people can bring wherever they go. Given how today’s workers consume information using their smartphones, it only makes sense to prioritize a mobile-first approach to learning.

This phone-ready design makes training more accessible, convenient and engaging than ever before. Here’s what’s behind the surge of mobile-first eLearning and how businesses can maximize its potential.

What is mobile-first eLearning?

Mobile-first eLearning is straightforward — it is online learning modified for smaller smartphone or tablet screens. The world has grown more familiar with online learning from an academic perspective, particularly since COVID-19 transitioned most schools to remote education. Now, businesses can also use these modalities to provide more accessible training to their employees.

Although employees spend ample time on their computers, they may use their phones more frequently. In fact, 46% of users spend 5-6 hours on their phones daily. Others admit to checking their phone 144 times in 24 hours, with 89% looking at it within 10 minutes of waking up. Some might argue their phone usage is an obsession, while busy professionals likely call it a necessity.

This mobile-first approach to learning allows people to stay abreast of industry trends and broaden their expertise whether they are at home or the office. Using images, video, audio and interactive content keeps modules entertaining and engaging, prompting improved workplace performance and organizational outcomes.

Why should businesses integrate mobile-first eLearning?

Annual college tuition fees have risen 12% since 2010, making higher education challenging to obtain for some. As a result, businesses must contend with knowledge gaps within the talent pool. Offering mobile-first eLearning to employees delivers accessible on-the-go training for everyone — a benefit to those without access to a computer or busy professionals with limited time outside of work.

According to a Harvard Business School study, 73% of full-time and part-time employees have caregiving responsibilities at home. Fortunately, the mobile-first approach to training workers accommodates individual needs, preferences and learning capabilities. These smartphone-friendly interactive designs engage users and achieve optimal knowledge outcomes.

Offering mobile-first eLearning is also more cost-effective for companies. The courses can draw content from existing online materials and save businesses money on providing unique content, physical learning environments and in-person instruction. It also eliminates having to print resources and manuals.

Overall, training aids retention. Nearly 58% of workers would leave their companies if they could not hone their skills through professional development. If companies want to protect their talent, providing a surplus of resources and learning experiences is critical. Likewise, businesses can broaden their reach to potential applicants, especially since most job seekers are interested in working for companies they can grow into and learn from.

How businesses can apply mobile-first eLearning

Mobile-first eLearning has made a mark in education. Now, businesses are using it to improve how they train employees. Here are four ways companies can better implement these technologies into their training programs.

1.Optimize for small screens

The mobile-first approach entails a design made specifically for smartphones. Yet, businesses should also create online courses for other screen sizes. Professionals use various devices throughout the day, from laptops to tablets, meaning they must be able to read and digest the content appropriately.

Optimizing for small screens includes adjusting the layout to various widths and lengths, selecting media with appropriate bandwidths, choosing a readable font and simplifying the website’s navigation.

Optimize for Mobile-First eLearning courses

Engage the user with background music or intriguing interfaces to capture their attention.

2. Include blended multimedia

Photos, infographics and videos help break up chunks of text and allow the learner to visualize and process information more effectively. This will enable businesses to cater to various learning styles.

Blended multimedia also grabs workers’ attention better than strictly text. Studies show 80% of device users remember video ads from the previous month.

3. Integrate interactive features

Mobile-first eLearning presents opportunities for kinesthetic learners who require movement to process information more efficiently through gamification. Interactive features — such as quizzes, matching games and polls — engage the user, for instance, by requiring them to drag elements across their smartphone or tablet screens. Others use background music or intriguing interfaces to capture their attention.

These features make training more enjoyable and give users a sense of accomplishment as they retain more. Interactive elements also enable immediate feedback so users can gauge their progress and understanding of the materials, giving them a better idea of what needs improvement.

4. Create bite-sized content

One can imagine the fastest way to lose workers’ attention is to present them with long text boxes and expanded explanations. Generating smaller blocks of content within shorter modules is much more effective.

According to one study, young adults 19-32 years of age have an attention span of 76.24 seconds, while older adults ages 56-85 can concentrate for 67.01 seconds. Companies should consider whether a mobile-first eLearning course design engages users long enough within the appropriate time frame.

A shift in perspective for online business training

Mobile-first eLearning is ever-evolving but shows promises for improved employee engagement and understanding. The combination of concision, improved user experiences and multimedia make eLearning exciting and more accessible across screens, small and large.

Companies should learn from higher education institutions how to maximize mobile-first eLearning. To maximize online business training, allow employees to learn easily from their smartphones.

for online course design