Which screen is seen?

Designers of instruction wonder how their e-courses will be viewed. Will learners engage via a desktop (large screen), laptop, tablet, smartphone (puny screen) and even an e-reader.

This question impacts how we design e-learning.

19226099_sI’ll address this, but first I have to stand up for seniors! It is assumed that anyone over 40 has a slow desktop with dust growing on it somewhere in the basement beside their wash machine wired to their hamster’s wheel. Ha!
Uh uh. I am ‘just’ over 50 and have all the toys. While I can’t text with my thumbs as fast as the young’ns, I can function pretty decently on a number of devices (I have them all and in both PC and Mac systems … sorta my field). Yeah, kiddo,

Gramma has her groove on…

So be assured, us seniors can be just as tech savvy as the digital natives (those born with iPads in their hands, or handed to them upon checking out of the hospital).

While at one time, the age of learners would inform how we designed e-learning, now the rule of thumb is to ensure your e-products are viewable on all platforms.

So what does this involve?

Except for the high-end instructional designers working for companies who require uber-snazzy interactive, multimedia learning technologies, the norm in academia and the business world is to deliver content via some type of website/webpage/web-based platform. I’ll get to the former in a future post.

Therefore, advice in a nutshell…. as you move from a desktop screen to a smartphone the screen gets smaller and smaller. Therefore, ensure your content is chunked whether it is text, images, audio or video.

Got it?

Chunking is placing any kind of content into bite size pieces. For instance, text is separated into a few paragraphs with clear headings; images or illustrations describe a single idea with a caption; and PLEASE…. audio or video is presented in 5 to 10 minute segments with a collection of short versions clearly labelled.

For the high speed world we live in, and the range of readability of our devices, learners can choose and pick what they want to engage with. If they are on the train to work, they can slip in earplugs and listen to your short audio lectures; if they are chilln’ in front of the TV at night, they can cruise a video segment during commercials or scan text; and so on.

Chunking allows quick and accessible learning for a fast-paced and mobile world.19279057_s

As for text, let’s be honest. Who the heck can read it on a smartphone?! Most likely, learners will access text via their desk computer or laptop. So plan for richer media content to be accessed via smaller devices.

NOTE: I recently joined a webinar by uber-cool-snazzy instructional designers who make incredible m-learning (mobile learning) e-learning products (okay, that was a lot of hyphens). When they polled us (the viewers/participants) on who used smartphones for learning under 20% did. Sort of killed their thunder. Goes to show … gotta read current studies on this stuff.

Another option is to present all the chunks of text in an additional format – PDF document – that can be downloaded, say on an e-reader. Yes, some e-readers allow PDFs to be downloaded and read on their systems.

Think full-time working graduate student accessing snippets of knowledge in bed at 11pm.

Within a short period of time, the design of instruction has changed. We need to be aware of how people use technology.

How do you use it?

Summary: Line up shortened versions of your work and sequence it so that when accessed in order will provide rich content. This forces you to get rid of the peripheral stuff… the fluff … and get to the point.

Who has time for anything else?

 

  • Akanksha Garg July 16, 2014, 12:59 pm

    Great article! Instructional strategies have to mould and evolve to include modern learning platforms and learner preferences. Most modern learners are technology savvy and spend considerable time on their handheld devices – smartphones or tablets. With increasing affordability and availability of these devices, there is a marked shift from learning on the desktop/laptop to learning on the mobile device. But this is not without its set of challenges – a prominent one is to fit your learning into smaller screens. Here is an article on the challenges of instructional design for mobile-enabled learning solutions and the ways to go around them – http://www.gc-solutions.net/blog/instructional-design-challenges-for-smaller-screens/

    Reply
    • Dr. Kelly July 16, 2014, 1:57 pm

      Thank you, Akanksha and for sharing that article. I added a comment over there but will share here as well:

      Thank you for sharing the challenges with mobile learning – like you I am attempting to find ways to smartly deliver mobile learning so that it all can be delivered through one device. I think there may be more flexibility with a tablet.

      At this point, it seems to be well used in the United States as just-in-time learning with accessible ‘how to’ resources.

      Mobile learning is on the leading edge of the new way to access education. I read that in 2020 over 90% of Africans will have mobile devices. As an educator, this excites me to know that the world can have learning delivered to them.

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