If you have been paying even the slightest attention to technology news or you get out of your house once in a while, you know that mobile is a staggering trend threatening to make desktop computers and even laptops obsolete. And while that may be a slight exaggeration, it is no exaggeration to say that mobile is growing fast and becoming a normal part of how people work, communicate, and consume content.
Should e-learning be any different?
As people get more used to using tablets and smart phones to read the news, watch videos, and otherwise consume content, it stands to reason that they will also want to complete training or otherwise engage in learning experiences using the same technology. So if you are a learning experience (LX) designer, you should be preparing yourself for the day when you need to design training courses for people who use iPads. It is inevitable and before you object, understand that training on an iPad is not just for field sales teams and corporate road warriors who travel every week.
Identify Your Audiences
The first place to start is to identify the audience that will benefit most from mobile learning. Do not just roll out a training course on an iPad simply because there are people in your organization who have iPads. Think about a specific group of people who would be better off or otherwise are most likely to benefit from completing a training course on an iPad. In the case of Capital Women's Care (CWC), the largest obstetrics and gynecology practice in the mid-atlantic region, the medical staff was an ideal candidate audience even though they do not travel. Due to the nature of their work schedules and technology limitations of existing computer systems, conducting training in iPads was an ideal solution. And that is the key to the success of your iPad training program; to select a specific audience that has a specific problem which can be solved conducting training using iPads.
Consider Designing Specifically for the iPad
The fastest way to launch a training course on iPads is to take an existing course and make it accessible on an iPad. But be careful. Although I believe speed is better than perfect, simply converting an existing course for use on an iPad, is generally accepted as not the best idea. In fact, if you read books on mobile learning like Designing mLearning and the Mobile Learning Edge, you will find agreement that since iPads are a different medium than desktop and laptop computers, an LX designer should design specifically for the iPad. In other words, consider keeping the course design simple, with fewer words in the slides and more relevant graphics and tables, and use audio narration wherever possible. I suggest reading the books I reference above and then get a good authoring tool that can optimize your course content for the iPad.
Select an authoring tool that is easy to use and seamlessly produces content for the iPad. This will make it easier to take existing courses and make them accessible on an iPad and easier to create a course from scratch designed specifically for the iPad. Also make sure that the authoring tool will produce a course that can also be tracked through to the LMS so that course progress and completion can be tracked.
Mindflash enables a seamless process for developing a course that is designed specifically for the iPad and that can be tracked so you can run reports on who has completed a course in an iPad.
How to Get Starting
In this post, I have given you a few ideas for how to design a course that can be accessed on an iPad. If you think that offering a course on an iPad would benefit your organization, my best advice is to start small and start now. For a refresher on how to get started, read this earlier post on how to get started in mobile learning.
If you are looking for other ideas on how best to use iPads in your training programs, take a look at this Learning Solutions Magazine case study on Using the iPad in Sales Training.
Have you launched any of your Mindflash courses for your people in iPads? If so, share your stories in the comments below.
Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.