Responsive Learning

When designing for mobile I find you need to rethink learning. I always try to imagine what my learner needs from each project. For example, if an employee wanted to access my lesson while commuting on the train, what needs to be on their screen? Do I need just the basics or should I try to cram my desktop design onto their tiny screen?

Another colleague and I have coined the phrase responsive learning. This is not to be confused with responsive design. No, responsive learning is a theory that I have that true mobile learning should not only know what screen size you have and accommodate for that, but to also understand the environment your learner is in and adjust the learning to be suitable for that environment. Adobe Captivate has begun this process by integrating location based information into your course. For example you could design a course in Adobe Captivate that not only adjusts the on-screen content based on the size of screen you are using but also adjust the content based on where you are. One of the eLearning evangelists at Adobe designed a sample course that would act as a tour guide within a theme park. When users would change their physical location the Captivate project would present new information based on where the learner was located within the theme park. Here is a link if you want to see this in action.

Making of an Award-winning Location-aware App!

I think we are in early days of this type of technology. In fact I would like to see location aware technology go even further than just pinpointing where you are located on the planet but to gather enough information as to determine what type of activity you are currently engaged using sensors that can determine how fast you are moving and so on. For example, it wouldn't be appropriate to have text on screen for a course while you are driving. In such circumstances perhaps the learning switches to podcast mode and presents the material in a radio show format. Perhaps this is done through a combination of GPS location, speed of travel, or maybe it just asks you what you are doing at the present and adjusts the learning based on the answers you give.

In other words, I think mobile is just getting started and we can expect that the most successful instructional designers and developers are those that take advantage of each new mobile technology as they come out. It will no longer be acceptable to just pump out a series of PowerPoint slides any more. I think we are about to see some really cool technology implemented in some really original and different ways. Stay tuned…