Is Mobile Learning Too Shallow?
Conversations about mobile learning are happening all over. One community asking questions about mLearning is the community of instructional designers who are wrestling with how to approach mobile learning. As ISD’s, our tendency is to provide the learner with the most information we can as long as we can find it to be relevant to the learning need. However, the prevailing knowledge we have about mLearning suggests that we provide less content, not more. But is that really the right way to approach it? Is the reality that we have to provide less content, or is it more a matter of structuring and access to the information that should drive our design decisions?
We make a lot of assumptions about mobile learners and their behaviors (i.e. they are traveling on a bus/train, they don’t have any time, and they’re not looking for a vast body of information just an answer to a simple question), but are those assumptions right? And even if they are right, do we know that users will always be in those situations and unable or unwilling to access more content and add to their depth of knowledge about the subject.
I don’t know all the answers to those questions, but I am of the mind that we can provide deeper knowledge to meet the needs of our “typical” mobile learner, AND support their possible desire to learn more about a topic.
I do think we should focus most on addressing the learner’s perceived immediate need. But I also think that we can provide more knowledge to deepen the experience if we think critically about the navigation and media we provide.
One example I can think of is a simple mobile learning application about driving a car. You could structure your navigation to make the basic, most immediately necessary content about steering, speed and how to use the turn signals available as the storefront to the application. You could also provide a set of short videos demonstrating how to do each of those activities. However, beyond that you could provide additional links and navigational components on each video page to give the learner an opportunity to see the inner workings of a steering mechanism or a link demonstrating how speed ratios effect braking.
My example is very basic and we know that a lot of complex content will have to be covered in mobile format. But I don’t think we should hold back on content that can provide depth, we simply need to think of how to allow the user to get to it without bogging them down with too many distracting choices that will inhibit the effectiveness of your learning product.
Any ideas about how you could structure your content for easy access to the most necessary information, while maintaining the learner’s ability to dive deeper?