Instructional Design

Why A “Shrink to Fit” Method Won’t Work for Digital Learning

We all wait with baited breath each time Apple announces a new iOS. New emojis and better functionality await if you’re patient enough for the update to download. But, as most developers know, a new iOS can also result in major headaches—especially when it affects the way an app is displayed, the functionality of a website, or other minor kinks that cause major user issues.

Whether it’s a new version of iOS or an update in the mobile devices your organization adopts, you could find that some of your digital learning becomes less functional and harder to access. That’s the difference between simply shrinking down your current learning to fit smaller screens and mobile learning that is truly designed with smart devices in mind. What’s more, using outdated authoring tools could leave even well-designed modules inaccessible and frustrating to the user.

The Mobile Approach

Some organizations shrink their current modules to fit tablets and smartphones and call it “mobile learning.” But just because you can access information on your phone doesn’t make it worthy of the moniker. True mobile learning takes all of the tapping, touching, dragging, and other smartphone functions into consideration when creating digital learning that is truly interactive and engaging. That way, when Apple makes a change to the display, your learning isn’t completely dependent upon the way it looks.

We’ve all experienced bad mobile design before. From frustrating websites to the bare-bones version of something that is much better on your computer. The size of the screen is only half the battle. While it’s important that your content fit smaller screens, it’s more important that functionality keeps up with changes in technology and platform. If your learners are used to dragging and tapping, they aren’t going to respond to a static wall of text—especially if it’s displayed on a tiny screen.

The Right Tools

The tools you use to create digital learning have a major impact on how it will respond to both users and changes in the platform. Relying on outdated software (or software that doesn’t update with new platforms) could cause more issues with compatibility and function (not to mention display and design). Open platforms that allow development and frequent updates are better for creating digital learning that can better adapt to changes in programs, browsers, and platforms.

It can be tricky to constantly keep up with new platforms and updates, but it benefits your organization in the long run. Creating digital learning that is accessible anytime and anywhere means learners take responsibility for their own learning—all on their own devices. A truly mobile approach is less about what you can fit on the screen and more about how to harness tech to really make your content count.