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Custom Mobile Learning: What Influences Scope and How to Avoid Screwing Up

Look around you right now and observe how many people are looking at smartphones. I’m guessing you’re going to see quite a few—but did you know the average adult checks their phones 150 times a day? Craziness.

You’d think checking your phone that many times a day would become a serious distraction, but 94% of smartphone users say they are more effective because of them. So it’s no surprise that companies are developing mobile apps to support their workforce with on-the-go learning.

While great in theory, developing a successful app is much trickier in execution because just saying “let’s make an app,” isn’t an option (yes, we hear this all the time). This mentality can be detrimental to you and learners. If done poorly, app development will be expensive and leave learners seeking information elsewhere.

Sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be.

What is mobile learning?

Mobile learning is learning that takes place on the go. It’s safe to say the majority of people automatically think of an app on a smartphone or tablet when they hear “mobile learning.”

However, one in four apps created are never actually used—not great odds for such a significant project and investment.

In order to plan, create, and deliver a mobile learning project from the ground up, there are several aspects that are key to take into consideration. The first being to understand the triple constraint of your project and the second to have a solid use case.

The Triple Constraint Triangle

Many use the Triple Constraint Triangle to gain a 3000-foot overview of their project management plan and have rough guidelines to keep the project on track. Below is a quick look at how the triple constraints are used to plan out a project.

Time

What is your timeline for completing the project? This question seems straightforward but can actually be one of the trickier parts of the triple constraints to manage because unforeseen setbacks can occur.

The best way to approach the timeline of a project is to work backward from your due date. From there, map out when you need each alpha, beta, and all other versions of the project to ensure timely (no pun intended) feedback from the project stakeholders.

Scope

What are the features and functionality that need to be included in the project to ensure success? Oftentimes scope is dictated by use case, which is the reason for trying to develop the solution in the first place. (More to come on that below.)

Budget

What are you willing to pay to develop your solution, and how do you determine your budget? The budget can be a tricky component to flesh out. You may see the need but aren’t the official decision maker. Budgets may already be allocated and you have to wait another year before your proposed project is back on the table.

Being able to flesh out a budget as early as possible will be immensely helpful when you begin speaking with potential partners to develop the project.

Key Considerations of Mobile Learning

What influences Scope?

Use case, type of content, and delivery method are the main factors in determining your mobile learning project’s scope. With so many options for each, the possibilities are plentiful in creating the perfect combination for your needs.

3 Use Cases

The use case is the answer to whatever problem you are trying to address through the solution you are creating. There are three common use cases that exist when developing a learning solution:

  1. New Knowledge - New knowledge is when you’re educating someone on a new topic, idea, or process. When you think of learning, this is probably the most common use case you think of.
  2. Reinforcement - Reinforcement strengthens a behavior such as soft skills, messaging, and knowledge retention. Duolingo is a perfect example of mobile learning that facilitates knowledge reinforcement—and new knowledge for first-time learners!
  3. Point of Need - Point of need delivers information to individuals when and where they need it. One of the most common use cases seen for point of need is field reps. Sales reps often have back-to-back meetings with clients and prospective clients and need quick, easy access to sales materials for knowledge refreshers and quick sharing with clients.

What type of content are you going to use?

What makes the most sense for your team? The four most mobile-friendly options out there are: Adapt, Storyline 360, HTML or video.

Each has their unique benefits based on what you’re trying to achieve and your use case.

Adapt

Adapt is a free eLearning authoring tool that creates fully responsive, multi-device, HTML eLearning content. The solution uses open source components to build out a scrolling learning experience (instead of the traditional back and next functionality).

Adapt is great to use for projects that have quickly digestible, bite-sized content and for projects that will be used largely on mobile devices.

Storyline 360

Articulate 360 includes both Storyline 360 and Rise, plus a slew of other authoring tools. Use Storyline 360 to develop custom, interactive courses that work on every device—without any manual tweaking.

It’s powerful enough for experts, but easy for beginners to create virtually any interaction imaginable. Choose Rise when you want to build fully responsive courses in minutes. All you need is a web browser to quickly create beautiful courses optimized for every screen size.

HTML

HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language, is used for structuring and presenting content on the web. HTML is “actually three kinds of code: HTML, which provides the structure; Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which takes care of presentation; and JavaScript, which makes things happen.

Video

Videos are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text, and when you learn something via video your retention after 72 hours is remarkably higher.

It's no surprise that as a training tool, video has quickly become one of the fastest ways to gain and keep attention. And with so many types of video—live action, 3D animation, and motion graphic—there’s something for everyone.

How are you going to deliver mobile learning?

Mobile technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the last several years. This may be great news for developers who live and breathe app development day-in and day-out, but for the rest of us? Not so much.

Some of you have probably heard (and understand!) the words native app, iOS and Android apps, web apps, and hybrid apps. You may even know the technical aspects and reasons for developing in one over another. On the other hand, those details may elude you, and that’s completely understandable.

Below we explain the three types of app development through the context of communicating in a foreign languages both as a native and secondary speaker.

Native Apps

You have three individuals in a room and each has a different native language—German, French, and Spanish. Have each of them write a letter in their native language. Each of these native languages is similar to a device’s native language—iOS, Android, or web.

When a native speaker sends a letter to another native speaker, that letter will be interpreted easily and make complete sense. The same occurs when a native app is built using the same language as its platform and/or device.

Hybrid Apps

Now, take the same three individuals above and have them write one letter in English (HTML). All three speakers (platforms) speak English as a second language (HTML/web code).

They may not “get” everything in the letter due to cultural interpretive differences (how each device interprets the HTML code) so it may not be the best in consistent understanding (performance), but it’s one way to go to get the message to multiple language speakers (platforms).

Cross-Platform Native Apps

Finally, write your letter in Italian or Russian (C# or NativeScript) and send it through a translator (the cross platform development tool like Xamarin or NativeScript) and the translator does the work to produce a letter in German, a letter in French, and a letter in Spanish.

The output letters are in the speaker’s native language, so understanding (performance) can be as good as starting with a native language letter.

Ready to start your mobile project?

Feeling confident you won’t screw up your mobile app development? You should be! By understanding triple constraints, scope, type of content, and delivery methods, you will be well equipped to start planning out your mobile project.

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