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How to Determine When to Use Mobile-First eLearning

The proliferation of mobile devices has created a hype cycle that can't be overlooked. They are everywhere. It isn't a matter of if, but when we will use them as an effective channel for content distribution - learning or communication. How do we know when to use mobile? What factors determine it? Should your project be mobile? Is it mobile-first, mobile in the mix or not mobile at all?

Great questions. The answer? It depends.

Determining if your project will be mobile first depends on many factors. We commonly struggle with these same questions when we're considering mobile as a part of the mix of solutions for our partners.

The Current Facts

  • We check our phones 150 times a day
  • 30% of people are willing to admit that they get anxious when they don't have their phone on them
  • 91% of people turn to their phones for ideas in the middle of a task

That kind of data says a lot about where mobile stands today, but a little caution goes a long way when caught up in the exhilaration of tools and technology.

What to Consider

We typically explore the situation through the lens of curiosity and a thirst for impact. Exploring mobile generally relates to these factors:

  1. The contextual experience
  2. The learning you expect from mobile - stand alone or supplement
  3. The screen real estate required to meet your objectives
  4. The expectations of change tied this situation

The Contextual Experience

The setting in which mobile learning will be taking place is just as critical as what you will be delivering via mobile. Think through what scenarios will users be engaging with a mobile learning experience. Will it be...

  • On the job training?
  • New hire onboarding quick references?
  • Sales support for reps right before they meet with a prospective client?
  • Or something else entirely?

Spend some time thinking through these scenarios. It will be well worth it when the time comes to laying the foundation for your mobile strategy.

The Learning You Expect From Mobile

You want to make sure you’re getting the most for your investment when you invest in a mobile-first approach. We completely get it. So think through what success looks like for you and your team when adding mobile.

Consider whether mobile learning will stand alone as its own entity or if it will complement an existing learning strategy.

The Screen Real Estate Required to Meet Objectives

How much time will users need to spend on their phones to meet the objectives that having a mobile strategy will bring?

Consider breaking your content up into chunks. This will help your learners retain information over a longer period. But most importantly? Tell a story. Storytelling makes your learning more compelling and engaging.

The Expectations of Change Tied to the Situation

Much of this will be tied to your organizational readiness and something that you’ll have to take an honest look at. This means assessing what technology usage looks like at your organization. If the majority of your team is already using a mobile device–think tablet or smartphone–adopting mobile learning will be much easier.

After these key areas are considered we determine if mobile is in the mix or leading the mix (mobile-first). Either way, it requires careful analysis and exploration to determine your approach.

Mobile in the Mix

How will mobile complement other modes of delivery and still assist you in reaching your outcomes? Using mobile as a part of the classroom experience, as an extension out of the formal training, or used as a continuous learning or performance support element.


Mobile leads the journey, and everything else supports it. Mobile used as a pre-education piece before attending classroom training, mobile used as your sole delivery of content for product updates or new product releases, and much more.

Please see the attached mobile first aid kit for you to use in considering mobile as a tool. It's a quick reference guide to evaluating and answering the questions above.

Don't get caught up in the hype. Ask if mobile is right for you. The answer will depend!

Download our free Mobile-First Kit!

Your guide to determining if your project should be mobile-first or not!

Download the kit now!

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