ATD Blog

How to Design Training With a Mobile Mindset

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mobile learning is coming. For some of you, it’s already here. We’re all trying to prepare ourselves for this monumental shift in the L&D industry—a shift from one-and-done e-learning to blended learning curriculums that are driven largely in part by a need for more reinforcement. We know how to teach, but getting it to stick is the hard part. And when you want to reinforce content, what better way is there than to make it accessible anytime, anywhere?

But going mobile isn’t easy. There are big challenges to overcome, some that we might not have any control over, such as limitations of our authoring tools or bulky, outdated LMS requirements. Maybe that’s why commercial web pages are so beautiful, functional, and responsive, while training is often… not. 

What Is the Mobile Mindset? 

So what can we do? We can change the way we design and develop our learning.

That’s where the mobile mindset comes in. The mobile mindset is a way of thinking that prioritizes mobile design best practices, whether you’re building a mobile learning solution or not. Research shows that the same design and development principles that help make something mobile friendly also make learning more effective and increase adoption.

By explaining Gestalt Principles of Organization, sharing research on design’s impact on learning, and analyzing design choices on already successful mobile solutions, we can prepare you for the mobile future.

Be Like Water, My Friend 

Bruce Lee has a lot more to teach than just martial arts. In a moment of brilliant philosophy, he instructs us to be like water:


“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.”

This is exactly the kind of thinking we need to adopt when designing our learning solutions. It is the heart of the mobile mindset. Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re ready to launch a mobile learning solution today, even desktop solutions will improve if you take this approach.

When you design your e-learning to be in a fixed-width authoring tool shell, you’re building a house of cards that will only make it harder for you to have great learning solutions in the future. This is a simple example, sure, but it rings true. Even going beyond authoring tools, the basic graphic design of our learning solutions can be another rigid obstacle to designing great learning solutions. It’s important to be conscious of our space when designing e-learning. Keep in mind: just because you have a desktop monitor’s amount of space, does not mean you need to fill every inch of it. 


Want to Learn More? 

This blog post only glosses the surface of some of the design principles and techniques we cover in the session, The Mobile Mindset: How to Wow Your Learners, ats ATD 2017 Conference & Exposition. Join us Sunday, May 21 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in room B216/B217.


About the Author

Jake Huhn is the senior marketing technologist at Bottom-Line Performance. In this role, he manages the design and technology for the marketing department, programs e-learning apps and websites for clients, and assists with company IT needs. He is the author of the monthly #BLPLearn blog series, which offers a monthly look at design and technology as it pertains to learning and development. Jake holds a BA from Xavier University.

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