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Mobile learning best practices

4 min reading time

So much of the content and information we consume daily is now gathered using our smartphones. Whether it be the news, social media, watching films or simply reading the time, our mobile devices have become an extension of us and an essential part of everyday life. If mobile devices are so ingrained into our day-to-day life, then it makes sense for your e-learning courses to be mobile friendly too. 

Giving learners the option of completing their learning on a mobile device can be the difference between choosing one course over another or even favouring your business or organisation over a competitor. Providing users the ability to learn anywhere, whilst on the go and autonomously, using a device that they are familiar and comfortable with makes great business sense. Making your e-learning course more accessible means users are more likely to be engaged and to complete it.  

However, enabling mobile learning isn’t simply a case of copying the content and design across, you need to adapt everything accordingly. 


Responsive design

Most people have experienced the inconvenience of accessing a website on their smartphone that clearly has not been developed with mobile users in mind. It may be that you have to zoom in or out to see anything, swipe left to right to read text, navigate through oversized and blurry images that often overlap important text. Not only is this a deterrent from returning to the website but it also undermines the validity and quality of the business or organisation that the website is representing. 

This is something you obviously want to avoid when facilitating a mobile friendly e-learning platform. As long as you’re using a responsive design, you can easily achieve this. One of the key points to consider is screen size, ensuring that content adjusts accordingly so it all fits within the screen without the need to scroll left and right or zoom.  

Make sure the content is mobile optimised, for example text size or quality of graphics. Learning content that relies on video needs to work smoothly, so making sure that your LMS has the appropriate playback software to ensure this is vital. When it comes to video and using the platform in general, it’s preferable to allow for orientation options as it means users can read or view content in portrait or landscape. 

Try testing out your e-learning platform on various mobile devices to make sure that everything looks right and the content adjusts accordingly to ensure everything can be easily viewed. 


Type of content 

When we consume information using our smartphones, it’s typically in short bursts. Social media consists of short videos under 3 minutes long whilst news apps tend to feed us the ‘top 10’ stories including a brief summary so that we can be updated in a matter of minutes. Adapting your content so that it conforms to this standard will make it easier for the user to digest as it’s what the modern learner will be used to.  

Long pieces of writing don’t work as well on a mobile device as they do on a PC/laptop, it’s harder to read and can look dense or cluttered. Try to keep text short and concise without simply cutting down pre-existing content. It’s worth considering microlearning for mobile devices, as it is well-suited to mobile learning. This learning technique typically consists of short bursts of content which usually take under 15 minutes to consume.  


Keeping users engaged 

One of the negative sides to mobile learning is that learners can easily get distracted. A text message notification might pop up or a learner may be tempted to switch over to a social media app instead. Users are more likely to stay focused and want to stay on the learning platform if the courses and lessons are engaging enough. 

Think about what learners typically find entertaining whilst on their smartphones and try to incorporate some of that into your learning programme. Look to include videos, and infographics or add a gamification element with fun quizzes.   


Keep it user friendly 

It’s important not to overcomplicate your learning platform when it comes to mobile learning. As mentioned above, keep in mind the size of the screen and steer clear of ‘clutter’. Map out the journey of the user and only include the necessary elements.  

Make sure everything that is important to the learner is easily accessible with a navigation bar. This could include their user profile, enrolled courses, notifications or downloaded content. It’s best to keep a user’s current learning on the home page so it’s readily available and easy to access. Make it even easier for mobile users to access the learning platform by allowing single sign on support.   


Offline learning 

A functionality that comes as standard with most entertainment or education apps such as Spotify or Audible is the ability to download content for offline use. One of the biggest benefits of mobile learning is that users can learn anywhere at any time however, this isn’t always the case if they need internet access to complete lessons. Enabling users to learn offline takes the flexibility of mobile learning one significant step further. 

A modern LMS will allow you to enable users to download SCORM activities to complete offline. An LMS such as Totara Learn offers a Totara Mobile app which includes a custom-built offline player for SCORM activities, meaning learners can complete courses offline and then submit their answers and completion once they’re back online.  



Using analytics, you can track user behaviour across your ‘standard’ e-learning platform and your mobile platform. It’s worthwhile comparing data to see how results and e-learning practices might differ across these platforms.  

Use this data to identify methods that resonate in a mobile setting, adjust strategy and employ mobile application data for faster learning innovations. Take into account the type of user that is responding well to mobile learning and look at ways to retain them and encourage others to show similar levels of engagement.  

With the data you gather from LMS analytics you can look to adapt learning content to the type of user who is favouring one learning platform over the other. This may be based on age, job role or chosen course subject if they’re a student 


Find out what’s possible… 

Without the right LMS, facilitating mobile learning can be complex and without the right LMS provider, it may be difficult to understand the full range of features that your LMS is capable of and, in this specific instance, how to get the most out of your LMS’s mobile learning features. 

As a Totara Platinum Alliance Partner and Moodle expert, we design and deliver high quality e-learning solutions for leading UK businesses and organisations, building lasting relationships so that they can realise the full potential of their learning and development projects. Chat with one of our experts today to find out how you can get the most out of your LMS and build the best mobile learning platform to suit your L&D goals.


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