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E-learning and mobile devices

Our owner-directors have been recruiting e-learning designers and developers, instructional designers, learning technologists, project managers and administrators for over twenty years between them! And obviously, in that time, a lot has changed…

A major development, and one that we’re really seeing affect the skills sets and experience sought by employers, is the massive increase in mobile technology.

Yes, people have been discussing mobile as a key trend in just about every industry for years now. But that’s because it really is a game-changer. As we move from consuming information primarily via big screens to small, the format of that information has to change too. As we move further and further into the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), lightning-fast connectivity and on-the-go learning are the new normal.

What does this mean for e-learning? There are several major areas our clients and candidates discuss time and time again:

Skill sets

One of our e-learning developers summed it up beautifully recently – ‘Steve Jobs killed Flash’. The incompatibility of Flash with iOS has caused a significant shift in the skill sets being sought by our e-learning clients – where once Flash was king, now everyone needs HTML 5. Plenty of our clients are now in a position where they must either upskill their Flash developers, recruit new HTML 5 developers, or do both.


How do you build an e-learning programme that works equally well across a multitude of devices, so the learner has the same experience whether they’re at a desk, on their tablet or using a smartphone? Responsiveness is a key concern when shifting any content to mobile, but can be an especially complex issue when it comes to e-learning because content cannot be omitted or edited – the learning experience has to stay the same.


Another issue relates to storyboarding. When accessing e-learning on a mobile device, learners are far more likely to be on the move or grabbing a few minutes between other commitments. E-learning programmes cannot follow a really lengthy narrative in these circumstances – designers have to consider breaking them up into bitesize chunks.

Storyboarding also brings us to another skills issue – the conflicting arguments as to whether instructional designers should be storyboarders alone, or whether they should be completing the full design and development cycle. We hear different views from both clients and candidates and there’s certainly space in the industry for both approaches – provided that all stages of the journey are taking mobile optimisation into account.

These are problems to be overcome, sure, but we’ve been struck by the enthusiasm with which e-learning designers, developers and companies are responding to them. The position amongst our clients is undoubtedly that mobile offers massive opportunities for delivering E-Learning in new ways, creating programmes that fit into people’s lifestyles and help them to learn in the same way they live. We’ve heard exciting conversations about using the inherent features in smartphones, like cameras, microphones and even GPS to deliver new kinds of training.

The message for e-learning professionals is clear – the more skills, ideas and experience you can offer relating to mobile, the more exciting the opportunities available.