Is mobile learning expensive?

The cost of mobile learning depends obviously on the cost of its development.

There are essentially two ways to develop mobile learning courseware – you can either author it in HTML5 or develop it using the native apps of each device OS. Let’s consider each of these…

Development using Native apps

  1. This would be a great choice because it means that there is hardly any restriction on what you can do in terms of course engagement – interactivities, videos, audio, practice exercises, games…the works!
  2. However, a course developed using say the iOS native apps, will not play on a BlackBerry or an Android. So, the same course will have to be developed separately for each OS/device you need it to run on – one version using the iOS native apps, another using BlackBerry’s, a third using Android’s and so on. That could be expensive!
  3. You could of course choose to develop for just one operating system and keep the cost under control.  But in most cases, you won’t know which mobile devices your employees are using. So, your course is at risk of not reaching the learners at all.
  4. Also, with the number of tablets and phones out there in the market, it would be very difficult to decide which specific operating system to develop the mlearning course for.

So, the development of a mobile learning course using native apps would give you complete freedom in design but it may be restrictive in its reach.

Development using HTML 5

  1. HTML5 is completely device or rather browser and operating system-independent. It is supported by all the browsers and operating systems running on the more popular mobile devices today – Apple’s iOS, BlackBerry OS and Google’s Android.
  2. However, it is still not entirely supported by IE9, but reports say IE 10 will make that leap.
  3. So, a course developed using HTML5 will play on just about any browser which means a one-time development for multiple devices. And if you are not sure about the devices your learners use, this would be more cost-effective than using native apps.
  4. HTML5 obviously won’t allow you as much freedom in design as native apps would. But you can get most simple interactivities, animations, videos, audio and some basic games done using HTML5.

In summary, a course developed in HTML5 may not support complex design, but it could be just as effective and reach a wider target audience.

And so, in both development methods – HTML5 or native apps- there are several factors that will determine the final cost and you can weigh these to select the method you want to go with.

So now that you know that you can create effective mobile learning courses cost effectively, don’t let cost stop you from moving to mobile learning!

Should my eLearning Go Mobile?

Everyone’s talking about mlearning – it seems to be the topmost trend in the learning industry today. Companies want to build their mlearning library, quickly and effectively to keep up with this trend. But, since mlearning is still relatively in the nascent stage and since there are so many devices to consider, here are some questions going through the minds of decision makers.

  1. Is it as effective as elearning?
  2. Would it be more expensive?
  3. What are the ups…and the downs?
  4. Which devices should we create mlearning for?
  5. Should we create using native apps or HTML5?
  6. What are the best practices/FAQs/tips and tricks?

Based on our experience in developing mlearning courseware, let me try to answer these questions over this and a few more posts coming up. So, let’s start…

Is mobile learning as effective as web-based learning (or elearning)?

The effectiveness of learning depends more on sound instructional design than on its mode of delivery, don’t you think? An appropriate design approach with contextual scenarios, good visual design and a course structure that’s easy to navigate are all ingredients for developing effective courseware. And these have nothing to do with the mode of learning delivery. However, remember that mobile learning is really “learning on the go”. So, you may want to keep a few points in mind

  • Keep it short and simple – A 15 minute chunk of learning on the mobile is probably ideal. You can cover enough information in that time and learners don’t really have to go out of their way to take out 15 minutes.
  • Use this mode for “just in time” learning – Quick references, tips and tricks, important notes, short “how-to” videos are all great for mobile learning.
  • Don’t compromise on learner “engagement” – Learners will probably be taking this outside their office hours, so make it fun for them! Use all the features you find in most smart phones these days, including podcasts, social interaction, games and many more to make your mobile learning more fun and engaging.
  • Select your topics judiciously – You may not enjoy learning the intricate and complex assembly of a product on your mobile. But you won’t mind learning about the Leave Policy of your organization as a new employee or even how to handle a difficult customer as a Sales support executive! So, choose your topics judiciously when deciding on which courses should go mobile.

As long as you apply sound practices of learning design, you won’t have to worry about the modality.

Look out for my next post that answers the second most important question – Is mobile learning more expensive than elearning?