With the insurgence of cell phones that allow for quick and easy web browsing, (Apple's iPhone and Verizon's/Google's Android most immediately come to mind) we've been discussing how we might want to design Luther's online course to be a bit more mobile friendly.
Any good design project starts with knowing your audience:
- Who will be using your product?
- How will they be using it?
- Where and when will they use it?
Online courses are no exception to these questions.
Students, of course, are the main users of online courses. But we need to think of them as and distinguish between both user and learner, ensuring that the course design meets the needs of both.
We know that when students come to their course space they aren't simply there to use
the web site. Rather they are there to learn the content, to interact with fellow students and instructors, to seriously and academically reflect on the material presented. However, we also know that if
they are unable to find the content, to figure out how to interact with each other, or to easily read the material, they will be frustrated and learning will be lost. Poor usability results in poor learning.
Where and When:
How does mobile learning fit into all of this? Well, we know that for the majority of our students, learning will happen at a desk (or similar) with a computer/laptop. In order to seriously engage with the course material, a study environment needs to be created that allows the student to comfortably and easily use the course web site. To this end, we have designed course spaces that, we hope, are easy to navigate, are consistent from course to course, and present the material in a usable manner.
However, we also know that students are busy people and often on the go - how can we make the experience more user friendly in mobile situations? While we suspect that students most likely will not compose a 500-word essay from their mobile device, there are a few things that we've been working on that may be of interest to mobile users:
- Making the majority of the lectures available to download directly from your computer (.mp4) and/or to view directly from your mobile device (no Flash required)
- Doing our best to make sure any downloadable document is available as a PDF
- Investigating the use of Unicode fonts for the language courses
- Possibly developing a style sheet exclusively for mobile devices
If there are other things that you'd like to see us doing to make learning more mobiley-accessible, we'd love to hear from you.
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonardlow/ / CC BY 2.0