Many people think mobile learning is just eLearning that happens to be on a mobile device.

Technically this is true, but treating mobile courses this way ignores the critical differences in the way you need to approach each medium.

There are many aspects across the design and development spectrum that you need to keep in mind with mobile learning versus eLearning, but here we’ll focus on 3 things you need to know about your mobile learning target audience to ensure success.

What do they need to learn?

In and of itself, this is not a question unique to mobile learning. Obviously, creating any type of training begs the question of what the learners need to learn.

In the case of mobile learning, we also need to assess why we’re using mobile to accomplish this. Mobile screens are much smaller than other computer options, which presents its own challenge in terms of presenting information.

There are also a lot more unknown variables with mobile learning than with eLearning, so we need to make sure the topic and the type of presentation aligns with presenting in a mobile learning format. The right topics, presented in the right way, can be hugely successful in a mobile delivery, but this doesn’t come without additional considerations and often additional expense. This makes it crucial to validate your rationale for mobile delivery.

Where will they be accessing from?

This can’t just be the default answer that mobile is active. As specifically as you can, you need to determine where you expect your users to access the training from.

If you expect people to view training while commuting or during other scheduled downtime, can you assume they will have headsets for audio? Is your content structured in a way that can accommodate the short windows of time these learners have available? If users are on the factory floor, or in a repair shop, are their hands too greasy for reliable touch? Have you confirmed the environment isn’t too loud for mobile sound to work?

All of these environmental considerations are things we didn’t need to worry as much about in a typical eLearning environment, but they are critical components to incorporate into your mobile design strategy.

What devices will they be using?

With the proliferation of mobile devices, it is increasingly likely that your audience will have a mobile device of some sort. However, this explosion also makes it more challenging to predict exactly what device they might have.

Does your audience have company distributed equipment? If so, prediction is pretty easy. If not, guessing what platform your users run can be a challenge.

Luckily, there are some tools that can help. When possible, use Google Analytics or internal tools to identify the devices and software you need to support. This can go a long way toward designing and testing within the appropriate environment. However, keep in mind that it’s much easier to sell stakeholders on the effectiveness of mobile learning if your target population uses a similar smartphone or tablet platform. If users employ a variety of devices, you’ll have higher costs of design and higher costs of support.

Mobile learning: It’s all about the audience.

If you can answer these 3 questions, you’ve established a strong foundation upon which you can begin building your mobile learning coursework.