One of the key features of modern-day digital learning is flexibility. With programs optimized for mobile devices, students can learn just as easily in between work and classes as they can at home. To create a successful online learning program that works seamlessly on any device, there are many components involved. Intuitive design, consistent functionality, and easily digestible content are key. The best way of designing a program that offers all these elements to the mobile learner is by using learning objects.
Why Learning Objects Are Essential For Mobile Learning
For those who haven’t heard the term, learning objects are simply bite-sized segments of learning material that can be reused, adapted, and combined. When these small “mini-lessons” are added together, they can easily form comprehensive online learning programs. Learning objects are essential for digital education of all kinds, but they have particular significance when it comes to mobile learning.
For a moment, consider the perspective of today’s students. Students are busier and more stressed than they were in any previous decade. They’re also accustomed to learning differently than earlier generations. Statistically, millennials are more likely to stay informed about current events through social media than any other source. Research is now done on screens, and information is delivered in packages with far more images and video elements than any textbook can possibly offer. Being able to learn right from their phones and tablets is not just a luxury; it’s expected.
The importance of mobile learning objects isn’t just about changes in student preference, either. The reason behind the marked change in preference is practicality. With less free time to spend pouring over textbooks, students turn to mobile learning solutions. For these to be truly useful to busy students, they must be short, sweet, and to the point. That’s where learning objects make their mark.
How Learning Objects Can Maximize Their Impact
Because they are so short, each learning object must have a clear objective. What will students gain from the LO? Will they become acquainted with a new topic? Review material they already learned? Access supplemental material or assessments? After the purpose of the LO is defined, the following elements can be selectively combined to build an ideal mobile learning object.
While online learning is generally designed to be interactive and more engaging than traditional textbooks, the vast majority of learning objects contain some form of text. Students are using mobile learning apps because they don’t have time to spend an hour reading an entire chapter, but reading is usually an important element of mobile learning too. The key here is to keep text succinct. Decide what students absolutely need to know and say it clearly in as few words as possible. Don’t skip information that’s necessary for comprehension but remember that learning objects should no more than 15 minutes in length. Rather than filling it in with fluff, pack in powerful information with a punch!
Video elements are extremely helpful to the mobile learner. Watching a video is a more passive activity than reading but can impart just as much valuable information. Breaking up stretches of text with relevant videos can reignite students’ interest. It also gives them a much-needed break from trying to absorb complicated textual information.
Photos, charts, and infographics can also break up text and provide useful visual demonstrations of the topic at hand. These elements are also ideal for enhancing memory and improving understanding and retention. Charts can also be altered to use in assessments at the end of the lesson.
An underutilized element of online learning is audio. Audio elements allow students to listen to text rather than reading it and easily learn pronunciation of new vocabulary. This is particularly beneficial to students who prefer auditory learning to visual learning.
QR Codes imbedded in printed learning material can offer helpful resources and opportunities for enriched learning. Students can scan the code with their mobile device, and quickly access supplemental material as needed.
Learning objects are the bread and butter of mobile learning programs. Without them, building a fully functional and appealing learning program would be far more difficult. Learning objects are extremely useful to publishers not just because they simplify content creation, but because they streamline the entire process. Mobile learning objects can be meta-tagged so that publishers can reuse them in future projects without starting from scratch. For you next mobile-optimized learning program, consider using learning objects within a quality authoring program like Gutenberg’s MyEcontentFactory.