Mobile First Designs in eLearning: A Mobile Learning Case Study

From being a desirable approach, mobile learning is fast becoming a standard for online training. Now, you hear of debate on mobile friendly vs. mobile first designs. In this article, I share a case study featuring a mobile first design in eLearning.

A Case Study On Mobile First Designs In eLearning

Mobile learning has matured over the last 8 years and has seen a steady increase in its adoption by L&D teams worldwide. With its intrinsic strengths of any time, anywhere access to learners, it comes as no surprise that it is now seen as the future of learning.


  • It provides control to the learners with the added advantage of flexibility as they can choose when to learn, how to learn, and which device to learn on.
  • It facilitates higher usage and application as it is accessible to all learners within their workflow. They can access the required inputs at the moment of their need.
  • From the organizational perspective, it can address the wide spectrum of corporate training needs making it the first choice of L&D teams.

What Are the Key Drivers That Are Increasing Its Adoption?

Besides the flexibility and control mobile learning offers to learners, the following factors are accelerating its adoption:

  • Look at the extensive usage of smartphones in our daily lives. Given this, using smartphones for training (to facilitate both formal and informal learning) makes sense.
  • More often than not, learners do not log in to the LMS or intranet to seek inputs they need during work. However, if these inputs (formal training/learning summaries/job-aids and so on) are available on smartphones, they will certainly be accessed and processed. This reality check is leading organizations to offer more pieces of training in the mobile learning format.
  • For training to be engaging, we need to offer it in formats that engage learners better. Notably, mobile learning uses microlearning techniques that make learning short and easy to internalize. Furthermore, it normally features formats like videos, interactive videos, and apps for learning that resonate better with learners.
  • Another significant factor is that mobile learning solutions offer multi-device support. This flexibility allows the same course to be available on desktops/laptops and tablets/smartphones. Learners can begin learning on office desktops but continue the practice or quizzes on their smartphones.

All these factors are accelerating the adoption of mobile learning for corporate training.

Now, let me address mobile friendly versus mobile first designs in eLearning—What do they mean and when should you use these approaches?

To understand this better, let us look at the evolution of mobile learning. Then, I will share a case study that features a mobile first design in eLearning.

How Has Mobile Learning Evolved, And What Considerations Are Important As You Use It Today (Mobile Friendly Vs. Mobile First Design In eLearning)?

At EI Design, our mobile learning practice was established in 2011. In the absence of established authoring tools then, we had created a custom HTML5 framework. During the last 8 years, we have been part of the evolution and maturing of mobile learning solutions.

Let me summarize the evolution of mobile learning. This backdrop is necessary to understand as it leads us to the mobile first aspect:

  1. The early mobile learning solutions supported formal training, which was rendered in the traditional eLearning format. During this phase, only certain components of the formal training were made available on mobile devices.
  2. The second avatar was the use of mobile learning to offer informal learning, notably as job aids (Performance Support Tools or PSTs).
  3. Increased usage of microlearning-based techniques enabled mobile learning solutions to address formal training (with learning paths) and informal training with equal ease. This truly accelerated the adoption of mobile learning to address most of the corporate training needs today.

With the maturing of authoring tools and supporting technologies to create mobile learning solutions, mobile learning solutions are now available in 2 formats:

  • Mobile Friendly (Adaptive designs)
  • Mobile First (Fully responsive designs)

How Can You Determine If You Should Opt For The Mobile Friendly Or The Mobile First Design In eLearning?

At EI Design, we make the distinction based on how content is consumed by learners (that is, on which device).

Mobile Friendly (Adaptive Designs)

These are multi-device designs and work seamlessly across desktops/laptops and tablets/smartphones.

  • The notable aspect is that on smartphones, they map the landscape mode well but will shrink when viewed in portrait mode.
  • This approach is designed when content is mainly to be consumed on a combination of desktops/laptops and tablets and partially on smartphones.
  • In short, these designs are not optimized for smartphones.

Mobile First (Fully Responsive Designs)

While this approach also supports a multi-device approach, the designs here are fully optimized for smartphones.

  • The design adapts to the viewable area and as a result, the user gets the same experience in both portrait mode as well as landscape mode of the mobile device.
  • This approach should be adopted when you expect a majority of content consumption on smartphones.

Case Study

Now, I share a case study that features a mobile first (fully responsive design) approach. The learning strategy is Scenario-Based Learning (SBL).

Key Aspects Of Mobile First Designs For eLearning

As mentioned earlier, this approach was used as we expected nearly 100% of the usage of smartphones.

As a result, we had to design learning experiences that were optimized for smartphones. The cues were taken from the way we interact with smartphones as well as from Apps.

  1. The interactive screen had simple and intuitive interactivities (similar to a mobile app design approach).
  2. To bring in more dynamic animations and visual effects, the scenario screens were converted to video nuggets.
  3. Knowledge checks were converted to decision-making activities. Usage of icons to represent key concepts made the processing of content easier for the learners.
  4. We simplified the conversational screens’ representations by keeping minimal content on the screen and using intuitive mobile first interactivities.
  5. We also used knowledge checks periodically to check the learner’s understanding by using interesting and contextual visuals.


With this approach, we were able to create a high impact mobile first design in eLearning. The designs are visually engaging and interactions are optimized for mobile devices as the users wanted.

Listen to the audio version of the article:

I hope this article helps you in understanding the differences between a mobile friendly versus mobile first approach and aids you in opting the right approach for your mobile learning solutions. If you have any queries, do contact me at


The post Mobile First Designs in eLearning: A Mobile Learning Case Study appeared first on eLearning.

Microlearning Case Study: Just-In-Time Information For Faster Learning

A lot has been said of dwindling attention spans and the need for L&D Teams to have online training that can be short and effective.

Microlearning is a delivery format that owes its wide acceptance not only to the fact that it addresses the attention span challenge but also to the increased adoption of mobile learning or mLearning.

Microlearning-based training finds a natural alignment to the learning on the go that can be consumed by the learners on the device of their choice and when they need it.

What Is Microlearning?

Microlearning refers to short, bite-sized learning (often 2-5 mins long and normally not exceeding 7 mins run length).

Let me outline few of its highlights:

  • A worthwhile point to be noted is that it is not “eLearning lite” (that is, a traditional eLearning course spliced into shorter nuggets), but it is designed to have an associated learning outcome. As a result, it can be consumed on its own or as a series of interconnected nuggets.
  • Learning through shorter pieces is certainly not a new concept, microlearning has gained momentum in the last 2 years on account of its capability to keep pace with the way learners want to learn. It fits in well with our fast-paced lives and provides flexibility to learn on the go, complete the training in a short time and access it again, when required.
  • While its initial foray was for Performance Support (job aids to support learners at the time of their need), today it is being used to offer both formal and informal training.
  • Microlearning also offsets the other challenge of low engagement that traditional eLearning programs may have encountered. Given its delivery in wide-ranging, high impact visual formats, and its short run lengths, it normally has a higher completion rate.
  • Microlearning also provides a more dynamic training delivery approach. The short nuggets can be quickly updated and redeployed. From a learner’s perspective, they can consume the learning nuggets based on their preference or need. They are no more bound by a rigid learning path often associated with traditional eLearning.
  • Microlearning can be used very effectively to meet a specific need—that is, a specific action leading to a specific skill gain or clearing a problem. Thereby, you will see a higher performance gain with reduced investment.
  • Microlearning approach also facilitates personalization of learning. Given its granularity, you can offer highly customized or personalized nuggets based on the learner’s preference or proficiency.

How Does It Fare Against Macrolearning Or Traditional eLearning?

Does wider adoption of microlearning means a demise of macrolearning or traditional eLearning? In my opinion—No.

Here is how I see both macrolearning and microlearning co-exist.

There will continue to be training needs that need the run lengths, structure and recommended learning paths that macrolearning or traditional eLearning offers. For instance, when you need to learn a complex application software, you need a traditional eLearning course rather than learning through a maze of multiple, microlearning nuggets.

On a related note, the same training can certainly gain by an addition of Performance Support (job aids) to offer tips, shortcuts, FAQs and so on.

My assessment is that macrolearning and microlearning will co-exist to address certain types of training needs. However, a lot of the training needs will map fully to microlearning approach with the flexibility to personalize.

What Is The Gain As You Opt From Traditional eLearning To Microlearning?

As I have highlighted, the wider adoption of microlearning will not see an end to traditional eLearning. I do see the following key gains:

  • Microlearning-based training empowers learners by giving them higher flexibility and better control on how they want to consume learning.
  • Learners are likely to show higher usage/referencing (particularly as Performance Support).
  • It costs less and can be developed in shorter time as compared to traditional eLearning.
  • It is easier to update and redeploy.
  • It demonstrates higher completion rates.
  • It is flexible and can be used to offer both formal and informal training.
  • It can be used very effectively to bridge a gap.
  • It can be created in diverse, appealing formats that suit the content and context best.
  • It encourages sharing within the employees.

Microlearning Case Study

To help you see the difference in the 2 approaches (macrolearning vs microlearning), I pick a microlearning case study featuring a course on professional skills training. The traditional eLearning course is part of a suite of 15 courses for Instructional Designers.

This microlearning case study reflects how the learning path and the learning experience was updated as we transitioned the source content to microlearning.

Approach 1: Macrolearning Case Study

This demo uses a story-based approach (a storytorial) as an innovative and engaging strategy to present the information. The story revolves around a team of Instructional Designers creating an eLearning course.

Through the story and the interaction between the Instructional Designers, various content types and their visualization techniques are shown to the learners. This approach also helps showcase the ways in which Instructional Designers process and ideate to create a course.

Team introduction: Cast of characters, who are part of the storytorial approach.

Macrolearning case study-Team Introduction

Usage of storytorial: Used real-time situation to explain the various content types.

Macrolearning case study-Storytorial

Knowledge checks: At the end of each topic, a knowledge check question is provided to the learner. This helps the learners to recall the learning from the respective topics.

Macrolearning case study-Knowledge Check

Tips: The course also covers the tips on usage of content types.

Macrolearning case study-Tips

Impact: The course enables learners to understand the different information types and map them to suitable and relevant visualization techniques. Using a story, the key concepts are presented in a way that can be practically applied to the actual work environment.

Approach 2: Microlearning Case Study

With the same content, we built a microlearning-based course with a simple but compelling narrative-based visual wrapper. Different microlearning formats were included in the flow of this course. The learner scrolls through to reveal the content and interact at specific points to view the microlearning nuggets.

Introduction screen:

Microlearning case study-Introduction

Learning journey through multiple, microlearning nuggets: Simple and intuitive learning nuggets are used to create different interactions and videos.

Microlearning case study-Learning journey through multiple Microlearning nuggets

Knowledge checks: These are used periodically to check the learner’s understanding of each content types.

Microlearning case study-Knowledge checks

Impact: As you will note, the usage of microlearning nuggets can infuse a different learning experience. Given the more specific focus and shorter run length, it is likely to resonate better with learners. Usage of high impact formats like videos will certainly aid in higher recall and retention.

Listen to the audio version of the article:

Fueled by acceleration in adoption of mLearning or mobile learning, microlearning-based training is here to stay. Given its flexibility, it can be used to offer both formal and informal training. I hope the featured microlearning case study gives you insights on how the technique can be used in contrast to traditional eLearning or macrolearning. If you have any queries, do contact me at


The post Microlearning Case Study: Just-In-Time Information For Faster Learning appeared first on eLearning.

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PowerPoint to Captivate Process Overview

PowerPoint to Captivate Process outline:

  1. Content Outline
  2. Rough Draft in PowerPoint
  3. Build 1st Draft from PowerPoint using ‘Print – Notes View’
  4. Revise, improve, build ToC,
  5. Republish as 2nd Draft
  6. Add with note, generate Text to Speech audio
  7. Generate 3rd Draft / Print using PrintOutput for Live Narration Script
  8. Capture and Edit Audio
  9. Add audio to Captivate file
  10. Generate 4th draft with Recorded Audio
  11. Add Quizzing, revise ToC, set scoring options, add SCORM metadata then
  12. Publish to PILOT LMS
  13. Verify ToC, Quiz & Scoring, validate SCORM
  14. If PILOT LMS allows, do walkthrough with SMEs
  15. Publish to Production LMS
  16. Verify course title, assign to target audience, and launch into production LMS

PowerPoint to Captivate Process Description

Content Outline

Our workflow has been to build a content outline in Word, this is typically shared as a PDF. I’ll post it, or email to SMEs, and request revisions. (It may not get reviewed until edits to the PPT slides.)

1 Content Outline 2017-03-08_13-13-40

Rough Draft

Our workflow has been to build a rough draft in PowerPoint, this is typically shared as a PDF of the slides. I’ll post it, or email to SMEs, and request edits to the PPT slides.

2 PPT Rought Draft - Alignment Slide Narration 2017-03-08_12-56-09

1st Draft

I print out in Notes view for a storyboard, or 1st draft. Once those revisions are made, I utilize a Cp template with our branding, import the PPT (also with our branding), and work to build navigation, question pools, and pilot reporting in our LMS. (The dual branding of the PPT and CP files ensures that the course drafts have a ‘polish’ to them, where other company course materials have been presented with standard PowerPoint templates.)

1sT Draft Cp BLURRED 2017-03-08_12-59-50


2nd Draft

Once I’m satisfied with the Cp file, I run through each slide looking at the notes view to confirm draft narration, generate TTS audio and set timing on each slide, build a TOC, then publish to estimate timing for each slide an overall project, this becomes our 2nd draft.

2nd Draft Cp BLURRED  2017-03-08_13-09-09


Depending on SME availability, I’ll ask for a meeting do facilitate a group review (which is preferable), or share for individual review and feedback.


3rd Draft

Edits are made from earlier feedback


From there, I ‘print’ to word, and edit the narration text while listening to the TTS. If there are misspellings, or serious corrections, those are made in Cp and Word, and as a last step I publish from Cp again, yes a 3rd draft.

7 Generate 3rd Draft Narration Script Example2016-12-28_14-39-29

This 3rd draft serves multiple purposes –
1) a SME review to the slides (masters still in PPT) and draft audio (from TTS);
2) an Editorial review for style, grammar and diction; and, once those key revisions are included, a working version for the voice talent to use for familiarization and rehearsal.


(Aside from the 1st draft, which is tested in the LMS’s Pilot site, or ‘dev’ for the IT folks, the other drafts are hosted in a webserver on my PC and have no interaction with the LMS. As we get a larger training development team, the LMS pilot may be a later step with earlier versions hosted on a website with no LMS capabilities, as having this enabled without hosting in an LMS generates JavaScript errors that most of our SME’s are not used to seeing.)


Capture and Edit Audio

 Cp Audio Sync

Some audio can be recorded direct to Captivate for editing.

After the voice talent is ready for recording, a recording session is scheduled, preferably in a quiet room, when the surrounding area is quiet, with minimal traffic. Definitely not in an open area or at a cube / shared workspace, as your quiet recording space can suddenly turn into a group work session.

8 Capture Audio in Audition 2017-03-08_13-39-02

Our recording process requires a laptop with power, microphone, USB cable, and specialized software: Adobe Audition has been purchased as part of the eLearning suite.



Recording Work Session

Once the talent appears, I open the saved file, I prep the talent to be sure they don’t need a walk-through, have a cold, or need water or a restroom visit. Often the first timers need time to read through the script.


Then I prompt my talent to be sure they are ready, I begin the recording and ask them to begin reading.


Post Capture

Following the recording session, segments of audio are exported from Audition as WAV files with the slide number in the filename.


As the segments are saved, notes were made on a copy of the narration script with the filenames.

For slides with no audio, I select a small section of blank audio and I’ll export as a segment with the incremental slide number. If I try to skip a slide or two, I’ll spend more time trying to relocate which slide had no audio recorded, or renumbering files.


4th Draft

Now, a 4th draft can be created in Cp, by adding the audio segments, with the printed narration script and noting any bad audio segments that may need further edits, or a re-recording. The Cp slide timing may need adjusting for the human voice over the TTS timing generated earlier.

Visually, this appears similar to earlier versions, but the audio has changed from TTS to a live narrator.

Later edits to the Cp file might be to place graphics, build animation segments, or just to build Cp slides that replace the PPT drafts generated earlier.


A late-in-the-game SME review can cause changes in the PPT file that ripples down through the audio and graphics that have been created. For this reason, it is critical to get SME and stakeholder buy-in as early as possible, literally.


Pilot test

Verify ToC, Quiz & Scoring, validate SCORM

If PILOT LMS allows, do walk-through with SMEs

11 Add SCORM Manifest 2017-03-08_13-20-21

Note that the error is displayed while serving from a local webhost, we use WAMP server, and is shown here to display signs of SCORM packaging. (LMS installations can vary so much, I’m not sure it adds value to display the steps for one particular LMS.)

Production Launch

Verify course title, assign to target audience, and launch into production LMS.


General Notes:

In general, Captivate does not appreciate any text from MS Word, or MS PowerPoint,  via copy and paste. I’ve sporadically encountered this with PowerPoint, as well.

In short, if Cp asks if you want to ‘paste with formatting,’ the answer should always be ‘No.’


Otherwise, it will cause havoc with alignment, formatting, spacing, etc. inside your Captivate file.

You would think the worst case it may cause a crash, but at least a crash gives immediate feedback.

The worst case is that it doesn’t crash immediately, but silently corrupts the file.


Ensure you have Captivate backups enabled, you save to your local drive, and you make copies (outside of Cp) of the working files to another drive. Save your word files as text, open in another application, and copy and paste from the text only file.


I’ve learned these lessons over and over!



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Create a button in order to switch between Full Screen and Window project

Hi everyone, 


I would like to know if it s possible to create a button or an advanced action in order to switch from full screen to window and window to full screen. 

I find this following tutoriels create with captivate 5, but, now, with captivate 9 there should be something more easy like a widget, or a script ?