Welcome back to another weekly blog post on all things Moodle. We have covered the must-have plugins for your Moodle site and how they can improve the content and learning experience of your course.
Within that post, we touched on themes and how the effective use of space and appearance are key to a well-rounded user experience. Prior to that, in our article covering common mistakes Moodle users make after installation, we emphasised that thinking through the device that your users will be consuming their content on is vital in the decision making behind how your course will be designed.
Today, we’re taking the time to emphasise the importance of this, while explaining to you why it is so necessary that your online course is mobile friendly.
Revolution, Not Evolution
Ten years ago, almost to the day, the content consumption revolution began with the launch of the first generation iPhone. Seen then as a luxury product, this new internet browsing device was set to have perhaps the biggest impact a single product had ever had on the world. It kick started the technological revolution, sending a wave of innovation and change through the internet, that we are arguably still riding today.
If we skip the detailed history of the iPhone’s rise to power, and just look at the snapshot of 2017, almost everyone has an iPhone or smartphone equivalent in their pocket, an iPad or tablet at home or in their rucksack, but most importantly, access to the internet is never more than a few taps away.
What does that have to do with your Moodle site?
A Global Classroom
Mobile internet has come a long way since the first iteration of the iPhone. Operating then on GPRS, which is more than 100 times slower than today’s 4G standard, it was tough to get anything done – other than loading the odd webpage – over mobile internet. However, with speed increases in both devices and mobile internet, you can do everything that you can do on a computer on a tablet or a smartphone today. By everything, I mean everything, and you guessed it- everything includes learning.
In a fast paced world, students are going to want to learn at their pace, and when it is convenient. For some, particularly the mature learner, this means consuming your learning material on the bus to work; while holding a baby in one arm and a smartphone in the other; while waiting for a friend to show up for coffee.
The classroom has no defined boundary anymore, and if your Moodle site isn’t mobile friendly, you’ll miss out on countless potential students.
What is Mobile Friendly?
Mobile friendly is a broad and really quite unspecific term. What does it mean? Is it as simple as ticking a box? What do you need to do to get your site mobile ready? Have no fear, there are just a few lessons you need to learn before your site is good to go.
- Data Hungry Materials
First things first- think about mobile data usage. All the students consuming your content on the go will likely be using mobile data. The average monthly contract comes with between 2-4GB of data, after which speeds slow or you incur hefty costs. Therefore, stacking your course full of excessively high resolution images or 4K video content is going to eat through this very quickly. Make sure your images are clear, but not too large. Make sure your videos are concise, to the point, and don’t exclude 1080p, to be honest even that is overdoing it, 720p will suffice.
- On a Scroll
Next up, and of paramount importance, is to think about screen size. A smartphone isn’t going to have bigger than a 6″ screen. Because of this, making use of vertical rather than horizontal space is crucial. These devices were designed for scrolling, so make sure your text is adaptable to the narrow but long display. Again, huge images in your text will disrupt this so be careful when you’re planning content.
- Smart Navigation
Lastly, make navigation easy. A lot of this comes down to the Moodle theme that you have chosen – we’ll write about these another time. Some themes are better suited to the mobile environment than others. For example, menus that only appear when you hover your mouse cursor over them aren’t going to work on a touchscreen mobile device. Use themes that respond to clear clicks or taps to help your students access your material with minimum effort.
There you have, the reasons why your Moodle site needs to be mobile friendly, and three easy ways to make it so. Remember, mobile learning is about convenience, and the more convenient you can make you content to your learners, the better their learning experience will be. If you ever have any concerns, fire up your Moodle site on your own tablet or smartphone and see how it responds. Tweaks may take a little time, but the pay off of more engaged (and just more students) is well worth it.