Responsive eLearning Design with dominKnow Flow
Gartner predicts that people will own at least three personal devices by 2018, with 60% of the population in mature tech markets using a variety of screen-based devices to achieve specific tasks. If we consider this alongside the increasing prominence of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programmes amongst employers (Gartner has predicted that 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018), it may not be long before Learners expect to be able to access and complete eLearning courses on a device of their choosing. We therefore need to consider responsive eLearning design, in order to make content accessible on desktops, tablets and even smartphones, and the implications of this.
Design Once for any Device!
There is much more to consider when designing responsive eLearning to ensure that content is accessible on different devices and screen sizes. We have been working with dominKnow Learning Systems, a key player in the eLearning authoring arena, for more than five years. Their Claro tool was the first HTML5-based platform released that was built from the ground upwards, so although content is designed for a fixed layout, it will adapt for different screen sizes.
The recent addition of Flow to the dominKnow platform offers truly responsive eLearning design and outputs to any device. When an eLearning course is published, it automatically responds to the screen size of the device, resizing and repositioning the content. When designing responsive eLearning courses using Flow you don’t have to worry about creating multiple versions of the same content for each device so there is no need to compromise when it comes to course design.
Responsive eLearning design is all about the width of your screen. Users are used to scrolling up and down but the width of the screen is important because reading and following content becomes more difficult when a user needs to scroll right or left. With dominKnow Flow the content changes size and position for different screen widths, and the content itself can also change.
Responsive Design Considerations
There is additional planning required when designing responsive eLearning that you would not necessarily consider when creating a static course.
In addition to your learning objectives, you need to think more carefully about page design, with particular consideration of your break points for each page. Break points are a key concept in responsive eLearning design. These are the points within the content where you are moving from one screen size to another and you may need to change the layout of your screen. There are a number of responsive frameworks within the industry and dominKnow have developed their own for Flow, for maximum flexibility and control but following good practices. It mirrors the same industry standard framework, Bootstrap, and there are four different break points relating to changes in screen sizes, i.e. large, medium, small and extra small.
If there are instances when you want to make an element change at specific screen widths, you can also do this using Flow. For example, on a wide-screen learners may use button based events to walk through a series of steps but on a smartphone, learners may be presented with a video instead. Flow enables you to use the break points to set different variables, so for example you can say at this screen size I want this particular image to disappear. However, all of these customisations are built in the same page. You don’t have to build sub-sections or different pages for different device sizes; you are adding these different actions relating to the changes in screen sizes within the page that you are creating.
Another important consideration with responsive eLearning design is that all of your content will gravitate to the left-hand side of the screen. So, if you add a customised action at a particular break point which removes something on the left side of a page, then the content that remains will shift over to fill the space.
Easy to Create
The look and feel of Flow uses the familiar ribbon toolbar design, licenced from Microsoft, so if you’re used to using any of the Microsoft applications you will be familiar with the ribbon and how typical functions behave.
Flow uses themes (similar to style sheets for those that are familiar with programming) and page layouts, which enable you to maintain a consistent look and feel across your eLearning content. You can easily add backgrounds to different pages, create entrance effects to animate content and use numerous free templates, stock images, buttons, gauges and components to create engaging vertical pages.
Flow offers an array of pre-built components to enable you to create flexible learner interactions. Some of these are:
- Tab Sets
- Click to Reveal
- Process Steps
- Speech Bubbles
There is also an extensive image library and questions, which are fully responsive and can be used as scored assessments (using learner variables to track results) or non-scored practice questions.
Preview before Publishing
The “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) technology used in dominKnow Flow makes it easy as an Author to preview your content as it is being developed. There's a side by side preview and you can leave preview open all the time, with both the edit and preview environment being responsive. It is therefore incredibly easy to see the end result as you are developing your responsive eLearning course, for all of the different screen sizes.
dominKnow Flow outputs HTML5 content and publishes to SCORM AICC and xAPI (TinCan), as well as others such as PENS. Your content is then ready for delivery from virtually any location – the web, your Learning Management System (LMS), Learning Record Store (LRS), or dominKnow’s mobile app.
dominKnow Flow is incredibly flexible and enables you to design your responsive eLearning content down to the individual elements, so you have a lot of control over how your courses will look and respond. Although the tool is not overly complex to learn and use, it does mean that it takes a little more time to master. Most importantly you need to plan your content and consider exactly what you want your learners to see on different devices before you start to develop your course.