Some days ago I was reading Steve Flowers´ blog and I came across a very interesting question that got me thinking about how to approach mLearning design:

“Should we design solutions to provide just the right nudge at the right moment or build over-engineered content packages?”

Simplicity and Practicality

As instructional designers, we strive to develop highly-engaging and effective learning solutions. But sometimes, we tend to associate engagement with plenty of interactions and effectiveness with tons of information. As I said in one of my previous posts “anything can trigger a learning experience”, especially when using mobile devices. For this reason, I believe that simpler, straight-to-the-point solutions, can be helpful to get a message across and meet our learners´ needs without the bell and whistles of “over-engineered” eLearning courses.

Short instructive videos that show best practices, step-by-step instructions, field information, etc. are great examples of these simpler ways of transferring knowledge. Video is one of the most ubiquitous media formats, which makes it extremely practical to deliver relevant content at the right moment and virtually on any mobile device and desktop.

There are different approaches to video, from expensive productions to more informal screencasts for sharing useful tips. I am particularly fond of stop motion animations and hype videos created by startups to promote their products or services. With that concept in mind, I created a video that I´d like to share with you today. My goal was to present some best practices for sales people through compelling and edible bits of relevant information.

A New Cool Application

I love exploring new tools that help me present content in an original and attention grabbing way. And, when I found PowToon in Baiba Svenca´s awesome page I realized it was just the right tool to create a visually engaging and ubiquitous training video.

With this new application, you can quickly create “presentoons” (animated presentations with funny cartoons). PowToon offers a user-friendly interface, great templates for presentations or movies and numerous objects that you can insert by just dragging and dropping them onto your canvas. You can also use cool effects, fond styles and animations. When you finish your video you can share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest or, you can export it to YouTube.

To add background music to my presentoon, I used a song called “En la brisa” which is available under CC license at The music serves the purpose to set the mood of my story and convey the idea that the whole selling experience can be less stressful and enjoyable when some best practices are adopted.

See the video here

mLearning Design Principles

Now, as architects of learning experiences we know that instructional design implies much more than just having the right technology at our disposal or being savvy about authoring tools. It´s about how we address the learner´s needs by making the learning experience personalized, learner-centric and therefore, immediately applicable to real contexts.

I created the video with that goal in mind and also, by applying some recommended mobile instructional design principles which seek to optimize knowledge transfer through mobile devices:

  • Develop a simple yet captivating look and feel. In order to get your message across, you first need to attract the audience.
  • Build brief, sequential and practical “knowledge pills”. It is unlikely that we have the learner´s full attention if he/she is using a mobile device to access training content.
  • Design content that is engaging and entertaining. In this particular video, I tried to keep the learner focus on the content through a catchy melody and a well-motivated storytelling.
  • Design content that is contextual, relevant and valuable to the learner. Adult learners are practical, relevancy-oriented and they also need to feel that they are investing time on an experience that, by capitalizing on their previous knowledge/skills, can have a positive impact on his personal/professional growth.
  • Design for just-in-time delivery. Learners are more receptive to new information when they feel the actual urgency of knowing and applying it. Therefore, going back to Steve´s question, I believe that “the right nudge at the right moment” makes learning possible, meaningful and effective.
Through engaging, ubiquitous and straight-to-the point training videos information reaches the learner at the exact moment when he/she needs it and new knowledge and skills are acquired in the same context, in which they will be applied.
Ingenious tools like PowToon help us create that type of modern experiences by incorporating that unique touch of coolness that instructional designers can leverage to present content in a more compelling way and make learning happen.
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