Effective instructional design for mobile learning

va Y M Tsang, K S Yuen and Belle P P Cheung
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Mobile learning contents can be developed in PDF format for a linear model of learning, or in ePub form, with multimedia functionalities. The iBooks format further allows the inclusion of many instructional design strategies so that effective and meaningful learning opportunities can be provided to learners, both within and outside school settings. In 2011, the Open University of Hong Kong started to develop four mobile learning modules for enhancing the language proficiency of its undergraduate students using iBooks Author.

This paper first discusses the architecture of an effective mobile learning module — that is, its user interface, learning design, content delivery, multimedia presentation and interactive activity, with reference to its capability for arousing learners’ interest and motivating them to learn. Reference is also made to design principles of multimedia learning (Mayer and Moreno 2003) for effective learning. For example, in multimedia presentation there should be content segmentation, with verbal and pictorial materials well aligned to avoid cognitive overload.

The paper goes on to describe the formative development of the learning modules. All modules were developed based on a rapid prototype in which the instructional designers and content experts receive continual or formative feedback while creating instructional materials.

When the modules were completely developed, they were tried out on 60 students using their iPads to study language mobile modules. (The effectiveness of the trial is reported in a separate paper in the conference.) The students’ comments on the modules’ functionality and features, learner-content interaction, self-evaluation on interest and motivation given in the focus group interviews were recorded and analysed. In addition, groups of professional instructional designers were asked to give summative feedback on the mobile learning modules. Such advice and suggestions, together with the feedback from students, helped us to gain professional insights for the revision and future developments of the mobile learning modules.

The discussion on the interactive design effects of mobile learning modules contains two parts: (1) the effectiveness of the instructional design in helping learners to learn; and (2) the motivational effects and the degree to which mobile learning modules arouse learners’ interest.

The conclusion of the paper consolidates the salient features of our mobile learning modules.