5 Ways The iPhone 5 Will Affect eLearning

iPhone 5Since the first iPhone came out in 2007, Apple releases have been characterized by camp outs, long lines, and controversial ads by competitors. The recent release of the iPhone 5 is no different. Apple’s track-record for successful launches has sent business thinkers scrambling to bottle the company’s secret sauce, asking “What is it that makes Apple and their products so successful?”

The world of learning objectives and MOOCs may not have much in common with Retina displays and 4G networks, but elearning professionals stand to gain from adopting some of Apple’s design and function principles. If Apple can take something as clunky and unsexy as the original mobile phones (90’s flashback warning) and turn it into a sleek aspirational purchase, there may still be hope for those of us who still cling to PowerPoint as our primary elearning content creation platform. With that, here are 5 things eLearning developers and teachers can learn from the iPhone 5.

1. Experience trumps features.

Many of the updates to the iPhone 5 are primarily to its exterior – the new glass and aluminum casing, retina display, and the super thin, super light feel. While sceptics argue until they’re blue in the face that the technical specifications of the iPhone 5 are trumped by those of other smart phones, the average consumer doesn’t care. What they do care about is how their phone fits in their pocket, what it is like to hold, and what touch-screen gestures are required to make it zoom or scroll.

What does this mean for you, elearning developer? Your elearning course has zooming titles, a virtual instructor, and lots of mouseover effects? That’s cute. How do your learners like it? Chances are if you’ve neglected the user experience and gone overboard into ‘clicky-clicky-bling-bling’ territory, you are alienating learners. While you don’t want to scale back on the quality of your information, be sure you’re packaging your content in a way that excites learners rather than confusing or annoying them. Apple has been wildly successful with their consistently sleek and simple designs.

2. Responsiveness matters.

One significant new feature on the iPhone 5 is the lightning fast, ultra responsive touch panel display. New in-cell touch technology has integrated touch sensors into the screen itself making the phone thinner and significantly easier to poke, prod and swipe effectively. While the new screens have reportedly slowed down iPhone 5 production, users appreciate a slimmer phone and better responsiveness.

What does this mean for you, elearning developer? Broken links and buttons that don’t do anything are an easy way to frustrate your learners. Be sure to double and triple check that all of your links go to the correct places, and that all your buttons do what they are supposed to before you publish your course.

3. Niche sells.

You’d think that with 700,000 apps in the Apple App Store, that most of them would be duds – forgotten by buyers and abandoned by developers, sprouting cobwebs in some sad corner of the virtual marketplace. In fact, 90% of those 700,000 apps are downloaded every month. That means that even the more bizarre apps up for sale appeal to certain individuals.

What does this mean for you, elearning developer? Don’t be afraid to design elearning content for your niche. If you use underwater basket weaving to teach CEOs of Fortune 500 companies about the importance of focus and ‘outside-the-box-thinking’, don’t let the elearning medium keep you from making your expertise available online for purchase. General content for ‘everybody’ ends up not appeal to anybody.

4. New technologies rule.

Apple is always looking for new ways to incorporate bleeding edge technology into their designs. Whether elegantly encasing the iPhone in Gorilla Glass and aluminum, or pushing the limits of cell phone camera capabilities, Apple does not back away from a challenge – especially when the challenge is couched in the limits of current technologies.

What does this mean for you, elearning developer? Just cut it out already with the PowerPoint. There are plenty of new tools for you to try, regardless of your technical skill level. Your learners will thank you, and you may find that the added features available in a elearning creation tool liberate your latent creative abilities.

5. Mistakes happen.

Goofy wrist straps? Tiny iPod Nanos with comically large screens? Not everything presented at the iPhone 5 release was a hit. Even the highly anticipated iPhone 5 received criticisms for its elongated form (several commenters wondered what the iPhone 10 might look like). Presumably, the designers and business development teams at Apple understand that with naysayers are a natural part of hype. Rather than shrinking from anticipated criticism, Apple continues to push the envelope.

What does this mean for you, elearning developer? If you’re not making mistakes – even the occasional epic fail – then you aren’t learning. Take the guidelines in this post and any other “infallible rules for elearning” with a grain of salt. Don’t let convention or industry trends keep you from creating elearning content that expresses your talents and expertise to the utmost.

Sarah Eadie is a content developer and online marketing specialist with OpenSesame, the world’s largest elearning marketplace. She lives in Portland, OR where she is one of the many who enjoy the local coffee scene, and one of the few who actually enjoy the weather.