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Learning Technology Team

Designing Your NILE Course

Information for Staff

Designing for mobile

Why design for mobile?

One main advantage of Blackboard Ultra is how nicely it functions on a mobile phone, a good NILE course design will take that into consideration.

See the following data, taken from Google Analytics, shows how many users accessed NILE by device from 1st January 2021 to 1st January 2022,

mobile 259,226  (59.76%)
desktop 168,037  (38.74%)
tablet 6,486  (1.50%)

As you can see, more than half were using a smartphone with a significant number choosing to use a tablet. In this guide, the phrase mobile device is used to refer to both smartphones and tablets.

Graph shows a significant increase of Smartphones being used to access NILE compared to a computer, over the last 5 years.

The graph above allows us to observe the trend changing over the past 5 years. We see a significant increase in the use of mobile phones to access NILE compared to using a desktop/laptop computer. (The use of tablet devices has not been included in this graph). There may be several factors contributing to this increased use.

Screen size
Mainly, it is often quicker and easier to access information on a mobile device, especially if you are out and about. As the tech industry recognises the increased use of mobile devices for a range of day-to-day tasks, the easier they want to make it for people to do so. One way they have done this is to increase the screen size of smartphones. As an example, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, has an 8-inch screen compared to the first-ever iPad which was 9.7 inches (measured diagonally).

Screen resolution
If you're inclined to believe the students wouldn't want to look at such a small screen, consider the larger screen sizes and also be aware that newer phones provide very crisp, high-quality resolution (full HD), making them pleasant to look at, and perhaps better quality than their laptop. It is also worth noting that the first-ever full-colour mobile phone screen was released to the market in 2001, whilst many of our Level 4 and foundation students were born in 2002. Their expectations and use of technology are likely to differ from your own.

View as a mobile user

Use the browser to view your NILE course as it would look on specific mobile devices (phones or tablets).

  1. Within your NILE course go into student preview mode.
  2. Right-click anywhere on the screen.
  3. Select 'Inspect' from the menu.
  4. The inspection panel will open. (Normally on the right-hand side of the screen).
  5. At the top of the panel, you will see an icon that looks like a tablet and mobile phone.mobile devices
  6. At the top in the centre, you will a drop-down menu to change the dimensions. Click this and choose from a selection of different phones or tablets.dimensions dropdown list
  7. Move around the NILE course. Try viewing different content and consider some of the considerations in the next section.
  8. To close the inspection panel, simply press the X in the top-right corner.

The next time you enter the inspector view, it will remember the last mobile device you selected. Try to view a selection of different devices for a better idea of how your course will look for different students.

In the year 1st Jan 2021 - 1st Jan 2022, the most common mobile devices used were Apple iPhone, Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy.

Considerations

Use the following as a guide to help you make informed design choices for mobile users:

  • Look at your learning modules. How much of the title shows? Is it running off the edge?
  • How easy is it to scroll up and down? How much scrolling is needed to locate items?
  • Are items ordered in a logical way so that students would know where to look?
  • How easy is it to open learning modules and folders? And how easy is it to exit out of folders and learning modules?
  • How much of your content sits within NILE and how much of your content is linked to? For example, clicking out to an Office 365 document won't be mobile-friendly anymore.
  • Have you embedded any Kaltura videos or Padlets? How do they look on the mobile screen? can you post easily to the padlet?

For a more authentic test experience, use the Chrome browser on your own mobile device, as well as with the inspector described above.

Further Reading

Log in to LinkedIn Learning to watch these short videos.

Should you require urgent assistance with NILE, please contact the LearnTech Support Helpdesk via the online contact form