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The Importance of Responsive Design in Online Education

Responsive design will become a critical aspect of online education in the very near future. Those institutions willing to engage with learners in the online environment they are most comfortable in are sure to have the effort reflected in increased satisfaction and retention.Mobile phones and tablets represent the ‘go to’ devices for the vast majority of people: 6.9 billion global mobile subscriptions will be achieved by the end of 2014 which equates to a 93.5% market penetration for mobile devices. Breaking these figures down further shows that market penetration of the mobile phone has exceeded 120% in the developed world, meaning that there is more than one mobile subscription per person. In the developing world the figures are not far behind with market penetration having exceeded 90%. Mobile devices are an economic and flexible alternative to computers, sophisticated enough to accomplish the majority of basic computing needs and increasingly becoming the common method people use to stay in contact, check their emails, and surf the web. Online educational developers need to be aware of the growing importance of these devices. Often the desire to access educational content doesn’t correspond with the learner having access to a computer, but they will likely always have mobile devices at hand. Responsive design allows instructional content to be equally accessible on mobile, tablet and computer platforms; contrast this with educational resources developed specifically for use on a computer that often do not translate well to the smaller phone or tablet screen.