Archive for the ‘us mobile learning’ Tag
Here’s a link to a Yahoo news story about mobile device addiction. Stanford University did a study on iPhone use and feelings about the iPhone within their student population. This is a quick and interesting read, and it speaks to the fondness that many people have for their mobile devices. Mobile devices definitely hold a special place in our lives, and therefore they hold a whole new place in our culture.
iPhone is definitely an example of a device that holds a special place in the hearts of its’ owners, now you’ll get an idea of how people feel about it.
Here’s a link to the Yahoo News article
As one Google guy I spoke with recently said, “everyone is thinking about mobile.” And that is a really good thing for mobile learning. All the money and concentrated brain power of some of the most innovative and powerful companies will certainly yield some great results in the form of new software, hardware and cloud based applications to enable our productivity and creativity.
One of the best signs for those who make learning content is the Flash Player finally coming to mobile devices in large numbers. Some of you may be familiar with the trials Adobe has had in bringing the Flash player to the mobile area. It has actually been in use, in the form of Flash Lite for several years now. We don’t necessarily see it in North America, but it’s been used heavily in places like Japan and parts of Europe to deliver content. But now Adobe has adapted the Flash player to run higher end content on new devices. The version that will run on devices is 10.1, so it’s able to provide of all the modern Flash capabilities. Apple is still not allowing the Flash Player on the iPhone, and depending on who you talk to it’s either because the Flash Player is “too resource intensive” for the iPhone OR Apple has made a “business decision” not to allow the Flash Player on the iPhone because Apple plans to use a competing technology to deliver video and other content that Flash has been good at for awhile now. Those other competing standards may come in the form of HTML 5, QuickTime or something else that Apple has up their sleeve. I’m sure we will all hear a lot of buzz about whatever it is when they finally bring it out.
But iPhone aside, Adobe has been doing a lot to try to get mobile device manufacturers to include the Flash Player on their devices as either a stand-alone player or a browser plug-in. And the newest version of the plug-in is good by most accounts – take a look at what it’s capable of here:
With a large Flash developer base in the e-Learning community, your designers and developers can now start to take advantage of the mobile player. This means you can re-purpose your older content, and make new content immediately deliverable to mobile devices without going through an app store or marketplace that you can not control.
Now, I understand that Flash has its’ issues. Security, and performance on mobile devices has been in question before. However, no mobile device or mobile software has conquered the security problem yet, so I wouldn’t let the Flash player be my reason for not going mobile with it. And I don’t think Flash Player 10.1 will run well on older devices. But as you can see if you look at the link above, it runs very smoothly on a modern device (Google’s Nexus One). And as people upgrade to newer devices, we’ll see more processor power, which will make performance a non-issue.
I do believe that the Flash player will be available on many newer mobile devices very soon, so start getting your developers ready to create some pretty interesting learning content.
There’s been a big stir of comments, reviews, predictions etc. surroungding the release of the newest Android device in the US. The Motorola Droid was released a few weeks back on the Verizon network and so far the reviews and comments have been pretty positive. A lot of reviewers consider the device and it’s operating system to be the first formidable competitor to the iPhone in terms of overall capability. I am going to purchase a Droid in the coming weeks because it’s time for me to upgrade from my trusty Motorola Q9 (2nd generation Q, 1st generation was not so trusty).
Anyway, the recent release of a Android 2.0 device on a major network in the US is really a big deal because it may start to reduce the fragmentation amongst the crowded smartphone landscape here and possibly across the world. Android is very capable, and the development community for Android is increasing daily. iPhone is the well established champion that has long lacked a real challenger. Now that we will have 2 major platforms that do what learners want them to do (everything, web surfing, apps, music, video, etc.), we may start to see some of the other players in that smartphone market tick off. And as we continue to see the population as a whole asking for more features, we will probably see feature phones phased out in favor of a new baseline of functionality in all mobile devices. Just as you can no longer buy a non-touchtone phone for your house, you won’t be able to buy a device that doesn’t access the web and doesn’t have the ability to download apps.
So if you’re looking to build a mobile learning application or to be the provider of mobile learning resources of any kind, you may want to consider the possibility that we will see only a few of the current players in the mobile platform market in a couple of years. My guess is that in 5 years, the major players will be Android, iPhone and Symbian (Nokia, Sony-Ericsson).
I think Windows mobile will still be a fringe competitor because they have the money to stay in any fight for now. I think RIM (Blackberry) may be able to stay in at the edges too if they somehow create a real competitive OS, but right now I don’t hear much about them moving in that direction. They could also adopt another OS like Android and somehow integrate their security features and push technology that makes them so popular with corporations. Palm, I want to see them succeed, but they need to do a bunch of things to help their chances, like get their devices on major networks, build a bigger developer base for application and services development and continue to come out with new and different devices. At this time, Palm’s future doesn’t look so good even with their new WebOS, but they could also find a savior in Android, or they could find a way to make their device a major player in other ways.
These developments could be good for mobile learning in a couple of ways. First, as the platform developers listen to users, it appears that we are finally getting a baseline of functionality that people want. As I eluded to earlier, web access and a real browser are at the top, and the ability to download/access applicatons is very big as well. Devices are also going to come with much better media tools, cameras, and video capture technologies. Second, defragmentation of the market allows mobile learning developers and designers to target just one or two platforms with the expectation of access to the masses. As a developer, this second issue is really pretty important. We would all love to build for every platform out there, but there simply isn’t time or money available in most cases especially when it comes to learning.
If you’d like to know more about some factors driving the defragmentation of the mobile landscape, take a look at this blog post from Jason Perlow at ZDNET:
According to this report from MediaPost (a web site devoted to advertising and mobility) mobile web usage continues to grow, which we knew. However, the report also goes on to talk about the frustrations many users experience with the mobile web. You can see the actual stats cited from Nielsen here.
Most users are probably frustrated by the “mobile web” because the web they are viewing is often the same web that’s formatted for the desktop and desktop browsers. Many of us who’ve tried to load a desktop site on a mobile browser know how poorly mobile browsers render those sites. Often you get a column of content with everything running vertically, and trying to find a link or read the text is so difficult that we just give up. Safari on the iPhone and Opera do better, but they are still not ideal for mobile users. And one thing that should be noted is that it’s not that difficult to build a mobile site. First of all, your users probably don’t want everything you are offering on your desktop site, especially if you have a lot of links and navigation. You may be able to work with a subset of content and navigation, so that makes it easier for the developer. But even if you have to provide most or all of your navigation, you can format it for mobile consumption so your users will stay on your site find the information they need. Some helpful development resources are shown below:
Great book about mobile web design:
Some information to get you up on terminology and history:
Platform Specific Sites:
iPhone and Safari:
Note: Link is on the right side, “Safari on iPhone and iPod Touch”
tips and pointers:
simulator (will show you what it looks like in the iPhone frame, doesn’t mimic the touch, gestures, etc.)
Blackberry development program area –
AND I WOULDN’T BE TRUE TO MY MOBILE DEV ROOTS WITHOUT FLASH/FLASH LITE – which should be picking up some significant steam as it gains support on most platforms. It’s still my personal favorite, but that’s the Flash Developer in me coming out, I’ve also done work on the other platforms above.
As an advocate for corporate mobile learning, I’m always encouraged when I hear about a company that takes it seriously. Lots of companies have experimented with podcasts and some have even produced html based learning content for their customers or employees, but it has yet to win broad acceptance in the corporate training community. However, there are a few exceptions, companies that have taken the plunge and they are realizing the benefits of their investment in mobile learning.
In an earlier post, I wrote about Mobile Learning at Merrill Lynch, where they’ve adopted m-Learning as a serious option for training their employees. In another, similar success story, Accenture (a large consulting firm) has embraced mobile learning for their employees and their senior executives in particular. Here’s a link to an article in Training Magazine where they discuss the mobile learning program at Accenture.
Accenture chose to use mobile learning as an augmentation to it’s normal e-Learning platform, specifically for compliance training on a number of topics. Results from their internal surveys indicate that learners liked the new mobile training modality and they plan to offer more of it in the future. Highlights from their internal survey of learners include the following observations:
- more than 1000 completions of 7 courses
- overall satisfaction rating of 4.4 out of 5, compared to 4.0 out of 5 for traditional e-Learning
- 92% of those surveyed would like to use their mobile device for training
- most executives who took the training would prefer their mobile learning in chunks of 10-15 minutes
- over half of the respondents would prefer an option to download their courses so they could take them when not connected to the Internet
An important thing to note here is the fact that some of the findings reinforce many of the guidelines we’ve been given when designing mobile learning assets. Those guidelines include keeping your mobile learning assets between 5-15 minutes (small chunks) and the suggestion that you consider the fact that the learner may not have a good connection/or any connection to the Internet. It’s good to see that the designers in this case took the time to consider these guidelines when designing their courses. You can read the whole article (here), make sure you read the “Quick Tips” section for some valuable insight into their design process, perhaps it can help you with your own designs. I really liked the idea of bookmarking all the pages, that makes a lot of sense for a mobile learner who may be intermittently engaged in your training.
Thanks to Training Magazine and author Sarah Boehle for this article.