Archive for the ‘mobile gaming’ Category

Flash Player On Devices – Going Mobile Just Got Easier

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:

Flash Plug-in Running on Google’s Nexus One

Ok, finally to my point about mobile learning… A lot of learning content developers use Flash to deliver rich and engaging learning environments. Many simulations use Flash, many games available in e-Learning courses use Flash and Flash is used a lot to deliver graphics, animations and different kinds of user experiences that are not able to be produced with HTML, JavaScript or any other traditional web technology. Plus, Flash developers are all over the e-Learning content development industry.

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.


The Fidelity of Mobile Technology continues to Deepen

If you haven’t seen this new technology being promoted by NVIDIA, you should check it out.

This is a partnership between several organizations as you can see from the video, and it adds another layer of depth to the mobile augmented reality experience. I’ve written about other amazing technologies like the Layar Browser in previous posts, and this technology is similar but adds another element by allowing the user to interact with a fictional environment in the physical space. This is the type of technology that really showcases the things you can do with mobile devices. You couldn’t do this with a laptop or a desktop, you need the mobility to move your body around a fictional world. These augmented reality technologies are very interesting when we consider the applications for learning and for productivity in general. Imagine several executives standing around pointing their mobile devices at a point on the floor where an architect could begin to put things together as he shows them layout options for their new office building.

I try not to point out technology strictly based on it’s cool factor and the advancement of mobile learning is my focus. So I will again offer up a scenario, and I would like to point out that this level of augmented reality is really a new step in interactivity, one we haven’t seen with gaming systems or computer-based simulations because it allows us to map the virtual world into the physical space at any place or time, you are not tethered to a living room or classroom. A teacher or trainer could potentially bring a mobile device to any part of the world to work with a group of students using this technology.

So here’s your scenario: You are a trainer charged with teaching field technicians the features of your company’s new wind turbine assembly. You head out to meet the field techs armed with some reading material, a small plastic model of the assembly and your mobile device with a pre-programmed model map installed. When you get to your location, you give the students an orientation of the assembly by having them aim their mobile device’s camera at the model which renders a 3D model map of the assembly on their mobiles. As the students walk around the small plastic model, they are mimicking what it would be like to walk around the actual assembly, they see the parts and the operation of the assembly when it is in motion. At the end, you test the students by asking them to label the parts of the assembly and type in descriptions of each part and it’s functionality into their mobile device before sending off the results to you. You consolidate the results and score each tech, then provide feedback and remediation links to each student, linking them to parts of the assembly they missed.

We may begin to see this type of scenario in the coming months and years as the technology becomes more pervasive.

Children and Mobile Learning

Pockets of Potential Report

This is a pretty in-depth report from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center on m-learning with children.

Pockets of Potential Report

Most of my attention has gone to corporate and adult mobile learning over the years, but looking through this report I can see a lot of similarities with k-12 mobile learning. And of course, the children of today are the adult learners of tomorrow. Based on this report, it seems that those future adult learners will be much more acclimated to mobility and m-learning than the current generation of corporate learners (i.e. digital natives vs. digital immigrants). While many of today’s adult learners struggle with the limitations and challenges of mobile devices and access to the Web, the children of today will only see improvement in mobile networks and devices by the time they arrive on the corporate seen. All of these factors will lead to adoption and an increased comfort level with mobile learning and mobile access in general. An additional point of encouragement is in the many different learning strategies mentioned in the report. Innovative teachers and researchers are exploring mobile devices as a conduit to peers, parents and tutors. Also being explored are the lines between the classroom and the real world. Learning professionals are also using mobile devices as a way to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning and encouraging collaborative learning. Important examples of augmented/alternative reality are mentioned as well among others.

It’s All Coming Together, Enabling Mobile Learning

old mobile phone = Polar Bear

What do these two things have in common? Answer: there’s talk of both of them being extinct in years to come. I would lose much less sleep over the extinction of the old mobile phone though. As I try to keep you up to date on the goings on in the mobile industry, first I have to say again that these events are enablers, not facilitators of mobile learning (i.e. events in the industry will not in and of themselves somehow magically create good m-Learning). Ok, now that I said that, here’s another story outlining how more technology is being integrated into mobile phones and how more “smart phones” are making it to the market. Smart phone sales in the US will double this year from last years number. The way I think about it, more “smart phones” means more capable clients to access the mobile learning we create.

Flash Lite on More Mobile Devices Means More Mobile Devices with Rich E-Learning Content

Flash Lite and WMWindows Mobile

Microsoft is now licensing Flash Lite for Windows Mobile. This is a good thing if you’re hoping to develop or port e-Learning content to Windows Mobile Devices. Flash Lite is a subset of the desktop Flash environment and the version that will be on Windows Mobile will allow developers to utilize components like Flash Video and a significant portion of the ActionScript 3 programming language. What this means is that you can develop full scale mobile applications with the Flash Authoring Tool and deploy them to devices running Windows Mobile. Think simulations, games and other traditional Flash e-Learning on your mobile device. Of course, there are several platforms for mobile development, Java being the most prevalent amongst all devices. The advantage that Flash offers for e-Learning developers is that many companies have Flash developers and Flash artists on staff; and the learning curve for Flash Lite is not that steep.

The mobile landscape will remain relatively wide open for awhile, but developments like this may help to make it easier for us e-Learning developers to develop m-Learning. To see an example application that I created, check out my mobile learning tool called Burst. Burst was built with Flash Lite 2.1, which was the predecessor to FL 3. Flash Lite 3 was released late last Fall. Burst is a demonstration and performance support tool, but if you look at the capabilities of Flash Lite, you can imagine that it could be used to develop several different learning solutions.