Moving to Mobile - What are the Gotchas? Part 3 of 4
My earlier blogs, “Moving to Mobile – What are the Gotchas? Part 1 and Part 2” covered the first three of these categories – Define, Audience and Learning. This blog will cover three of the remaining categories – Infrastructure, Devices, and Resources. Outcomes will be covered in Part 4.
When moving from ILT to WBT we had to figure out methods to collect data, identify one learner from another, keep registrations, mark completions and provide certificates of completion. The instructor used to take care of that with paper and pencil and maybe a spreadsheet or desktop database used after the instruction was delivered. We readily gravitated to using the “web” and its technologies to take care of many of these things. In doing so we needed to have a web server - nominally called a Learning Management System – set up and administered. We had to inform the users the type of browser and plugins they needed to take our courses or write code that made our courses available to users using any browser with or without plugins - like video players, audio players or flash. We worked in tandem with IT departments to create an appropriate infrastructure. We need to continue doing that or our mLearning strategy will suffer.
Ask yourself and your team the following types of questions:
- What technologies do you currently have in place and what is coming down in the future?
- Will you use your LMS? Does your LMS support mobile?
- If content will be hosted internally, can the devices access it?
- How will a native “app” be distributed to the learners?
It used to be we worried about which browser a learner was using. Most devices, but not all, come with a specific browser. Additionally, if you are creating native apps for mLearning you need to worry about creating multiple different native “apps” since an Android device will not load an app built for a Window 8 phone or Apple iOS devices and vice versa. Deloitte estimates the cost of developing for two mobile operating systems is 160% that of developing for one. Use the information gathered in your audience survey from the “Audience”’ category to help determine the types of devices will you support.
Your IT department may have already determined it will only support certain devices and mLearning will only be accessible via those devices. You need to make sure you know how this helps shape your strategy. In the scenario at the beginning of my earlier blog, “Moving to Mobile – What are the Gotchas? Part 1”, the example of creating mLearning using iBooks is a great strategy IF and ONLY IF you are supporting iPads or iPhones.
Another new twist to the device discussion is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Are you creating mLearning in a BYOD environment? Are you still going to develop for all devices? If so, what compromises are you willing to make in order to do that?
In my experience this is often the overlooked spoke of the strategy wheel. Resources can be considered software. You will need to have the correct types of software to create mLearning – even if it is as simple as Dreamweaver. More importantly, though, it’s your people. Who will use Dreamweaver to create your cross device ready mobile learning? Have they received training in HTML5, are they up to date with the latest revisions to the HTML5 conventions? If you choose a software tool have you trained your people to create with it? Alternatively, will you outsource your programming efforts?
You know you will need to train your people to use new development software if you will be programming in-house. Even if you choose to outsource your programming you will need to teach your Instructional Designers how to “design” content correctly in the mobile space. I’ve alluded to design flaws in other strategy areas for a reason. Instructional Designers can break mobile learning in a heartbeat without learning to embrace the features provided and move beyond WBT based design conventions.
Finally, who is going to support the learners? Do you have staff that not only understand the devices you have determined are being supported, but also understand how to use the mLearning you are creating? If you don’t have a strategy for support - either internal to the training division or working with the help desk - you are asking for issues that can cause perception of mLearning to turn against you.
In my next blog “Moving to Mobile – What are the Gotchas? Part 4 of 4”, I’ll discuss the last category – Outcomes.
Great reads from Greg Gardner
Greg Gardner is Technical Director at ICF International. He leads the Online Learning Technical Team in the Center for Advanced Learning and Simulation group. His responsibilities include for evangelizing new technologies in the online learning spaces of e-Learning, mobile learning and most recently social learning, developing efficiencies within courseware development and integrating courseware with various Learning Management Systems. He has created e-Learning for Compaq, Microsoft and numerous state and federal government agencies. Mr. Gardner has developed e-Learning content using Lectora, Articulate Storyline and Studio, Adobe Presenter, Captivate, SmartBuilder, and Rapid Intake's Unison. His team is leading development efforts in mobile learning for many clients. He has presented at many conferences nationally.Website: www.icfi.com