Establish the real benefit you will achieveby delivering eLearning on iPads or othertablets. It could be as simple as solving aproblem of access, extending availability -“anytime, anywhere” or a more specificbenefit targeted at a mobile workforce. Ifyou get this right, the rest of it will fall inplace more easily.
Apple and the iPad created the tablet market and continueto dominate it, but, with a projected decline in its sales,will it remain the dominant device? Look at the otherdevices from strong global players, like Microsoft,Samsung, Asus and a host of other well knownmanufacturers. All have competitive and economicallypriced products and all offer the Android and Windowsoperating systems which, we know, are more open andflexible than Apple’s iOS. An attractive alternative and onethat can get you up and running extremely quickly is BYOD,as this allows you to focus on content and leaves thechoice of device to your users.
Learning on tablets is fundamentally not the same as mLearning on mobile phonesor even eLearning on PCs and laptops. iPads or tablets are like mobile computers– they combine the best features of mobile phones and computers and provide anopportunity to make the best use of these features to deliver an unique learningexperience. Considering eLearning and tablet learning as separate entities will helpyou to identify the difference in purpose and benefits each device offers. You canmake the best use of the capability of a tablet to provide an eLearning experiencein the much sought after mobile learning environment.
Walk, dont run. Adapting your eLearning for a tabletcould be your first step towards going Mobile withlearning. Converting legacy content to a tablet-compatible format is a quick and cost effective way tomEnable your learning content. The tablet’s screensize and display area of 7 - 10 inches, comparesfavorably with that of PCs and laptops and thereforecontent repurposing is quite straight forward andoften minimal. Though this might not be construed astrue mLearning, this exercise prepares the ground forgetting started with the wider adoption and use ofthis new breed of mobile devices.
Walk, dont run - Part 2 (all good thingshave sequels!)While mEnabling your existingeLearning content is a great first step,the euphoria of mEnabling everythingin sight might do more damage thangood. Its important to evaluate andchoose which of your legacycourseware needs to be converted; onethat meets the user need, businesscontext and delivers a valuable learningexperience.
User-friendly – Think of situations where users will relyon the tablet and its contents to prepare themselves fora task, perform an activity or simply grab some keyinformation. Needless to say, your learning contentshould be concise, easy to search and consume, andcritically and contextually relevant.Touch-friendly – Exploit the tactile nature of tabletinteractivity and make your navigationcontrols, links, buttons et al, clear, distinct, wiselyspaced and large enough for the user to tap, swipe andmanhandle with the least possibility of error.
Native apps are expensive! Why? Because youneed one for (almost) every kind of OS and deviceout there! So unless you have a very good reason -like a processing intensive task, a need to use aspecific capability like the camera, or if you want tostore data locally for offline accessibility - itsadvisable to invest in a web-based approach. Notonly is it economical, it also works across a widerange of devices and platforms. While apps delivergreat user experience, the increasing use andcapability of HTML5 will deliver a similarexperience and will even better it in the nearfuture.
In our multi device world, where usersoften access at least 3 types of devices in aday, responsive design seems like a no-brainer for delivering eLearning acrossplatforms. Responsive design providesdevice/display specific structuring of thecontent, enabling the content layout tochange to the device, size and viewingmode (landscape or portrait). But, you haveto ensure the relevance, type and context ofthe content, and more importantly thepoint of use and access is notcompromised.
Research suggests that 79% of tablet usage (in theUS) occurs at home as a second screen and mostlyfor entertainment and browsing. As these devicesare increasingly used for email, web browsing, socialnetworking, surfing and watching video, they offer usa unique opportunity to design programmes that usetablet applications and functionality to enable andencourage learners to collaborate and learn fromeach other. Build opportunities for sharing,comparison and collaboration into your eLearning toencourage and leverage the best practices andcapture knowledge.
Devising and communicating a clearly outlinedmobile security policy for your staff goes a long wayin defining the boundaries of good mobile practiceand usage. Login protected web-based access tomaterials are a well established security protocoland are not a great concern, but apps that allowthe download of material onto the learnersdevices can be. So look for additional measures likescreen locks, auto-timeouts, password-protectedaccess to the content inside the apps, dataencryption, and solutions such as Mobile DeviceManagement (MDM) and Mobile ApplicationManagement (MAM).