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Mobile Learning: The Low-Hanging Fruit
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  • Welcome to Mobile Learning: The Low Hanging Fruit. We’re going to discuss simple ways to get started with mobile learning. The concrete examples we provide require little or no technical expertise. You’ll be able to point-and-click your way into the world of mlearning.
  • Let’s begin by discussing why we are here.My guess is that everyone here has seen an explosion of mobile devices in their professional and personal lives. Let’s look at a few statistics that will justify the next half hour that we are going to spend talking about mobile learning:First, half of all mobile users will be web-enabled by 2013. By 2015, a majority of Americans will have smartphones. Next, when it comes to accessing the web, 25% of smartphone owners prefer their smartphones over their PC. Think about that… if you were to ask these people to visit a site, 1 out of 4 would prefer to use their smartphone. By 2014, mobile internet should overtake desktop internet usage. More American adults own a smartphone than have a college degree.
  • You may look at these statistics and say, “Yeah, but these people are all checking their Facebook statuses on their mobile devices. They’re not using them at work.Not true…200 corporations and educational organizations were surveyed, and 22% are already doing mobile learning. 54% plan to being offering mobile learning in the near futureAs an example, 49% of CIO’s said their companies will increase the use of tablets in the next two years.
  • When our clients ask for advice on how to get started with mobile learning, I normally talk about my trip to France.My wife and I vacationed in France a few years ago. Before the trip, we watched Parisian movies and read books about Paris. However, during our trip, we used walking audio tours, pocket language guides, etc. Before the trip, we used materials that were longer and required more concentration… we were learning new content.During the trip, we used materials that were smaller, mobile, and more of a reference tool… we need just-in-time content.So, when our clients ask about mobile learning, we tell them that they can create complex multimedia, simulations, games, and more on mobile devices… However, a good first step is to think about my European vacation. Draw some parallels to their situations…
  • For example, let’s say an organization needs to train its sales force.Before their salespeople go on a sales trip, they may complete e-learning courses… in-person training… webinars… etc.However, during the trip their salespeople need just-in-time training… reference tools… performance support.
  • This webinar is focused on the low hanging fruit. We’re going to discuss ways to get started using easy strategies that are mobile, small in scope, oriented to just-in-time learning, useful, and convenient.Each of the examples we show will meet all five of these characteristics. Some of the examples we show may be somewhat obvious to some of you. We expect to prompt an eye-roll or two. However, we hope that everyone gets at least one new idea as a result of this webinar.
  • We will argue that mobile learning only requires a mobile learner, not a mobile device. In fact, our first low-hanging fruit is to start with paper.It may surprise you that an e-learning company’s first suggestion for getting started with mobile learning is to start with paper. But, there’s no reason that your first venture into mlearning needs to involve technology. Let’s review our characteristics for the low hanging fruit: mobile small just-in-time useful convenientPaper can do all of that!What’s more, the lessons you learn from generating paper-based mlearning will inform your next steps.
  • TIGHTEN UP…Let’s look at a couple of examples.Enspire created the second example for AHA. It’s a … (JAN COMPLETE)This meets most our criteria: mobile, small, just-in-time, and useful. However, it’s not terribly convenient. A nurse or doctor would have to remember to carry this job aid with them. That’s not going to happen.A slight tweak to the design fixes that. Notice the black oval at the top of the tool. That’s a hole for employees’ badge lanyards. So, they can insert this tool behind their badge and carry it with them at work. That’s a smart design of mobile learning.In fact, when we were discussing this webinar amongst ourselves, I discovered that Emily (our host for this presentation) had a similar example of mobile learning at a previous job. She worked at a hospital that listed descriptions of each code emergency (e.g. code red, code blue, etc) on a job aid that was attached to her badge. This was essential for non-clinical employees at the hospital who were not as familiar with the codes. Sure, this information could have been included in a traditional elearning module (in fact, I’ve created that very module), but would Emily have remembered it on-the-job?
  • TIGHTEN UP…If you’d created these paper-based examples of mobile learning, what lessons would you have learned?First, you would have mastered the art of trimming your content down to what is most important. Two minutes of content (http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/700/) Think about most popular mobile games… angry birds, tiny wings, etc… played in short bursts (2 minutes or less)… don’t play multi-level strategy games that take hours.Use bullets, tables, and headers so that learners can quickly choose what is important to them.In the AHA example, learners were able to scan the content thanks to G-A-S.Next, of that important content, what is needed on the job? Not complex information that requires focus… instead, reference tool Target the 5% remedial or recidivist behaviors By identifying those areas of work that are either not done right or lack compliance (i.e. people know what to do, they just don’t do it), you can achieve productivity benefits and cost efficiencies for an organization. Most organizations do the basics well most of the time. That allows you to quickly identify the areas where they need to do better. (http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/700/)How should it be implemented? Want it to be small… Want it to be convenient to carry on the job (e.g. card goes in scrubs pocket… badge sheet goes behind name badge… mobile site is bookmarked on phone… etc) Carry it around at work without any additional effort… don’t want learner to have to remember to grab X Should not be an 8.5x11 sheet of paper.
  • Once you’ve created a few paper-based tools, you will have a better grasp of the type of content that is ideal for mobile learning.The next low hanging fruit is to make your existing digital assets available to mobile devices. Everyone already has a mountain of PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents, Word documents, etc. Most of these files can already be read on smartphones such as the iphone or android devices. So, make these assets available to your employees’ mobile devices.
  • TIGHTEN UP…However, keep in mind that you may need to do some tweaking to your assets to make them usable on a mobile device.Here’s an example of a PowerPoint presentation that Enspire makes available to our salespeople. It’s a chart that describes the effectiveness of using simulations for training. When they’re on the road, they can pull this chart up for reference a few minutes before a sales call… or they can actually show it to clients.However, the font is too small… there’s an unnecessary blue bar across the top taking up space… This slide is not really optimized for mobile.
  • TIGHTEN UP…Here we’ve increased the font size, added more whitespace, and eliminated the blue bar. The slide is much more usable on a mobile device. This change took only 5 minutes, but it’s a huge difference.So, as you being pulling together your existing assets, keep an eye out for documents that may have: small font sizes too much text formatting issuesLet’s look at a few best practices…First, be sure that your foreground/background colors provide sufficient contrast. Keep in mind that learners will be viewing this content in a variety of settings. What looks good in an office environment might not be readable outside on a sunny day. Also, if color conveys meaning, be sure that it can be understood without color. In our example, it didn’t matter that the bars were blue. If it did, we’d need to find an alternate way to convey that meaning. This is true for mobile and non-mobile elearning courses.The next consideration is font size Obviously, you want to ensure that font size is large enough to be easily readable on a small device Typically, a minimum of 11pt is recommended. Not all mobile devices support all fonts. So, try to use universal fonts like Arial. Also keep in mind that some mobile devices have a limited support for font effects. So, if italics or bold carry meaning, ensure that meaning can be conveyed another way.Finally, white space is your friend! We are constantly battling the urge to fit in as much content as we can fit on a screen… but leave room for white space. White space improves usability and decreases jumble. When looking at content on a small screen, a wall of text and images can be overwhelming. Add some white space (and remove some content).
  • Hopefully the first two “low hanging fruit” have been helpful to you. Here, we’ll start getting into slightly more technical territory (though, not too technical… we promise).The third low hanging fruit is to aggregate your existing RSS content onto mobile devices… or as we call it, a learning feed. You already have a community of practice among your employees. They share similar interests, professions, skills, etc. And they’re already connecting with each other to share insights, learnings, etc. It would be nice to provide a steady stream of content to that community of practice in a mobile environment.
  • Say you’re a healthcare company. Your learners are oncology nurses. You already have blogs, social networks, journals, videos, and more that your healthcare workers would find interesting. However, your learners are not sitting in front of a computer all day. How are they supposed to keep up with all of that content?By aggregating all of that content into a single RSS feed that is mobile-friendly, your learners can keep up. We call it a “learning feed.” They could look at the feed during lunch, on break, waiting for the bus, etc.
  • Let’s look at a more specific example. Say your learners are oncology nurses. There are a variety of blogs, journals, websites, and more that you would like them to follow. To create a “learning feed”, you’re first need to know how to find an RSS feed. In short, if you visit a site and see this icon, click it to using these feeds andhttp://www.rss4medics.com/rss_directory/cancer_feeds.htmlwhile typing in feeds, point out that could do more than 4http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/rss/breastcancer.xmlhttp://www.knowcancer.com/blog/feed/http://www.eurekalert.org/rss/cancer.xmlhttp://www.youtube.com/user/OncologyReport
  • Yahoo Pipes allows you to create a large variety of web applications by pointing and clicking. We’ll turn multiple rss feeds into one “learning feed.”Here is an overview of the steps. Go to http://pipes.yahoo.comCreate a new “pipe.” A pipe is simply a new application on Yahoo Pipes.Then, add feedsAdd a “Union” that turns all the feeds into one “learning feed”Create an Output
  • The result is a “learning feed” that looks like this. As you’ll notice, updates from all four sites are included in the pipe. As new articles, video, and posts are added to the sites, they appear in one list on learners’ mobile devices.Let’s go through the steps one at a time… (start application sharing)
  • The fourth low hanging fruit is possibly the simplest to implement. Provide some practice…Your learners have completed an elearning module… referred to various mobile assets… kept up-to-date with a learning feed… Now, they need a quick opportunity to practice on-the-job, just before the skill is needed.
  • For today’s example, I’m going to demonstrate using Wordpress to create a mobile quiz. Many of you know Wordpress as a blogging tool. However, it’s increasingly used a content management system for static pages too. In fact, Enspire Learning’s website (enspire.com) is built using Wordpress.Before we demonstrate building a mobile quiz with wordpress, I’d first like to clear up one point of confusion that many wordpress users have: the difference between wordpress.org and wordpress.com. Wordpress.com is a free hosted solution. It does not allow much customization, but it’s easier to set up…Wordpress.org is the fully-customizable version of wordpress that you download and install on your own web server. Wordpress.org will do everything wordpress.com does and more (customize themes, install plugins, build a social network with buddypress, security, etc)One of those plugins – mTouch Quiz – will allow you to create mobile-formatted quizzes that are designed for touch interfaces.
  • This low-hanging fruit will require a little help from your IT department. Specifically, WP has to be installed on your web server.We’ll skip this step for today’s presentation, but if you need help, let us know.For now, let’s pick up the process just after the installation.
  • Other WPplugins:WP-Touch - http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wptouch/Buddypress – http://www.buddypress.org
  • So, those are a few ideas about how to get started with mobile learning. Your call to action is to try one of these projects. See how your learners use them… Revise and improve them. But, you don’t have to sink a ton of money and time into your first project. Hopefully, this webinar has provided some ideas. Perhaps try a paper-based project… then move on to optimizing your existing assets for mobile… then create a mobile learning feed… create a social network. Remember, try to do things that are mobile, small, just-in-time, useful, and convenient. Not only will simple projects like these provide valuable lessons on the design and development of mobile learning, they will gain buy in from your stakeholders for future projects.
  • Looking into the future, you may want to create branching conversation simulations. Here you can see a conversation sim about coaching that Enspire has created. A new manager could interact with a virtual employee just before having a real interaction with an actual employee. This gives learners some quick practice on the job. Or, you may want to create a mobile game. Here’s an example of a game that designers from our media arm, Houndstooth, is working on with Riccochet Labs and a leading game publisher. Mobile games are becoming increasingly popular with adults (how many of you play angry birds or tiny wings?) So, this format could be ideal for a variety of your learning initiatives. Finally, it could be team-based games or simulation that is played both online and offline. Here you see a leadership simulation where players sit in a room together and run a company. Each team member performs tasks based on their role (i.e. CEO, CFO, etc.) Playing this on a mobile device enables the game to straddle online and offline. The team can move around, collaborate, and work as member of an in-person team.


  • 1. Mobile Learning
    The Low Hanging Fruit
  • 2. Why Are We Here?
    25% prefer smartphone to PC
    Half of mobile users
    will be web-enabled
    By 2014, mobilewill overtake desktop
    More people own a smartphone than have a degree
  • 3. At Work Too?
    22% already doing it
    54% plan to do it
    49% will use tablets
  • 4. My Trip to France
    Before our trip:
    During our trip:
    Audio tours
    Pocket guides
  • 5. A Sales Trip
    Before the trip:
    In-person training
    During the trip:
    Just-in-time learning
    Reference tools
  • 6. The Low Hanging Fruit
    Easy strategies that are:
    Mobile (duh)
  • 7. 1. Start with paper…
  • 8. Start With Paper
  • 9. Lessons Learned from Paper
    What content is important?
    Bullets, tables, headers
    What is needed on the job?
    How should it be implemented?
  • 10. 2. Mobilize your assets…
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13. 3. Create a “learning feed”…
  • 14. Blogs
  • 15. Aggregating RSS: Example
    Breast Cancer News from Medical News Today
    Know Cancer Blog
    EurekAlert – Cancer
    Oncology Report on YouTube
    RSS in Plain English
  • 16. Yahoo Pipes
    Go to http://pipes.yahoo.com
    Create a pipe
    Add feeds with “Fetch Feed”
    Add a “Sort” function
    Filter non-unique items
    Create an Output
  • 17. Yahoo Pipes
  • 18. 4. Provide some practice…
  • 19. Wordpress
    Blogging tool, but also a CMS
    Wordpress.org vs. Wordpress.com
    WP-Touch Plugin - http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wptouch/
    mTouch Quiz Plugin - http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mtouch-quiz/
  • 20. Installing Wordpress
    Famous 5-Minute Installation
  • 21. mTouch Quiz
    Go to Plugins -> Add New
    Search for mTouch and click “Install Now”
    Activate the plugin
    In left menu bar, click mTouch Quiz -> Manage Quizzes
    Click “Create New Quiz” and complete form
    Click “Create New Question” and complete form
    Create a new page and add the shortcode: [mtouchquiz #]
  • 22. After sampling the low-hanging fruit…
  • 23.
  • 24. Question and Answer
  • 25. Are there other services besides Yahoo Pipes that can be used?
    You could program an application from scratch that aggregates multiple RSS feeds. There are multiple tutorials online that document how to do this, and it's relatively easy if you're familiar with technologies like PHP, javascript, etc. You could also use another hosted solution called Friendfeed (http://www.friendfeed.com). It enables you to aggregate RSS feeds, though with less customization than Yahoo Pipes.
  • 26. Do these pipes/feeds work for internal company intranet sites?
    Yahoo Pipes will not work with RSS feeds that are located behind your company's firewall. This is because Yahoo's servers need to be able to access your RSS feeds in order create the pipe. However, it is possible to display a learning feed created with Yahoo Pipes on your intranet site, so long as the content sources can be accessed by Yahoo.
  • 27. How did you trick Firefox into looking similar to an iPhone?
    I use the User Agent Switcher add-on: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/user-agent-switcher/.
  • 28. Does the mobile quiz example work with devices other than iPhone and Android? Does it work for Blackberry and other OS?
    mTouchQuiz and WP-Touch are plugins designed for touch interfaces (i.e. iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm OS, Samsung). While it may work on other devices, some older Blackberry browsers do not display fully-rendered websites. So, you will need to test on devices without a touch interface.
  • 29. How do you recommend pointing learners to our existing digital assets? Do we need to create a mobile site that acts as a repository?
    I would recommend creating a repository of your mobile assets. Remember, the key is to make it convenient to access these mobile learning tools. You could create a mobile site using Wordpress and the WP-Touch plugin. You could also simply create a Word document with links to each of your mobile assets and make it accessible to your learners' mobile devices. 
  • 30. Does the mobile quiz only work for Wordpress? We use Sharepoint.
    Yes, mTouch Quiz is only for Wordpress. My guess is that it is possible to create quizzes using Sharepoint, however I'm not certain how mobile-friendly Sharepoint is. 
  • 31. Are there any tools you would recommend for creating mobile websites other than Wordpress?
    If you're comfortable with HTML and CSS, I would recommend exploring jquery mobile (http://jquerymobile.com/). If you're interested in creating a mobile course, rapid development tools such as http://www.rapidintake.com are available.