Saturday, December 01, 2012

Mobile Learning

Attending lectures and submitting assignments from your phone was an unthinkable idea about 10 years ago. The launch of the iPhone in 2007 started a mobile revolution that changed this perception. Nowadays phones with quad core chips with processing power that put ordinary desktop PCs to shame are available in the market. This smartphone revolution, spearheaded by the Iphone from Apple (running on the IOS platform) and Galaxy series from Samsung (running the Android platform) have swept across the globe. All major industries like Social networking, banking etc have latched on to this opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and developed mobile compatible software.  The elearning industry is no exception. Mobile elearning or Mlearning as some prefer to call, seems to be the next big thing in Elearning industry along with the tincan api (which is the next generation of Scorm).

However, in spite of so much hype, mobile elearning have failed to take off as was initially expected. A main reason for this is the fact that the small mobile screens restricts the amount of data that can be displayed at once due to the small resolutions. While video courses, especially lectures can be displayed on a mobile screen to some extend without much loss of data, complicated courses with annotations, side notes, animations, tests etc are next to impossible to be displayed on a small screen without major overhaul to the course structure. Merely reducing the resolution of the pages just makes them incomprehensible and its very difficult to provide attention to details. So the only option left is to redesign the entire course from scratch. To cater to this need some course authoring software applications have started to provide options to publish courses for mobile devices. But it will take some time before complex courses that require a high level of user interaction can be launched and taken from a mobile device as comfortably as from a PC or a Mac.

Even as the smart phone revolution was transforming the world, Apple started another mobile revolution by launching the iPad in 2010.
Owing to the resounding success of the iPad and the Galaxy tablets that followed, other manufacturers are coming forward with their own tablet versions like the Asus eepad, Google nexus tablet etc. Even Microsoft has released their own surface tablet to compete in this already crowded category. More and more tablet specific apps are being developed and released. The larger screen size and resolutions of these tablets helps in the development of more feature and content rich applications. 

Another interesting aspect is that the pre-mobile era of elearning was dominated by course content that uses Adobe flash. Due to recent developments like HTML 5, flash is falling out of favor  But this transition might take a long time than expected. Especially in the elearning industry, majority of the course content online is in flash. Also, most of course authoring tools support flash content. So an immediate switch from flash to non-flash based course content may be difficult for the users and course developers. Besides, one has to continue to support tradition desktop computers in addition to mobile devices.  

Keeping all this in mind, we have developed our own native android app. We chose the Android platform instead of the iPad since the iPad doesn't support flash. So we came to the conclusion that a flash based app will be more useful to our customers than an iPad app since they will have to switch course authoring tools and resort to IOS based tools to re-create course content in case of an iPad app. Even though we gave priority to our android app, our iPad and HTML 5 based apps are under development.

Techniq™ Mobile (Android application for Tablet PC)

Techniq Mobile is an Android application that lets end users access courses on the Techniq platform. You can purchase courses, take courses, attempt quizzes, download certificates and enjoy a whole host of features from your Android tablet. All your progress will be tracked and synced to our main system so that you can login to our web app and continue your courses from there without losing any data. 

Techniq Mobile has a simple touch screen based interface. Touch environment makes navigation easier than conventional use of keyboard and mouse or touch pad. End users can enhance productivity by taking their trainings through their tablets while commuting and continue with the courses with the web app while they are in front of their computer.

All features of Techniq University are available with a look and feel suitable to a tablet environment. With an easy system access, users can invoke and launch courses with a single touch. All course completion details, course registration details etc are synchronized seamlessly with the web app. All these features make the android app a secure, reliable and scalable solution.

Contributed by Vinod Rajendran, Vitalect Customer Support