Monday, January 4, 2010

mLearning Presentations using Google Docs

A RT from Tim Martin at the Elearning Guild brought my attention to a blog posting by Wesley Fryer at Stormchasers about his use of Google Presentation -- part of the free cloud-based Google Docs service -- as a means of distributing mobile learning content to his ecosystem.  Having used Google Docs for various business purposes in the past, I thought I'd give this use case another look and confirm for myself what others seemed so interesting in retweeting to the rest of the #mlearning followers.  The tweet I reviewed follows below:

Google Presentations are Mobile Phone Ready

Indeed, Google's free presentation package does make it easy to produce and deploy a simple  interactive presentation to mobile workers but there are several drawbacks to anyone considering using this functionality to send content out to enterprise mobile learners.  My quick experience and observations are as follows:

The Pros:
  1. Google Docs Presentations are easy to create and the most basic presentations can be created and deployed in a matter of minutes (provided you have a Google account -- and who doesn't these days!).  Once you've defined your slides, you can publish and distribute to your audience -- both to online users as well as (select) mobile users -- by simply distributing the URL for your presentation. 
  2. Playback of the content and rending of the images works perfectly fine.
  3. After completing a presentation, mobile users have the option of going back into Google Docs for further collaboration options as well.
The Cons:

  1. Google Doc presentations are limited to a select number of features and content types.  In general, you can create slides with text and simple images but there's no support for any sort of animations, transitions or slide builds (popular in enterprise mlearning).
  2. Google Doc presentations can't include any sort of embedded media files though embedded links are supported.  But until HTML5 gets out there and grows popular, linking people to rich media files and expecting acceptable cross-device performance is not a reality.
  3. You can't include any tests or quizzes after the mlearner completes the content as is preferred for most mlearning assignments.
  4. There's no tracking of who accessed the content and when.
  5. And, while Google Docs presentations work well on an iPhone or Android-based device, playback on virtually any BlackBerry - the current market leader for most enterprise mlearning deployments - WinMo or Symbian-based smartphone is not a workable experience at all.  [NOTE: While I didn't test it on a Palm Pre, I'd expect it works better there (similar to an Android device)].
If you'd like to view the simple, sample presentation I created on your own mobile device, click or send yourself the following URL: 

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