Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Content Types - Level 6: Rich Media

Level 6: Rich Media
NOTE: This is part 7 of 7 and the conclusion of this continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

Level 6 is the final stage of the mlearning content model comprising rich-media formats such as podcasts or video, targeted firmly at the smartphone/netbook audience.  Content in either of these formats has the ability to engage, convey and capture a mobile user, and therefore the higher the production value the greater the impact the content will have.

Level 6 Content Types

The CellCast Solution supports media-based content in podcast audio and video formats.  In both cases, the CellCast Server provides a simplified Content Creation Wizard that assists in uploading and creating needed media-based content.  Typically the Content Creation Team will either source the appropriate media file, or create it from scratch using a variety of industry standard tools such as Audacity for podcasts or Apple’s Final Cut Pro for videos.  The CellCast Server then automatically processes each uploaded source file using the CellCast Transcoding Engine – an included feature/service that encodes and generates compatible media files for each of the defined mobile devices within an enterprise. This server-based process yields professional-level content conversation results by any content creator.  Typical Use Cases for Level 6 include:

Additional Considerations

Level 6 rich media content is probably the most challenging mlearning content format with respect to cost and performance.  As the file sizes are typically larger (1MB or more) even when optimized for mobile device playback, the Training team needs to weigh the cost vs. benefit of deploying over their carrier network. If the data package for end users is limited then Levels 1-5 may provide a more cost effective deployment strategy. However, in cases where capacity on your smartphone plan is measured in gigabytes per month, rich media video/audio content are an ideal choice.

Another factor to consider with Level 6 content formats is download performance vs. network availability. If the user does not have access to a 3G or Wi-Fi network, then limiting the video/audio duration and size needs to be a prime consideration when preparing your mlearning rollout strategy.

Finally, with a little foresight and planning, much of the visual, rich media-oriented learning content you plan to produce to meet Level 6 requirements can easily (and automatically) be re-factored for delivery to alternative mobile learning-capable devices, including standard media/MP3 players or Apple iPods® (audio or video), using traditional content delivery methods like real simple syndication/RSS and Apple’s iTunes® application.

Summary – Level 6

Rich media content (videos, podcasts, Flash clips on supported devices) are the most engaging and entertaining form of mobile-friendly content, but each introduces higher levels of content authoring and delivery complexity for any Training team. That said, larger organizations may already have libraries of existing rich media content that can be converted to mobile-friendly content using standard utilities found within the CellCast Server platform. Several popular 3rd party tools are available across every desktop platform to assist authors in capturing and producing high quality media content.  Training time for SMEs and administrators varies depending upon their experience and knowledge of media content production and deployment, but averages 2 to 4 days. Finally, the coordination and delivery for Level 6 assignments represent the most complex mlearning scenarios, but these challenges are largely mitigated using standard features found within the CellCast Server platform.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Content Types - Level 5: Courseware

Level 5: Content and Courseware
NOTE: This is part 6 of 7 in a continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

For most people, Level 5 content is analogous to the more traditional “online learning” or "WBT" courseware – more interactive and lengthy lesson-based or object-based learning. Until recently, this type of content, while easily accessible over the mobile web, was actually one of the most difficult types of learning to try and deploy out to a mobile device. Coupled with the myriad challenges of tiny displays, limited storage, media restrictions, cramped navigation, slow access and spotty security, mini mobile courseware attained second class status when compared to their elearning equivalents. Luckily, the explosion of the smartphone market – driven in part by the overwhelming popularity of next generation devices like the Apple iPhone®, RIM BlackBerry®, Google Android® or Windows Mobile® devices – has resulted in a viable and affordable platform that allows content developers, training departments and learning services companies to begin expanding beyond simple reference documents and page-turner modules into engaging, fully interactive courseware for mobile deployment.  The learning experience may feel “smaller” and more intimate, but the ability to package, deliver and track compelling content designed with effective pedagogical structure is truly coming of age when the proper tools, devices and methods are applied to mlearning.

Level 5 Content Types 

The CellCast Solution supports the delivery of content and courseware in both Microsoft PowerPoint® and simple as well as complex HTML formats. The ability to effectively produce and publish PowerPoint presentations -- including those with narration and animation -- out to supported mobile devices offers considerable benefits to organizations looking for a rapid content development option, and is particularly advantageous given the current volume of PowerPoint material used in both face-to-face and elearning training.  The CellCast Solution facilitates the use of animations, transitions and embedded audio in the presentations which, if used effectively, can deliver a highly engaging learning experience.  A typical Use Case for PowerPoint content might include:

The fastest growing market is data access/mobile web, with consumers being able to access the internet via their smartphone device.  As with elearning, HTML provides a platform to create content from the simplest of page-turners to a highly interactive learning experience. CellCast allows teams to create very polished, easy to read and navigate HTML modules which can include any manner of static or animated graphics, simple embedded rich media elements and all packaged via CSS-based style sheets for polished formatting.  Typical Use Cases include:


Additional Considerations

When using PowerPoint, the author/content publisher must remain cognizant of their mobile audience and should follow a structured design methodology when creating compelling yet mobile-friendly presentations. If a slide presentation is difficult to read on a standard computer monitor, it can certainly prove unreadable when viewed on a smaller mobile screen.  We highly recommend that care be taken when including any image, audio, or animation files within a mobile course given different devices handle rich media content in very different ways. Regardless of whether your mobile content is written in HTML, authored in Microsoft PowerPoint, or built in some other mobile authoring package (e.g., Hot Lava Mobile
® from OutStart or ToolBook from SumTotal), great care must be taken to optimize all content to reduce file size, thus reducing the time and expense needed to deploy these modules. 

Summary – Level 5

The level of time and effort generally increases when planning, designing and creating Level 5 mlearning content and often requires the administrator to have (or learn) new content creation skills and perhaps purchase and learn new tools/applications.  The CellCast Server includes functionality for building mobile content using a standard web browser and popular desktop applications like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.  Available third party tools can also streamline the mobile content creation process.  Training time for SMEs and administrators varies depending upon their experience and how comfortable they are learning new applications for the web, but averages 2 to 3 days.   As with Level 4 content outlined in the previous post, the coordination and delivery for all Level 5 assignments requires additional setup time, widget customization, platform integration and other data-related (e.g., access, encryption, security) services.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Content Types - Level 4: Reference

Level 4: Reference Materials & Static Content
NOTE: This is part 5 of 7 in a continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

Level 4 formats include content typically considered “reference” or supplemental material; it is not specifically learning-oriented, though it often accompanies ILT events or online learning courseware.  Reference material is also used to support traditional performance support – allowing a user to identify the appropriate action for a particular set of conditions.  Reference and performance-related material can empower an employee to perform tasks with a minimum amount of external intervention or training, and when deployed via a mobile device, in “drip-feed” format, has the potential to significantly increase information retention. 

[NOTE: All Level 4 through Level 6 mlearning content types require additional integration and infrastructure to handle the various forms of digital content being managed; review the Advanced CellCast Network Diagram for more information.]

Level 4 Content Types

The CellCast Solution supports the delivery of reference material in a variety of formats, including PDF, Text, and HTML.  Typical reference material may already exist in this mode, and therefore the CellCast Solution provides a perfect platform to repurpose that material in a mobile format.  Given the mode of delivery and the requirement to use PDF readers, web browsers and text readers, Level 4 content is more suited to a smartphone/netbook than a basic mobile handset. Typical Use Cases include:

Additional Considerations

Level 4 content types represent a cost effective means of distributing mlearning content, as the form factor is more simple (typically a one page document or search-based delivery) and the effort required to create and deploy the content to a mobile device is minimal. This is an ideal format for organizations creating large volumes of content for their employees to access remotely.

In addition to the cost benefits, the low file sizes can reduce the costs to access and download content files, maintain system performance efficiencies, and ensure a positive user experience.

Summary – Level 4

All Level 4 (and above) mlearning content requires a smartphone device or netbook computer and this fact alone adds costs for most organizations, although an accelerated ROI for these existing smartphone and netbook device purchases can easily be realized by doing more with these devices than just accessing email!  Much of the Level 4 content is actually easy to prepare (or convert) from existing source materials (e.g., text files, PDF documents, images) and doesn’t require much time or effort.  Administrator training to learn to prepare and convert these materials averages 4 to 8 hours.  Coordination and delivery for all Level 4 (and above) assignments requires additional setup time, widget customization, platform integration and other data-related (e.g., access, encryption, security) services.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Content Types - Level 3: Voice

Level 3: Voice-based Content and Assessments
NOTE: This is part 4 of 7 in a continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

Level 3 extends the mobile learning experience by providing users with anytime/anywhere access to audio-based content without needing a smartphone device or standard MP3/iPod-style media player. This makes it possible to deliver just-in-time information, training materials, data collection tools and performance support mechanisms to mobile workers using the tool virtually everyone already has in their pocket or purse – a voice-enabled mobile phone.

Any mobile worker equipped with a cellphone (or even fixed-line telephone) can receive scheduled (“pushed”) audio content from the CellCast Server (their phone rings and they answer the call to hear their most current assignment), or they can initiate a call from their cellphone (“pulled”) to access audio learning assignments and training updates whenever they have time to learn (by placing a call to the CellCast Server directly or through an embedded link found in an email or SMS message). To help measure understanding and knowledge retention, voice-based CellCasts Sessions can include spoken word assessments (e.g., tests, quizzes, surveys), allowing managers and administrators to determine who is merely listening and who is actually learning.

The CellCast Solution platform contains a highly unique set of audio content creation and deployment features not found in any other enterprise learning platform that bridge the previously separate cellular voice network with the Internet data network. This allows organizations to extend the reach of training content typically only accessible via a network-connected computer or data-enabled smartphone to anyone with a phone capable of making and/or receiving a voice call.  As shown in Exhibit 1 on the next page, administrators create content from a variety of audio formats including voice recordings, music files and podcasts and then upload them to a secure, hosted CellCast Server where they are packaged and deployed to mobile learners.

Level 3 Content Types

The content options available at Level 3 span from spoken word content to episodic training modules and just-in-time updates, and even include community-generated content created by mobile workers and managers.  Level 3 content is also generally fast, easy and economical to produce and deploy, requiring fewer resources without sacrificing impact or quality. 

Typical Use Cases for voice-based mLearning content include:

Network Architecture for Voice-based Content

Content creation and access over voice networks, both wired and wireless, is actually quite easy.  In fact, as the Use Cases above suggest, this form of content delivery is as simple as someone making or taking a phone call from a colleague or friend.  On the other hand, the technical complexities of packaging and delivering that content is a little more involved and requires a seamlessly integrated end-to-end architecture.  OnPoint has spent more than 4 years creating and refining a highly specialized digital voice server that handles all in-coming and out-going voice calls and accepts these connections from either the mobile or standard voice networks (view Network Architecture Diagram). 

Separate connection points to the global SMS/messaging network as well as integration into an organization's private VOIP voice networks have also been provisioned to allow fast and easy access to all mobile workers across an enterprise.  Finally, specialized accounting and billing services ensuring accurate attribution and collection for all related transational services. 

Additional Considerations

All voice-based CellCasts require the provisioning of digital (or analog) voice phone circuits used to connect the in-bound caller or outbound server to the mobile learner.  The costs for configuring and deploying these phone lines can vary greatly depending on the location (country) and carrier(s) used by an organization.

Summary – Level 3

Because all Level 3 mlearning content is audio-based, extra media production time and effort are required by the administrator and additional tools/applications may need to be purchased and learned before high quality content can be generated.  Administrator training time to a level of proficiency is typically 1 to 2 days (depending on experience).  Content delivery also requires additional setup time, platform integration and other digital services including dedicated voice circuits to connect callers with the CellCast Server.  The incremental costs for these additional services as well as applicable transactional fees (billed by the connected minute) are directly proportional to the number of CellCast calls deployed that are accessed and connected.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Content Types - Level 2: SMS Campaigns

Level 2: Interactive Messaging
NOTE: This is part 3 of 7 in a continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

Level 2 mLearning content broadens the core messaging capabilities found at Level 1 and enables two-way messaging campaigns to support additional mobile use cases such as mobile testing and surveys, basic data collection and even mobile entertainment. 

Standard Level 2 Content Types and Methods

The most common use case for interactive messaging functionality in mlearning is the delivery of mobile surveys and tests via SMS.  A two-way campaign can either be launched via a direct call-to-action message (email or SMS) delivered directly to each registered mobile learner, or initiated by any mobile learner sending a predefined keyword to a server using a Common Short Code or Long Code (country and carrier-dependent); think of a Short Code or Long Code as a specialized and approved phone number that’s used as the delivery address for these messages. In either case, once the CellCast Server receives a texted keyword from a registered user account – specifically the user’s phone number as embedded in their SMS message – the interactive message campaign is automatically launched and sends the first question in the series to the recipient.  The server then awaits transmission of an expected response from that user which is recorded into the CellCast database when received, and then triggers the delivery of the next question in the series. This process continues until all defined questions have been delivered and responded to.  The supported question types for two-way interactive messaging campaigns include True/False, Choice/Single Answer, Likert/Scale, Numeric Response and Short Answer/Essay.

To clarify how the process works, consider the following interactive messaging Use Case:

Additional Considerations

All two-way messaging campaigns require a carrier-approved Long Code or Common Short Code ("CSC") as a fixed/known “address” to send and receive text messages. CSC's can be "rented" from various providers for a fee (transactional use or fixed price) and organizations can lease the own private CSC in the United States for a fee of US$500 to $1,000 per month.  Outside the US, different countries/carriers may provide support for either Long Codes or Common Short Codes depending on regulatory requirements. Long Codes tend to be much cheaper and far easier to attain than Common Short Codes. 

Once you’ve obtained access to the appropriate Code, every message managed as part of a two-way interaction is fee-based whether it is regarded as Mobile Terminated/MT (server sent to mobile) or Mobile Originated/MO (mobile sent back to server).  Associated transactional costs range in price from US$0.025 to US$0.05 depending on the country and the carrier.

Summary – Level 2

Two-way text messages are relatively easy to define, generate, deliver and track, although the administrator needs additional training (4-6 hours) and systems knowledge to learn how to design, assign and track messaging campaigns and assessments.  The marginal costs to send these messages are also a bit higher due to the fact that all Level 2 interactions use fee-based SMS messages and each question asked and answered requires two physical messages to be generated and handled inbound and outbound.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Content Types - Level 1: Messages

Level 1: Alerts and Notifications

NOTE: This is part 2 of 7 in a continuing series; please see earlier posts for more background information.

The simplest form of mlearning content delivery is via one-way/inbound electronic message and there are two popular options available: short message service (also known as “SMS” or “text messages”) and electronic mail (“email”).  The majority of all cellphones support SMS, provided the user has a ‘texting plan” from their carrier. Up to 140-character “texts” sent via this method are actually considered “high value” content by the recipient and are normally read/responded to faster than any other form of mobile communiqué.  Smartphones with “data plans” also have the ability to send and receive email messages; in fact, mobile email access is the primary business driver and ROI justification for most organizations seeking to provide smartphones to their mobile workforce and executives.

Level 1 Content Types

All the options here are simple yet powerful. The CellCast Solution platform provides the ability to generate and send timely market updates (“Acme’s new Olympus Product will be available for customer delivery on April1st.”) and friendly reminders (“Don’t forget to attend Sales Training Webinar for the new Olympus Product Tues at 2PM.”) directly to mobile learners via their ever-present mobile devices is an obvious use of this functionality by a Training Team but a plethora of other uses are possible as follows:

Triggered Notifications and Reminders

Administrators can define and manage sophisticated notification templates that automatically generate and send personalized SMS or email messages based on pre-defined business rules and conditions.  For instance, an SMS can be sent to a mobile learner asking them to confirm their understanding of a current policy or procedure, or reminding them to complete an important assignment (see Figures 1-2 below).  If that user’s status is still marked as “not attempted” or “incomplete” the next day, triggered reminders can be automatically generated and sent to the learner until that specific assignment has been marked as “completed”.

Organizational Results and Escalations

An additional benefit of a Trigger-based Notification platform is the ability for the system to generate and send out important status updates to managers, supervisors and other affiliated parties based on predefined business rules.  For example, if a manager has twenty direct reports who all need to complete their annual Safety Compliance certifications by the end of the current calendar month, they can likely benefit from an email message outlining which of their subordinates has yet to complete their mandatory training (see Figures 3-4 below).

Scheduled Learning Content (2 Types)

Training teams can plan, schedule and deliver message-based content to mobile learners using the Notification Series feature of the CellCast Solution platform.  The two most common uses for this feature are learning reinforcement and serialized content delivery.

Type 1: Learning Reinforcement. According to industry professionals, most people forget as much as 80% of the new concepts/policies they learned while attending an instructor-led training session or completing an online course within 30 days of completing that training.  To help keep new concepts fresh and top-of-mind, Training teams can define and manage message-based reinforcements sent out at predetermined time intervals, say every Friday at 2 PM, to a salesperson’s email account or mobile device (see Figures 5-6 below).

Type 2: Serialized Content Delivery. CellCast’s Notification Series feature can be used to package and deliver regularly scheduled message-based learning content as part of a serialized training campaign. Common examples are “Sales Tip of the Day,” “New Product of the Week,” and “English Phrase of the Day” campaigns. In each case, subscribers can opt-in to receive relevant content on their mobile device and messages can be either plain text or can include web links to launch other media-based content as desired (see Figures 7-9).

Additional Considerations

Most Level 1 Alerts and Notification use cases are either very low cost or free. The Notifications feature of the CellCast Solution platform is a standard function.  However, when sending SMS messages, a nominal transaction fee of US$0.03-.05 is assessed for each message generated/delivered due to the fact all SMS messages must be sent directly through the carrier or an approved SMS aggregator. There are no transaction fees to send electronic mail messages to any CellCast user, and these messages can contain either plain text or rich media elements as defined by the Training team.

Summary – Level 1

One-way text messages and emails are easy to design, generate and send, requiring minor preparation and less than 30 minutes training for the average administrator.  The marginal costs to send these messages are also low–emails are free, and text message delivery carries a nominal transactional fee for each SMS sent both to the originator and the recipient.

mLearning Content Types - Overview & Intro

To assist regular readers of this site in better understanding what's possible in the mobile learning space, the next seven posts will all be part of a series exploring the various mLearning content types and delivery methods we are seeing in the enterprise space. We hope these posts prove informative as well as instructional and we plan to include illustrative examples to better "tell the story" of what's possible and practical. We'll begin today with the first two posts including an series introduction followed by a exploration of simple message-based content.


mLearning Content Types & Delivery Modalities- Series Intro

There are three classes of mobile devices – basic cell phones, advanced smartphones, and ultra-portable netbook computers – and these devices vary greatly in the type of content they can receive and display. To better understand the array of content that can be authored and delivered to these three classes of devices, the Mobile Learning Content Delivery Model (Table 1 below) outlines six unique types of mobile-friendly content typically deployed to mobile learners, spanning simple message-based notifications and alerts accessible by anyone at Level 1, to highly engaging on-device or streaming media services only accessible via smartphones and netbooks at Level 6.

As shown in Table 1 below, mlearning content at Levels 1 - 3 works with any mobile phone (basic or smartphone) while mlearning content from Levels 4 - 6 requires a smartphone or netbook device and wired/wireless data service. There are also stark differences in the time, effort and expense required to create and deliver mlearning content at each of these levels (with some interesting surprises too).

Obviously, if your environment has 100% smartphones and/or netbooks, you can feel confident that all content types discussed herein can be supported. However, if your audience includes a mix of device types including basic cellphones, you’ll need to consider what type of content you will be able to deliver for each class of device to be supported. There is no “one size fits all” solution in the mobile content arena.

In the next post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the six levels to better understand how each contributes to a well-conceived overall mobile delivery strategy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

mLearning Testing Tools & Methods

As active practitioners and consultants for enterprise mobile learning initiatives, a frequent question we get asked is “What kinds of tools can you recommend to help us test our mLearning content before we release it to our mobile workers?”  It is a great high level question and the answer is both complicated and multifaceted as each deployment environment comes with its own unique requirements that inject their own set of delivery complexities.  If you’re fortunate enough to have a highly structured and standardized delivery environment where everyone has the same BlackBerry Bold/9000 wireless handheld or your users have two or three different brands of Windows Mobile devices, your testing efforts can prove to be straight forward.  But the bigger your audience is, the greater your challenge can become.  And this may mean that full and comprehensive testing can take you as long as the content authoring effort itself – at least for simple content!

Building & Testing for a Broad Audience

Depending on the “device diversity” of your environment, you may need to create mLearning content for a wide audience who carry an even broader range of mobile devices ranging from basic feature phones to a selection of today’s hottest smartphone devices; in order to do so, you’re going to need to get your hands dirty too.  More to the point, you’ll need to test and verify the functionality, effectiveness and overall user experience of mobile learning content by trying it yourself on real devices under real world conditions whenever possible.  And if you want to ensure the best possible experience for every class of mobile learner, you’ll need to build a collection of working mobile devices, simulators/emulators and testing tools to span the potential reach of your target audience.  Leave “no stone unturned” by testing the full end-to-end experience from distribution/delivery to installation/loading to access/playback to reporting/analysis.  We commonly see teams making assumptions that because something worked fine on one device – even one from the same device OEM – it should work on others and that’s not always the case.  These variations are often the result of myriad factors like different processor speeds, available device memory, device OS versions, encryption settings, etc.

From our experience, there’s no 100% substitute for actually using a physical, operational handset to perform all your testing but this method may not be practical and/or affordable for some teams/content developers.  On the good news front, the longer you’ve been in the mobile learning field, the more likely you are to have an expanding office drawer full of recently retired but still functional mobile devices; all they generally lack is a SIM card module to activate them on a particular carrier network and anyone with a little skill and patience can quickly get comfortable “swapping cards” from one device to another to perform their structured testing protocol (it’s always a good idea to develop one) for any new mobile learning course they plan to deploy. 

Those teams that don’t have full device drawers or enough representative physical devices can also try using available device simulators and emulators  which can generally be downloaded (for free!) from the device manufacturer’s support site or other common web locations.  The price is right but, remember, the experience will not the exactly the same as the real thing especially where possible concerns about access security, content encryption and download speeds are concerned given simulated phones attached to broadband Internet connections are not a perfect equivalent.  After many years of using available simulators and emulators, we’re now comfortable and quite familiar with where they work and where they don’t too; they can certainly be used for most of your initial testing and content verification exercises.  Finally, the best simulators/emulators are from the device OEMs themselves including RIM/BlackBerry, Google/Android, Nokia/Symbian and Microsoft/WinMo.  If your team is developing native Apple iPhone and iPod touch applications, a fully functional simulator can also be accessed using Apple’s Xcode IDE too.  Don’t forget your testing environment may also need to be expanded to include appropriate devices for testing 1-way and 2-way SMS messaging across multiple carriers as well as voice/IVR-delivered services on entry level phones.   Finally, it may also be practical to have a few other non-phone mobile devices on hand like a Netbook computer or an Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (“UMPC”) to test content delivery to alternative mobile devices wherever appropriate.

The image below is of my office desk and it presents several of the devices and tools we keep on-hand to ensure that all mobile content prepared for wide distribution works as intended across the broadest array of smartphones (old and new), basic feature phones, netbook computers, specialized ultra-mobile personal computers (“UMPCs”) and even spanning carriers and wireless delivery methods (GSM vs. CDMA).   This picture demonstrates how we use a combination of both virtual and physical devices and we’ve certainly learned from experience that there are minor yet myriad differences between a real and simulated playback experience – in short, the only 100% verification test must be performed under the same target delivery conditions using a physical device across an actual wireless network. 

So, what’s in your drawer? My physical mobile devices and virtual tools for testing include:

a. Windows-based RIM BlackBerry Simulators (for all devices & carrier-specific) – we have about 10 of these we use regularly.
b. Mac-based Apple Xcode-based Simulator (for all iPhone & iPod touch device for testing apps)
c. Android G1 and G2 Emulators (for all 1.x, 2.x devices)
d. Windows Mobile Emulator (for WinMo 5, 6 and 7 using VMware Windows partition)
e. Nokia Symbian/S60 Sims (using VMware Windows partition)
f. Windows -based Netbook (for Netbook applet testing); we also have an Android Netbook
g. Sony basic feature phone (for voice and SMS testing on T-Mobile)
h. RIM BlackBerry 9000 smartphone (media support and encryption on ATT)
i. RIM BlackBerry 8703 smartphone (limited media support)
j. Vulcan Flipstart Windows-based UMPC device (1024 x 768 display)
k. RIM BlackBerry Storm2 (full media support and encryption on Verizon)
l. Nokia 5800 smartphone (Symbian 60/v5 testing on ATT)
m. Android G1 smartphone (on T-Mobile)
n. Jitterbug basic feature phone (voice/IVR and SMS testing on MNVO)
o. OQO Windows-based UMPC device (800 x 480 display)
p. Apple iPhone 3G (on ATT)
q. RIM BlackBerry 8310 Curve (no Wi-Fi, no encryption on ATT)
r. RIM BlackBerry 8330 Curve (with Wi-Fi, unlocked for GSM carriers)
s. RIM BlackBerry 7210 phone (very limited media support)
t. RIM BlackBerry 8800 World smartphone (on ATT) 

Next time I’ll explore some of the fee-based mobile testing solutions and alternative platforms you can consider instead of investing in all the physical devices and long-term carrier contracts required to replicate our current methods.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Picking the "Right" Smartphone for mLearning

In our role of assisting customers and partners with planning and deploying successful mobile project projects, one of the key requirements every team wrestles with is where they need to "set the bar" when determining the target mobile devices they'll need to reach and support.  If the mobile audience is well defined, say the sales team and everyone has one of two different BlackBerry wireless handhelds configured the same and using the same carrier, your set of challenges is defined and well contained.  But if you're planning to support a broader audience where every mobile user picks their own devices for their own personal reasons, your set of challenges grows wide and varied.

The reason is simple: mobile devices -- especially smartphones -- were not created equal (or under the same rules or conditions). 

Everyone talks about how smartphones are really "pocket computers" -- and to some extent they are -- but the reality is some of the older mobile devices are not as capable as the vendors lead you to believe.  If we employ a computer laptop analogy, some mobile devices still in active service are more akin to an early Osborne 1 luggable portable PC (circa 1981) than they are to a sleek and powerful modern Dell Precision laptop or Apple Macbook Pro.

Generally, older data-enable mobile phones have smaller screens, less storage capacity, slower processors and operate on slower 2G networks. They also probably lack Wi-Fi and have web browsers that make Internet Explorer ver 5.0 seem advanced. 

Another set of challenges inherent with enterprise mlearning stems from the fact that teams want to prepare, distribute and track the kinds of compelling, informative and visually interesting content their users want/demand but they also need to ensure the content is still easy to create, distribute and secure when deployed out to the audience.  Older, less capable devices generally don't provide the ideal access and playback experience enterprise workers expect.  For example, a short 3-minute video sales presentation or marketing update that must to be encrypted and secured when stored on a standard BlackBerry Pearl smartphone can take as long as 45 seconds to unencrypt and launch on that older smartphone versus less than 3 seconds on a newer BlackBerry Bold, Tour or Storm2 device.

A broader challenge is derived from the fact most project teams are new to mobile learning and while experienced and uncomfortable creating, publishing and deploying content in the "e"-learning space, they have limited or no experience performing these same tasks in the "m"-learning space where their many lessons learned don't always transpose well into mobile content planning, authoring and distribution.  Moreover, mlearning content that seems to work well on one class of mobile device, say an Apple iPhone 3GS, may not work well or even at all on other popular smartphones like the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8300 -- the most popular device deployed throughout the corporate market to mobile workers.

With the many 100s of smartphone devices out there that seem like they'd work for mlearning delivery, where does someone start in making their selections when drawing their "line in the sand"?   From our experience, we'd offer the following list of "Highly Recommended versus Minimum Recommended" smartphones for mobile learning content access, delivery and security.   

Highly Recommended Devices” include:

Devices:                      Reasons:
Android G1, G2*, Nexus One*   High-res screen, Wi-Fi, media support + encryption
Apple iPhone
*, iPod Touch        High-res screen, Wi-Fi, media support + encryption
BlackBerry Bold 9000
*, 9700*   High-res screen, Wi-Fi, media support + strong encryption
BlackBerry Storm/Storm2
*        Large screens/best BB display, Storm2 preferred with Wi-Fi
BlackBerry Curve 8900
*            High-res screen, Wi-Fi, media support + strong encryption
BlackBerry Tour 96xx                 High-res screen, media support but NO Wi-Fi!
BlackBerry Curve 8520              Acceptable display/performance but bottom of the BB devices
Nokia Symbian/S60 Rel 5          High-end Nx, Ex Series devices, good browse + media
Windows Mobile v6.1 or 6.5       High-res screen, Wi-Fi, media support w/ touch UI interface

Minimum Recommended Devices” include:

Device:                        Reasons:
BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220        Faster processor but small display and no Wi-Fi
BlackBerry Pearl 81xx               Slow processor, tiny screen, no Wi-Fi, slow media playback
BlackBerry Curve 8310-8330    Same as above
BlackBerry World 88xx              Same as above

Palm Pre, Palm Pixi                  Fast, running WebOS, great browsers, Wi-Fi but no Apps
Nokia Symbian S60 Rel 3         Lower end devices but margin media and browser support.
Windows Mobile v5.0 or 6.0      High-res screens but lack of functionality + no touch screens

* = preferred devices for pilots or POCs

If you're interested, I also recommend you check out our Mobile Device Comparison Matrix that helps provide a detailed side-by-side analysis of the more popular mobile devices and what's possible when trying to use them for your mobile learning projects.

As always, your own personal insights and feedback are appreciated.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Media Encoding Tools for Mobile Learning

My friend and colleague Brent Schlenker posted a Tweet yesterday that both caught my attention and also quickly made the rounds through the SoMe ecosystem which read:

Making Video Encoding Easy and Affordable with This is VERY cool! #mlearning #elearning

 The offering cited in the post is for a new cloud-based application/service called from a company of the same name. Their mission, as stated on their corporate web site, is as follows:

"Until we launched in the summer of 2008, video platform operators had two choices: inflexible encoding software or expensive hardware encoding appliances. Now, there's a third and better option — encoding in “the cloud” wrapped within an “on demand, pay as you go” delivery model... Site operators can now focus on content and the user experience while allowing us to ensure that content is available to all users on the most popular Internet and mobile devices."

As a techie actively involved in mlearning content production every day - much of that media-based - I can fully appreciate the benefit this sort of service can offer mlearning content producers and practitioners. In fact, we've spent over 2 years working to develop an efficient  way to streamline all of the necessary media conversion processes and business work flows our mobile customers/partners face prepping and deploying content both to the web and out to mobile devices.  As anyone who works in an environment where "device diversity" is a challenge (where you've got RIM BlackBerrys, Apple iPhones, Android phones, Windows Mobile, Symbian-based smartphones, netbooks, whatever!), a video format that's ideal for one device is likely not ideal for others in your population, and even older devices from the same company (e.g., RIM) may not play (or prefer) the same encoded media files as their newer siblings.

Brent's post piqued my interest and so I decided to do more than just RT the same news to the same people and see what this new service had to offer.  Here's my quick take.

The Pros
  1. This software-as-a-service application is well conceived and polished.  It uses an installed "desktop client" (though PC only) to help you organize your files for conversion and nicely packages, delivers and manages secure file uploads and downloads for your media.
  2. Customers can select/utilize a set of predefined conversion templates that make it easy to "transcode" a master/source file from one format into a variety of different output formats.  Or they can change/edit these core templates to meet their own specifications.
  3. Uploaded files are processed and returned back to the producer's desktop computer where they can then be prepared for deployment out to the web or destination mobile devices.
  4. Pricing for the service can be handled via a monthly plan or can also be usage-based. 
The Cons:
  1. This sort of cloud-based offering is ideal for single authors but not necessarily great for content creation teams.
  2. The predefined encoding templates don't offer as many options as some of the other higher end offerings.  And actions like automatic insertion of DRM information isn't possible and will need to be added manually after the fact if required. 
  3. While the output files are nicely delivered back to your computer, most of them will need to be uploaded back into the cloud for distribution to your web site, LMS or mobile devices. Given decent looking videos for mobile devices can run from 1-2MB/minute, producing long form videos in multiple formats will result in lots of content shuttling.  In comparison, an enterprise transcoding process (like the one we have integrated into our CellCast Solution platform) will automatically post the output files onto the destination servers and can even streamline your efforts to package your new media files for automatic distribution to all your target mobile devices.
  4. While the pricing options are generally fairly reasonable, the cost of a mid-level to professional media encoding software suite -- which you can also configure to run in your own cloud -- is probably cheaper and can serve a bigger production team.  
Bottom line: As an enterprise mlearning platform provider, our requirements differ from those of most T&D teams just starting to get their feet wet in the mobile space.  However, I do think this is an innovative and novel approach for encoding media files.  And as mobile devices get more capable, the appetite of your mobile learners for compelling content that's professionally encoded for their devices will surely increase. And thanks to Brent for bringing it to my attention too!

A Big Week for Smartphones

Everyone involved in mlearning -- from the learners themselves to the good folks designing and creating the content -- is set to benefit from the flood of positive news and announcements this week coming from both device OEMs and the wireless carriers. 

The net result: faster, cheaper and more capable devices as more easily adopted by mobile learners and enterprise workers and, when so equipped, they will help drive demand for more and better mobile learning.

Here are a few of the key announcements this week and my take on the overall impact we might expect:
  1. Google's Nexus One Device Smartphone Announced. The Android movement takes another step leap! down the path with the introduction of a top shelf smartphone designed by and sold direct to market (at US$529 unlocked).  Yes, you can still get a carrier subsidized device if you want (T-Mobile offers it now with Verizon and Vodafone slated to come onboard this Spring), but these mobile powerhouses are designed to work with any carrier network and boast an impressive array of features including a super fast 1GHz processor, the best display yet on a phone (480x800), and voice-enabled access to virtually ever device feature (including email, twitter, etc.).  Running Android v2.1 (no cute baked good name this time around like "Cupcake" or "Donut" or "Eclarie" this time), these new devices will soon sport the new Adobe 10.1 Flash Player as well adding another viable mlearning content type to the mix for these well-equipped learners. If you want to read a nice summary about the device, here's a link to a Tim O'Reilly posting I received today (courtesy of Tom Stone over at ElementK) that highlights the cool features and compares/contrasts the latest round of Android versus iPhone.  
  2. AT&T Adds Android & WebOS Devices.  AT&T is set to expand their smartphone stable by announcing the coming availability of new Android and Palm WebOS-based devices later this Spring.  In the case of Android, they are planning to release devices from Motorola, HTC and Dell (rolling out their first non-Chinese smartphone).  We can only assume the Palm devices will be the Pre and Pixi or some as yet unannounced varient.  With these additions in place, "Ma Bell" will now have support for virtually every major smartphone device under one roof and key enterprise accounts may start to move to diversify their mobile device portfolios meaning the days of "BlackBerry Only" for mobile workers is nigh.
  3. Apple's Tablet Emminent Debut.  Finally, many of us sit in rapt anticipation for Apple's upcomg iSlate/Tablet announcement later this month, rumored to not only have built-in Wi-Fi but possibily having wireless data capabilities too. Several vendors at this week's CES in Las Vegas have already announced or previewed their own tablet offerings and virtually any of these devices will prove compelling mobile learning platforms in the right environments. 
Given we're only six days into the New Year and new decade, I think we're about to reach a Tipping Point (thanks Malcolm Gladwell) in the enterprise mlearning space as highly capable, affordable and compelling hardware running on virtually any network gets combined with heightened levels of market demand, learner interest along with a proven set of flexible and capable authoring tools and platforms.  And after 6+ years of playing in the space, I'm pleased to finally witness the sea change too.

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: 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My "Top Ten List" for Mobile Learning News in 2009

I was recently asked by one of our strategic partners to offer my "Top Ten List" of the most significant events (e.g., new stories, technical advances, market trends) that shaped the "mlearning marketplace" in 2009. It was actually a great question and I enjoyed pondering and preparing my responses to that question (as offered below). Given the constant and oftentimes harsh distractions 2009 dealt us all in terms of budget cuts, canceled/postponed projects, long decision cycles, there was actually a lot of positive news and both technical and market innovations to make 2009 an outstanding year in the maturity of mobile learning. IMO, many things happened in '09 that position us all to start benefiting more from the promise and potential of mobile learning as a way to really drive organizational performance, improve operational readiness, and simply make anytime/anywhere learning more interesting, practical and affordable too.

So, in no particular order of importance, here's my "Top Ten List" of mlearning highlights and milestones and look forward to seeing other lists and sharing comments. 

1. Market Activity/Consolidations. RIM bought Chalk for their mobile Chalkboard offering. This certainly helped establish a strong market value for platform-based mobile learning solutions and generated market interest/demand for all mlearning vendors. In my opinion, this was the biggest news of 2009 for everyone involved in the enterprise mlearning space.  In addition, longtime mobile learning tool provider Hot Lava Software was purchased by LCMS platform provider Outstart and interest in their combined offerings was well received. As they say, the rising tide lifts all ships.

2.  Market Activity/Consolidations #2Blackboard enters mlearning market by purchasing Terriblyclever Design, LLC, makers of MobilEdu(TM), for around $4M. The 2-year old company had modest sales but a growing collection of interesting higher-ed customers (including Stanford U, Texas A&M and Duke) and since the acquisition 6 months ago, has come to market with a new consolidated offering (called Blackboard Mobile) which is now one of centerpieces of Blackboard’s overall solution offering (and currently occupying the main screen on Blackboard’s corporate web site). Blackboard also just introduced a BlackBerry application to work alongside their current Apple iPhone offerings. IMO, the price and focus paid by an established LMS platform vendor are significant.

 3. Cheap but Capable Devices.  An Apple iPhone 3G can now be purchased new for US$99 (plus data plan of course) – this sets the price bar at an approachable level for virtually anyone who wants a smartphone and other vendors must cover Apple's bet here too.  Virtually all of top-shelf models from Apple, RIM, Motorola, HTC, Palm and others (save Nokia here in the USA) are available (subsidized via a 2-year plan) for around US$200.  While market research may indicate otherwise (see #4 below), I believe the rate of smartphone adoption for enterprise mobile learners is growing much faster than the smartphone market in general.  

4. Compelling Market Research.  A recent Gartner Group report highlighted mobile device trends and included some compelling news on Android’s 3-year growth projections wherein Android will start to gain on Apple while also taking market share away from current leaders Nokia and RIM.  These trends will help ensure a very complex and hybrid device ecosystem will emerge within the enterprise mlearning market that will have an effect on mlearning content creation and delivery. In short, the landscape is getting more complex, not less complex and true mobile learning solutions will need to help mitigate all these factors. Add in the recent Morgan Stanley analysis on the growth of the mobile Internet and all the right trends seem to be lining up!

In a related matter, the release of some many different Android-based phones this quarter will change the device landscape starting in 1H 2010; the early indicator is the fact that Motorola has now sold 1M Droid devices in less than 6 weeks into the USA market where iPhones and BBs and WinMos already abound. To throw some perspective in, analysts estimate that Apple will sell around 10M new iPhones this quarter (after delivering 7M in Q3); both are significant in their own right.

5. Flash Support Arrives for Mobile.  The announcement of the coming availability of Adobe's Flash Player v10.1 supporting all most major device platforms (save Apple iPhone) will provide improved ways to create and deliver mlearning content to advanced smartphones. That said, I still don’t believe this is the panacea many others think it is as Flash content will only work WELL on a select number of higher end phones and offers limited support for interactivity on most devices (e.g., all BlackBerrys except the Storm/Storm2 series devices probably can’t use their pointing devices to accomplish complex interactions).

6. Pricing for Smartphone Data Plans Decrease . The monthly price people need to pay for their data plans and messaging plans here in the USA and Canada is failing and "all you can eat" plans are becoming more popular (how truly American - we're gluttons at both the buffet and while communicating aren't we!). More people with data-enabled devices will drive demand.

7. Mobile Meets Social & They Fall In Love.  The marriage of social tools and mobile devices is getting better and better; this trend is accelerating and will drive demand for a new class of mobile learning tools and applications/platform extensions. Our company sees user-generated content as a true business driver beginning in Q1 2010 and this will make the mobile learning application suite “sticky” and help drive mobile learners to use their devices more and more resulting in a situation where they’ll be more inclined to consume content they’ve been assigned by their managers or generate by their peers (or customers or partners).

8. Mobile Starts to Make (Mean) Money. Technologies like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (and the companies behind them) are starting to really explode and make $$$ for the first time. And a key trend for 2010 seems to be enterprise-aware social networking tools. SMS in general is still gaining tremendous traction; as an example, I’ve recently started hearing and seeing adds on TV or the radio where the “call to action” isn’t “go to to learn more” but is now presented as “Text ‘tellmemore’ to 77777 to sign up for more information about XXX!”.

More to the point here, our company finally started bidding, winning and delivering projects in the mobile learning space that generated the same or higher contributions (revenues/profits) as similarly sized online/desktop elearning engagements. Real customers prove there's finally a market for mlearning platforms and tools, custom content development and related value added services. This fact will drive other previously passive/sidelined vendors into the "mobile pool" as they look for ways to stem the tide and stop losing deals to next generation competitors who can already deliver on mobile learning's promise.  

9. Increased Levels of Interest from Learning Industry Colleagues. Judy Brown’s ( first 7:15 AM "Mobile Learning Breakfast Byte" session at last year's DevLearn Conference in San Jose, CA was attended by 60+ people this year – that’s up 52 people from 3 years ago the first time I went to DevLearn. The 2009 DevLearn event also had a widest variety of mobile learning sessions and speakers of any general audience learning conference to date indicating the trends towards not only understanding but adoption are accelerating.

10.  More mLearning Books are Being Published. Several books on or covering Mobile Learning are all due out in Spring 2010 including commissioned efforts from Gary Woodill (Brandon Hall), Clark Quinn (Quinnovation) and Jeanne Meister (New Learning Playbook) and we're hoping to contribute something to all of these (e.g., case studies, insights). OnPoint also co-wrote a chapter for the upcoming ASTD book on new technologies on the ROI of mobile learning solutions. If the publishers are preparing now for the next year, the trend is growing for sure.

Looking forward to comments and reading other Top Ten lists too!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My mLearning Predictions for 2010

After many years of sitting on the sidelines and reading the postings of others, I've decided to enter 2010 with this new mLearning Trends blog where I can post my own scattered thoughts and musing about all things "mobile learning" and begin sharing my own experiences in the design, development, deployment and support of mlearning solutions for the enterprise. While I'm quite familiar with where mobile has come in the educational space, and our experiences have some nice overlap, the reality is our "world view" is very focused on how businesses seek to leverage mobile technologies to educate, inform and connect their workers, partners and extended business ecosystems. In short, we think about what managers and management need to do, not what teachers and administrators are trying to accomplish. So, these pages and all future posts will likely stay in that vein.

After 6+ years of experience working on more than 100 different projects, pilots and proof-of-concept efforts in the mlearning space, we've got insights aplenty to offer here and I'm convinced the benefits to sharing these experiences will easily be reciprocated through a continuing and open exchange of ideas, tips and strategies for all. I'll start things off by offerings my own list of mobile learning-related predictions for 2010. As we reflect on the "ups & downs" of the year just passed and catch our breath before beginning anew, some interesting trends seem to await us in this New Year and their immediate and lasting affects are likely soon to be realized.

By virtually anyone's take, 2009 was a challenging year for all and especially so wherever new technologies and IT budgets/spending were concerned. And mobile learning is still in its infancy where both mass market acceptance and adoption are concerned. After years of false starts and miscues, market acceptance for enterprise mobile learning in 2009 was largely stymied through slashed corporate spending and canceled next generation (or hopefully just postponed) projects. Thankfully, our company experienced an uptake in interest during the 4th quarter that actually led to several forward-looking companies deciding that waiting on the sidelines for a full year might prove a strategic blunder when preparing to catch the first waves that will front the anticipated market recovery we're all hopeful for.

Moreover, cross-market trends in mobile applications, content, devices, web access and general awareness are now unstoppable and every organization must now move beyond the "pondering stage" and into the "action stage".

Knock, Knock!!
Who's there?
Mobile Who?

So, where to start with this year's predictions? As with all things tech-related, we can anticipate several important events and introductions that will shape the next 12 months and consider them self-evident and thus there's no need to list them including strong technical advances from all of the top mobile device OEMs which will all spur innovation, broaden reach and ensure continued market adoption for mobile learning. We can all expect advances in next generation devices and capabilities from Apple, Google/Android, RIM/BlackBerry, Microsoft, Palm, Nokia and others. It is also easy to anticipate that informal/self-service learning will begin to trump formal/assigned learning in terms of "monthly seat time" as mobile learning begins to facilitate learning and contributing anywhere at any time.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, I offer my early January predictions for mlearning in 2010. It will be interesting to see what transpires over the coming months and where things stand at year end. I'm also very interested in hearing any reactions as well as any and all contrarian opinions the blogosphere has to offer.

  1. Traditional "e"-learning vendors will all jump into the "m"-learning and social networking spaces with "first generation" offerings they believe will address the mobile requirements of their customers and prospects; these early efforts will prove largely ineffective as evidenced by their many iterative and incremental updates, retrys and course corrections.
  2. Rather than getting easier, the mlearning landscape will actually grow wider/deeper and far more complex as enterprises are forced to include/support several disparate mobile devices and changing end user demands; this scenario will drive further demand for enterprise-grade content authoring and delivery platforms for mobile learning.
  3. Mobile learning will meld with social networking on every learner's mobile device making the two technologies a fully integrated experience; support for these two technologies will be an essential part of every mlearning vendor's core offerings.
  4. Tablet-based content delivery of mlearning will win our "hearts & minds" over netbook-based content delivery thanks largely to the arrival of Apple's much rumored "iSlate" tablet offering. Others vendors will quickly follow/respond.
  5. The acceptance and adoption of "cloud computing" resources for mobile learning will become commonplace as IT budgets remain strained and the complexity of mobile authoring and delivery continues to increase - especially in larger, more complex environments.
  6. Mobile learners will begin to expect (and demand!) the ability to seamlessly manage and synchronize assignment access, delivery, review and completion between their desktop PC and their mobile device(s).
  7. Mobile learning projects delivered in established and emerging global markets will outnumber those delivered in North America (USA/Canada) due to greater interest, faster uptake and willingness to leverage mlearning on both basic feature phones as well as advanced smartphones.
  8. In the smartphone realm, mobile web-delivered content will prove to be a less compelling mlearning experience as compared to mobile application-delivered content (at least through 2010).
  9. Security will become a MUCH bigger issue for mlearning deployments and all vendors will need to step up their game to ensure content/IP protection and integrity while making access easier.
  10. The arrival of Adobe's Flash Player v10.1 for (most) smartphones will prove far less significant of an event due to the fact content navigation and onscreen interactions will prove difficult on most of the currently deployed enterprise smartphones. For instance, completing a "drag and drop" exercise originally designed for desktop delivery on a BlackBerry Curve/8310 will prove impossible.
  11. By year end, HTML5 will make rich media playback on mobile devices more practical and compelling too making Flash-based content on mobile less of a need.
  12. The first several "sizable" enterprise mlearning projects using Apple iPhones and Android-based smartphones will be delivered into the marketplace as mitigated security concerns make way for a superior on-device experience versus today's standard corporate-centric BlackBerry, WinMo and Symbian (Nokia) interfaces.
  13. Augmented reality applications for mobile learning will begin to appear but because solution development is expensive, technically challenging, and device dependent, AR will capture more headlines than actual budgets.
So, that's my 2010 Predictions list and inaugural posting for the mLearning Trends blog. I am looking forward to seeing how it all plays out and excited about sharing the coming weeks and months with others in active discussion and creative deconstruction.

Happy New Year to all.