Mobiles are small devices. That is what makes them most suitable to fit your pocket and schedule as and when you like them. However, implementing a mobile-learning strategy involves a careful understanding of how far current LMSs are capable of developing and delivering content on the mobile platform.
The question we ask here is: Are current LMSs ready for delivering mobile learning content? The answer to this lies in examining the current state of LMSs. LMS apps are of two kinds- native and web apps. To understand the basic difference, think of how a website like Facebook or LinkedIn opens on your browser as compared to when you have an app installed for the same. The native app certainly provides a better user experience by adjusting the layout of the whole design optimally for the mobile screen. For example, for Facebook, you’ll have a pull-over list from the left side of the screen that enlists all groups that you’re part of. All features are adjusted to make the experience of using Facebook just as it is on a PC. On the other hand, if you open it on your web-browser say Opera Mini, Chrome, Safari or any other, the Facebook website will appear differently on different browsers. For example, the 3 icons of ‘friend requests’, ‘notifications’ and ‘messages’ may be represented quite differently. This may often undermine the browsing experience. Both native and web apps have their advantages and disadvantages:
|Native Apps||Web Apps|
|Data can be downloaded when internet is available, and then accessed even later||They generally require an internet connection to browse.|
|App automatically syncs data as soon as internet connection becomes available. For example, Facebook notifications, new messages automatically get updated as soon as internet is restored.||Pages have to be refreshed to download updates.|
|App installation is required from App stores of Google, Apple, Windows, etc.||They can be used on any device which has an installed browser and an internet connection.|
|Slightly more expensive to create.||‘Create once and distribute over many devices’, therefore more economical.|
While some LMS vendors do provide native LMS apps on which employees can have a better, more reliable and fuller learning experience, it still hasn’t become very popular. This is partly because of the resources and knowledge involved in creating a native app; and partly because in many cases, apps developed solely using HTML5 take longer to deliver than planned. With non-native responsive frameworks, a lot of time is lost testing and fixing issues. Moreover, operating system fragmentation issues further make developing native apps and content for specific platforms slightly more difficult.
On the other hand, delayed updates or bugs in mobile browsers is a cause for slow performance for HTML5 web apps. This is corroborated by a Forrester research: HTML5 apps still not as good as native apps, which suggests that a responsive strategy makes sense only when apps for all devices have the necessary support they need to perform optimally.
To sum it up, LMSs are definitely ready and equipped to deliver mobile learning. Though the number isn’t huge, many organizations have successfully added mobile learning, which means that it is possible to have a good LMS support for mobile. But there is still a lot to be done. Perhaps a greater willingness and demand from organizations to adopt mobile learning drive development.
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