When we talk of device agnostic content development, it is very important to set realistic expectations in the light of the current web technologies and device capabilities. Having built several device agnostic applications for many of our clients, we at Origin Learning understand the difference in the usability of an end mobile learning product when it is written using packaged rapid authoring software vis-à-vis when it is built from scratch.
There are various levels of interactivity. These are:
There is no interactivity in this level as such. The first level is simply broadcasting information on a mobile screen to build knowledge and comprehension. These apps are mostly ‘page-turners’ and learning is passive in nature.
The course still continues to be basic, but slight interactivity in the form of clickable graphics, menus or lists appears. This level enables learners to glean more out of the information presented. Examples include puzzles, quizzes, assessments, etc.
Google Now can be cited as an example of a Level 3 interactive application. At this level, learners are more in control of their learning as the course proceeds according to his/her dynamic participation. The degree of complexity can go from moderate to high as complex simulations or animations are included.
Level 4 is highly advanced learning which typically uses gamification, 3D simulations and serious games, and immersive experiences for training. Level 4 is difficult to achieve on the mobile device and is currently more a feature of computer based e-learning.
When building interactive content for mobile learning, the following things must be kept in mind:
- The fewer the different ‘kinds’ of devices, the better is the interactivity. When you narrow down the specs, say by catering to all devices in the iPad family, the quality and uniformity of user experience is greatly enhanced.
- A tradeoff exists between the kinds of devices and interactivity. When you add more devices, the expectations must be streamlined to match the available technologies. Awareness about what is possible and what not, is very important when we talk of device agnostic content. In the above example, if you want to expand by adding iPhones and Android devices (to cater to a larger audience), there are limitations because there is only so much HTML5, JQuery and similar web technologies can do. This challenge arises out of limitations of devices and not the applications being built. This is further explained in the next point.
- Operating systems come in different flavors.So though all given devices may be Android KitKat, technically speaking, they could be different in the way they render content.This happens because handset manufacturers OEM devices with a slightly customized version of the OS.
These things been said, it ultimately boils down to meeting an organization’s learning needs within the given budget. We have built native (device specific) apps that are browser based as well as generic web apps. Our ground-breaking work in many device agnostic content delivery projects has enabled us to build solutions around the limitations that current technologies pose.
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