How do we achieve a balanced solution for mobile content and applications? The iPhone has really raised the bar for mobile web browsing, and most mobile devices will soon have high quality browsing even if the screen remains small. Similarly, the growth area in handhelds are so-called ‘converged’ devices: smartphones or wireless-enabled PDAs. Consequently, I propose it will be a plausible approach to start thinking of web apps as a delivery vehicle for mLearning.
Web standards for screen size started at 640 x 480, and have ranged through 800 x 600, to 1024 x 768. The iPhone has established a significant enough market presence to drive a variety of sites to create a version that accommodates the iPhone’s resolution of 480 x 320. Phones can go down to as low as 160 x 160, so that might be your lowest common denominator, but I believe a safe bet could be 320 x 240 which is fairly common on a variety of devices. The new 800 x 600?
The point being, that thinking about small web apps may be the cost-effective and logical approach to provide mobile access, content. 160 x 160 is the new 640 x 480, etc. Already there are blogging tools for phones/mobile devices, and wikis are just web pages, etc. Web 1.0 is likely to be a viable solution, and the convergence of Web 2.0 and mobile is a promising place to play. Anyone game?
I would like to challenge Clark on one more thought. Maybe no standard size is the new standard? We have years of instructional design methods and standards regarding when to put what content in training. With mLearning, it seems many folks are trying to smash existing content standards into preset screen sizes. Instead of thinking lowest common denominator, why not consider mailable content to the end-user's situation? By this, I mean that content isn't written with one single screen size in mind, but instead, we take the approach of creating content that, by design, will modify itself to the user versus simply the screen size.
Think about it this way, if a user is accessing training on a 160x160 handset, he obviously is looking for something, at a time or in a location, that prevents him from accessing this content from a different venue. Does he need a quick answer? If he needs a quick answer or quick training, is a truncated eLearning course the best solution?
Over and over, it has been said that one of the factors in mLearning not taking off is screen size. Maybe we as developers are partially to blame as we've been focusing on fitting old eLearning models into new formats? Maybe we need to start changing our models to fit our user's full experience, not just his screen size?
Just something to chew on for a while........