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.

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