The iPhone is nearly three years old. The iPod touch, two. Very soon, a third device in that family, the iPad will be here. All of these devices feature high resolution multitouch displays, advanced media capabilities and a great web browser, mobile Safari. All of these devices also lack the plugin needed to play the most widely deployed media file format on the web, the Adobe Flash Player.
As an eLearning developer, this may concern you. It certainly is sparking lots of debate and concern at some sites. Beyond some of the other arguments postulated already, there are a number of other reasons about why it doesn’t matter as much as you may think that may help you sleep easier at night.
Mobile Webkit is good. Very good.
In the mobile space, while browser compatibility is a big deal, there are some key players that make building, testing and deploying a little easier. A huge majority of web enabled smartphones use Mobile Webkit as their rendering engine. iPhone/iPod/iPad, Droid/Android Devices, Palm WebOS and many Symbian devices all use this browser. Even new Blackberry devices are starting to be released using this browser. This amounts to a huge advantage in developing mobile web applications and in turn mLearning tools. The fact that you are likely deploying to a small selection of devices inside of a company allows you to focus on content development and minimize exposure to lengthy testing cycles. Good news!
There might not be an app for that, but there could be.
Yes, we’ve seen the ads. If you haven’t heard that the latest generation of smartphones major new selling point seems to be custom developed applications for virutally any possible use case, you must be living under a rock. With a little training of your development staff, you could very well port over your content to be a native application on the device platform of your choice. We’ve already talked about that, here.
Please note we’re not necessarily advocating for that, though. There a lot of hurdles to jump through in getting applications redesigned, redeveloped, tested and deployed on these platforms. Plus, if you really are moving Flash content over from eLearning to an mLearning application, there may be big issues in terms of context and user experience that a simple port just won’t fix. Things must be looked at holistically if you are going to produce something desirable to the audience.
Maybe it wasn’t meant to be
You have to realize this… mLearning is NOT eLearning on a small screen. What is an appropriate, engaging experience on a big desktop or laptop may be burdensome and tedious on a touchscreen handheld. It’s unlikely that your eLearning courseware is a great mLearning tool. You may need to rethink how you are designing your content and turn a drag and drop interactive piece into a SMS audience response tool. The changes could be that drastic.
These suggestions are just the beginning. While we at Float wish that Adobe and Apple could just get along and the world’s most ubiquitous content delivery platform, Flash, could be available on a highly popular mobile device, it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards. What are some creative ways you are getting around the obstacle of not having Flash on the Apple mobile family? Float wants to know.
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