Archive for the ‘Mobile course content’ Category

Updates – projects and course development

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Mobile VLE – a student survey is currently being reviewed by our SRPP team, and will hopefully be targetted initially at exisiting users of StudentHome mobile and our mobile learners to help shape the priorities for design work from summer onwards. The plan then is to get wider feedback on sample designs, possibly with student usability trials. Development work is already underway to ensure that VLE users on devices can interact better with text-based tools.

eBooks – after an initial technical review (report available soon), the formats selected for further development of transformational code are Mobipocket and ePub open eBook format, which provide for best portability across format, best extensibility for a variety of uses and are the most closely based on standards.

Audio eAssessment – initial work by the L120 Intermediate French team with our contractors Learnosity has yielded an effective voice response system for students to engage with speaking and listening activities using their phones. Mobile phone review of a structured conversation is also possible, currently beyond the capabilities of equivalent DVD-ROM approaches and further work will be undertaken to ensure that a separate student review web interface can be accessed on devices. Initial work for an iPhone, then Google Phone app is expected to follow. Further discussions will then take place on the wider coordination of ‘Audiovisual eAssessment’ activities.

Mobile course learning design and staff development – plans are also underway to initiate cross-faculty work in considering what elements of course delivery are most suitable for mobile learners, and how much content can be specifically tailored in a small number of pilot courses to be nominated by faculty members of the Learning Innovation Steering Group. Further work is also expected in the Education and Professional Development area in the next academic year, which I will update on when confirmed.

Multiformat eBook proof-of-concept

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I’m including the overview of this outsourced work for reference, technical evaluation is currently underway and I hope to be able to evaluate the results with colleagues during July 2009:

Multiformat eBook project
The specification consists of investigating multiple eBook formats; designing and developing transformational code to output OU structured content in new ways. The work is to undertake a proof-of-concept model with a small sample of OU content and provide the following formats:

eReader (PDB) using PML

Mobipocket (MOBI) using OPF

Open eBook (EPUB)

Kindle (AZW) – can use unprotected PRC and MOBI Mobipocket formats

The OU currently provides course material in print, PDF and increasingly in DAISY talking book (DTB) format, including MP3 of synthetic voice read-out. The methods used for these should also be investigated in drawing up equivalent processes and transforms for the additional formats above.

The development work is expected to require two main phases of work:

  • Establishing XSL transforms from OU Intermediate XML content, marked up for the formats listed above.
  • Embedding these new XSLT operations within the OU content management engine alongside other conversions to PDF and DTB.

Where possible, the development work should preserve embedded assets within the OU structured documents and resize images as necessary, for example. Metadata should be accounted for, as well as canned text for items or activities that lie outside the linear text narrative.

The aim is to provide a ‘best attempt’ at automatic multiformat conversion, logging any errors or warnings rather than stopping the process or customising further for the content samples.

As eBooks are now more commonly downloaded over-the-air to mobile devices, filesize should be considered and not be larger that 2MB. Students should have the option of downloading a specific block of content or larger packaged versions depending on course provision.

Mobile VLE stakeholder consultation 19th March 2009

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Copying the message sent out to Strategy-Mlearn-List mail list earlier:

I have been in consultation with a number of smaller groups of interested parties, but would now appreciate if you are able to attend, or send representatives to a Mobile VLE stakeholder meeting on 19th March 2009, 1-3PM, Library Presentation Room. Coffee and cake provided.

This meeting would be most appropriate for colleagues involved in usability and learning design for courses, those implementing course sites and colleagues who receive regular feedback from students as to online course provision.

We will be working in conjunction with the Integrated Online Experience project looking at design and usability of the VLE. We need to have a vision on what appropriate VLE services should be highlighted (and most easily accessible) to users browsing with mobile technologies, and ideally how these can be structured, most likely around the study planner.

Looking to the future we also need to improve on interactions, not just browsing capabilities, and an additional aim will be to ensure that OU (formative) learning material can be packaged for use while mobile, even with intermittent connectivity.

Please confirm whether you can attend via the Learning-Innovation mailbox by Friday 6th March.

Mobile VLE going ahead

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

At the Learning Innovation Steering Group yesterday, an outline for the Mobile VLE was given, and I will be approaching stakeholders soon to get this on a firmer footing.

The discussions I’ve had so far certainly confirm that we should be doing more than just providing another channel for our content – we really need to be looking at the interactivity (which on multiple – and currently unsupported – browsers is challenging). Mobile optimised sites are best when they’re not just reformatting content, but offering appropriate services quickly.

The recent VLE redesign and the work of the Integrated Online Experience project have already improved the mobile internet browsing experience of the VLE and will be key to further improvements.

Currently I can see 2 phases of development (in outline):

  • Making the study planner the core optimised content block, providing tools (on the sidebar) as footer navigation items. Ensuring that the text entry and HTML editors work at a basic level across mobile browsers;
  • Looking to package some of the more static content for review when users have no connection (which of course still happens while mobile) and improve/export some of the quiz functionality for formative self-assessment.

Colleagues are welcome to comment at this early stage in shaping the scope of the project and I will be asking nominees and other mobile technology community members to get involved via the mail lists in due course.

We’re also going to have to look at the layout of the sign-in process as from what I’ve seen so far you can’t even get past this using Google Android and some other phone web browsers…

Project updates: Mobile Course Content

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Disabled Student Services have taken their investigation of the DAISY format further with the establishment of the Digital Audio project. It is hoped that automated realistic voice synthesis of textual content will find mainstream acceptance, and will inform provision of multiple format outputs of production content.

Development of transferable, reusable flash learning objects, animations and simulations is under discussion with LTS Media teams. Current policies regarding the currency of the player versions (Flash Player 8/9) with regard to accessibility need to be revisited in light of the lack of backward-compatibility and transferability between (mobile) platforms.

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