Further to previous blog posts , the new version of our Moodle 2.1-based VLE (or OU VLE2) has been designed with a mobile-optimised view or render in parallel from the beginning. Module websites were released on VLE2 in the last few weeks, and students are already starting to engage with the new implementation, with good feedback so far.
To give a better context, here’s a sample of a demonstration workspace, using examples as if it was a student account viewing the site (hence the full 3 column view) on a desktop – note that the current week is week 4 (offscreen):
On a current, popular handheld mobile (touchscreen) device the same site looks as shown, with 3 columns aligned into a single optimised view covering key aspects of the site with updates, learning materials and activities:
This particular view is optimised for higher-end mobiles, expected to become mainstream over the course of the staged migration cycle to the new VLE2. In particular, students arrive at an enhanced overview or ‘launchpad’ page containing updates on news items and notifying any unread forum messages, followed by the narrative and activities for the current week of study [week 4 highlighted above]. Students can then go to other pages on the new tabbed view to explore prior and future weeks in the study planner, all of their forums and any resources placed alongside for common access throughout the study period. The following screenshots are from an actual live module [D171 : Introduction to counselling]:
At any point, if the user determines that their mobile device is capable, or they prefer for other reasons – they can switch to a desktop view of the site instead (and switch back). Additional features to note are that the student can use the tick-boxes to keep track between devices/interfaces and that if they personalise with a note against any week this is also visible on mobiles.
For lower-end phones, such as ‘feature phones’ and some smartphones, depending on capabilities a different [and more read-only] view of the module site is available through a version of the launchpad similar to that available on VLE1 (or Mobile VLE v1 – beta).
Tablets are catered for in that the desktop experience is shown, but with the option for users to switch to a mobile view if they prefer. It should be noted that some of the interactive tools such as Elluminate will not work (nor will Flash, depending on device and the installation of plugins/apps).
As mentioned previously, the redesign has followed positive student feedback on the current Mobile VLE v1 beta and surveyed responses, to maintain quick access to enable them to keep on top of their studies. This was validated by usability testing and will now provide a common framework for faculties and curriculum teams to build on more mobile-specific activities as appropriate.