Mobile VLE project overview

Project purpose
The purpose of the Mobile VLE project will be to improve the support available to OU students and ALs who wish to use services delivered by the OU VLE platform via connected devices on-the-go.

Use cases appropriate in considering the impact of the Mobile VLE project include:
• VLE users who prefer to browse using mobile technology able to connect ‘on-the-go’ (via GPRS, 3G, ‘3G broadband’/HSDPA, WiFi)
• VLE users who wish to interact and use their device as a means of inputting or adding small proportions of content
• VLE users who plan ahead for some anticipated study time while ‘roaming’, and download learning resources onto their device.

Please note that the previous mLearn project use cases including use of mobile technologies as ‘companion devices’ and supporting users with no fixed point of access are still considered, but indirectly.

An additional purpose for the Mobile VLE project will be for the OU VLE to retain parity with other commercial VLE systems, while offering distinctive opportunities for our students.

Project scope
Amendments to the VLE are the primary scope of the project, supporting teaching and learning activity.

A two-phase approach to the project is anticipated:
• Optimising VLE sites for delivery to mobile devices, and to allow better interactivity, e.g. with text input and uploading of audiovisual user-generated content.
• Packaging course content for students to download for more lengthy review, or to allow for intermittent connectivity and self-paced formative activity.

The second phase requires multiple, smaller scale investigation and evaluation before development work is initiated. Two strands currently identified are formative audiovisual eAssessment and multiformat eBooks

Mobile Internet browsing will need to be reviewed, stakeholders consulted, in addition to a student survey. Proof-of-concept work and prototyping will also be required to inform development.

Technologies/platforms used by our student body will vary widely, and as no market leader has been established in the newer smartphone sector, a device agnostic approach is required. Concentrating on high-end devices that are expected to become mainstreamed within a year is also advised.

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