The e-learning industry is currently engaged in a mad rush to get their stuff to work on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). This rush is driven primarily by clients who can be a little naive when it comes to the tricky technical bits (think of those car buyers who are never interested in looking under the bonnet). For many projects we get a reasonably sensible brief but then tacked on the end is the request that the e-learning also has to be ‘accessible on mobile devices’. Now, in the words of software development, this is ‘non-trivial’ – there are many challenges to developing e-learning that works across the vast number of mobile devices.
However, one of the key challenges is not actually technical at all. It’s about device ownership – because in the majority of cases the mobile devices that learners will be expected to use to access their work based learning are their own personal devices. These are devices that they have purchased and for which they pay all the bandwidth usage costs. This simple fact can throw a big spanner in the works for any roll-out of work based learning on mobile devices.
The simple solution of course is a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy and here’s a really useful infographic that explores the pros and cons of BYOD.
“BYOD has freed up many enterprises from the responsibility of exclusively purchasing and maintaining computing devices, such as notebooks, tablets and smartphones, but companies still need to have policies set in place to make things work.”
I popped into PC World yesterday evening after a client meeting in Plymouth. PC World is now the only physical PC superstore in the UK since the loss of Comet in January. I wanted to check out a Windows 8 laptop, and in particular a touch screen one. Why have a touch screen on a laptop? Good question and one that I have been grappling with as the time has come to upgrade my travelling office which currently comprises:
- Dell Studio laptop with a super high resolution 15.6 inch screen running Windows Vista (nice PC but weighs a ton)
- Acer AspireOne Netbook with a high resolution 11 inch screen running Vista very slowly (but it lasts 8 hours on a charge and is super compact)
- iPad (the original one that I won at an E-Learning Network event back in 2010)
- iPhone 4
So back to that touch screen question. Steve Jobs (my eulogy here) said that they would never catch-on. His view was that no one will find using a touch screen in an upright position comfortable.
You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not gonna be pleasing to the user. Tim Cook from Apple on convertible tablet PCs
Well I’ve been playing and I’ve come to the conclusion that a touch screen really adds to the laptop experience. In fact since I’ve been using an iPhone and iPad I am now in the habit of touching ALL screens just to see if they respond or not! I had great fun in PC World seeing if the the laptops on display would respond to my delicate touch. Not many responded but the ones that did were a revelation. So many things we need to do are just better done with a touch gesture. Accessing photos was magical. So were a lot of scroll and zooming actions. Interacting with e-mail and calendars and tasks was also really intuitive. Obviously I was limited in what I could achieve on the demo machines in the store but overall having a touch screen seems like the way to go – especially for tablet junkies. The only downside is that it has to be a Windows PC. Touch screens are a glaring omission from Apple’s line-up. Will this change now that Steve Jobs has gone? I think it probably might.
Here is my fave touch screen PC from my visit to PC World – the Asus VivoBook S400CA 14-inch at only £599