Mobile Devices for E-learning: Practical Advice Based on Experience

October 27, 2014 | 760 Views

Mobile Devices for E-learning: Practical Advice Based on Experience

John Poulos

Co-Founder & President | DiscoverLink

It's an understatement to say that the e-learning landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade.  When DiscoverLink first started in 2002, the number one barrier our clients faced in starting an e-learning program was the technology infrastructure.  Most restaurants did not have computing platforms in-store, and even fewer had internet connectivity.  In fact, in order to get our business going in the early days, we often had to set up our clients' stores with desktop computers and satellite connections!

Technology Options Abound

Thankfully, those days are long gone, and the number of technology options to choose from is now nearly endless.  But with those choices there are a whole new set of challenges to consider, with a dizzying array of decisions to be made.  For example:

These are the kinds of decisions our clients consider every day, and the choices made have important consequences.  One of the most difficult decisions is whether or not (or when) to embrace the mobile device movement. 

Tablets on the Table

Tablets, in particular, offer so many enticing advantages. They're user-friendly, touch-screen devices that are extraordinarily portable, and offer myriad apps and capabilities.  But do they offer a reliable platform for e-learning? Here are some things to consider:

Mobilizing for Change

Because training departments often serve as first-level support for e-learning programs in the field, it’s paramount to choose technology that is dependable and will work predictably.  Even the best training program can be derailed by an unexpected browser update that renders your content unusable and torpedoes your staff with support calls.   

Even with the growing pains of HTML5, the use of mobile technology for training is not all doom and gloom.  HTML5 authoring tools are improving with each passing year, web browsers are slowly stabilizing their support of HTML5 and the devices themselves are evolving.  In fact, we are big supporters of mobile devices for e-learning, and we think they really are the way of the future.  That’s why we’re in the midst of updating our Content Library and rebuilding our courses in HTML5.   This is a work in progress, and we’re developing quite a few best practices along the way.

Eyes Wide Open

Because our first priority is the success of our clients’ e-learning programs and given the current state of mobile technology, when our clients ask us for advice about mobile devices, we often caution them about being over-exuberant and not jumping in too soon.  Right now we almost always recommend laptops due to their content flexibility, portability, reliability and supportability.   If tablets are an absolute requirement, we recommend our clients consult with us on the tablets and browser combinations that have proven to be the most stable in our testing.

We eagerly anticipate the day when HTML5 is a mature technology that runs e-learning courses perfectly on all devices. Indeed, the industry appears to be moving in the right direction with every month that goes by.  With that said, we recommend careful consideration of current technology options before choosing the direction that is right for your organization, and we’re here to help you navigate that ever-changing landscape.

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