mLearning DevCon 2011

I’m wrapping up my to-dos from mLearning DevCon, a conference I attended last week that was from the organizers of eLearning DevCon, but (as you might have surmised) geared toward m-learning development. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect from this brand-new event, but I was quite pleasantly surprised. It drew some people who I knew were doing great work in our industry, but it was also easily small enough to make connections, start in-depth conversations, and ideate.

Here were my favorites of the sessions I attended:

I learned a few new prototyping methods and tools from Chad Udell in his session, Prototyping on a Shoestring with Virtually No Tech Skills. The tools Chad shared – FieldTest, for example – were (appropriately) more applicable to mobile development than e-learning development, but the concepts and processes were universal. One example: There are many types of prototypes, each with a certain level of functional and visual fidelity. Which one you choose to do should depend on your purposes and how much effort it’s worth putting in at your stage in the design and development process.

I was also happy to pick up a few tricks in What’s all the Hype? HTML5 Animations Using a Mac from Jeff Batt. Hype is an HTML5 animation tool I’ve been experimenting with for integration into HTML-publishing software like Lectora, and its output integrates extremely well, even for courses that require 508 compliance. We do a lot of 508 work, so it’s a win for us to pick up new tools that add pizzazz while keeping things accessible. Jeff also gave some pointers on integrating Hype output into PhoneGap, a framework for converting web content into native apps for mobile devices.

Last but definitely not least, Judy Brown’s keynote session introduced us to a wide range of ways mobile devices could be used for learning and also explored a case study on the ADL’s forays into the field. This particular case involved the conversion of an existing e-learning course on human trafficking to mobile delivery. But more intriguing, then they made the materials available for vendors of m-learning software and services to do the same, and she showed some of those approaches. While I believe she would be the first to tell you to design for mobile rather than convert existing courses as a best practice, it was certainly interesting to see the different takes – from full-on course development to conversion to performance support – that the different groups came up with. The full report on the project will be available in December from ADL.

I was pleased to bring two presentations to share, as well. Some of the work we’ve been doing for clients over the past year has involved not designing for mobile specifically, but creating designs that work on tablet devices (particularly iPads). I shared some lessons we’ve learned in the process – as well as through my HTML5 research and advocacy over the past couple of years – in Will This Work on my iPad? I also shared a number of tools and recommendations for building HTML5-friendly audio, video, animations, and other enhancements in Bridging the Gaps: Bringing Multimedia to Mobile with HTML5-Ready Utilities.

If you’re interested in more resources from this event, be sure to check out David Kelly’s blog, Misadventures in Learning, where he has collected publicly shared resources from this conference.

And now it’s time to look forward to a whole different conference experience soon! Diane and I are gearing up for DevLearn 2011 in Las Vegas in a few weeks, so if you want to get in touch, please do at @dpelkins or @jkunrein. We hope to see you there!

Judy Unrein

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