Have You mEnabled Your eLearning For iPads?

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Since its launch, back in April 2010, Apple has sold more than 100 million iPads – a mind boggling quantity unmatched and way ahead of any other device manufacturer. It literally revolutionised the ‘hand held’ mobile, tablet market across the world. Unsurprisingly, global enterprise’s interest in the iPad is growing and it is reported that a staggering 94 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are either testing or deploying the iPad. A fact supported by the recent news that Barclays, one of the world’s largest banks, has just bought 8,500 iPads for use by their branch staff! From “the Tablet is coming” to “it’s already here” – touch screens, portability, screen size, easy to use features and mobility have made iPads hugely popular and we are witnessing growing levels of adoption across both, the corporate and education markets. Further proof of this is how readily schools, students and teachers are embracing the iPad as their device of choice. Watch this amazing video. For most organisations, adopting mobile learning raises the BIG question of “What do we do with our existing content (probably developed in Flash which doesn’t run on the iPad)? mEnabling (as we call it) your existing eLearning for iPads will soon become a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’. This will mean a whole new way of designing, developing and delivering materials, information and learning for iPads or tablets which we all will need to move very quickly towards. So, how can you mEnable your eLearning for iPads?

mEnabling your (existing) eLearning for the iPad

In one of our earlier blog posts, we talked about Converting eLearning to Tablet Learning: Cost-effective Solutions, and looked at how converting existing eLearning to Tablet Learning can be relatively easy. Visually, the display areas of tablets are similar to desktop PCs and therefore, from a design perspective, content repurposing is often quite simple. However, the software is another story. Because iPads don’t support Flash and a lot of the existing eLearning is Flash-based, it’s essential to convert it to an iPad friendly medium – HTML (yes, back to HTML!) to make it compatible on an iPad. Moreover, Apple’s mobile browser Safari can also affect and largely decide on the design of your eLearning course as it can be very ‘choosy’ about supporting interactivity we took almost for granted when building in Flash.

Flash CS6 Toolkit for CreateJS, Captivate Version 6, Articulate Storyline, Adobe Edge are some of the tools that promise ‘quick fix’ solutions to converting your existing eLearning for tablets. A number of Rapid Authoring tools, like Adobe Captivate 5.5 with HTML5 Converter and Lectora Inspire can also help you to quickly convert your eLearning to HTML5 for mobile delivery, as well as create dynamic video and Flash content. But, is just conversion the answer? And will it be as seamless and simple as everyone says it will be? Well the short answer is “not quite!” – It isn’t as simple and certainly not without its own challenges. You may have to kill off some of your interactivities, stop playing some video or audio files and possibly make a lot of smaller ‘compromises’ just because they are not supported by iOS. But all is not lost and there is light at the end of the tunnel! So before you get started, weigh up your options, re-look at your learning requirements and consider following questions and suggestions, which might help you get started:

  1. Should I convert existing ones into HTML? Or would it make better sense to develop a new, (perhaps more contemporary?) HTML course from scratch?
  2. What conversion tools will work best for you, in terms of output, time and money?
  3. Look beyond just the Flash components, existing courses may have third party plug-ins and interactivities to make the course more effective but don’t work on iPads.
  4. Look at how the interface design will support touch screen navigation and finger-tip controls.
  5. Ensure your new courses are not just technically compatible, but also deliver an effective and aesthetically appealing learning experience to your users.
  6. Are the new courses SCORM compliant? And do they communicate with the LMS for scores and other tracking data?

Now that we have thought over mEnabling your existing eLearning for iPads, watch out for the next post where I answer one of the most crucial questions on everybody’s mind – ‘How do you build eLearning for iPads?’ I‘m sure you will enjoy reading this one too. Also, I would like to welcome you to join me and my colleague, Amit Garg, for a session on “Designing eLearning for iPads” at Learning Technologies 2013 on Tuesday 29th Jan, 12:30 PM in Seminar Theatre 3, where we will be talking about the key factors for designing eLearning for iPads and “mEnabling” your existing eLearning. Or if you would like to chat with me or Amit personally, book a slot by emailing alan.ukinfo@upsidelearning.com and come across to stand #55.

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