E-learning Curve Blog at Edublogs

E-learning Curve Blog is Michael Hanley's elearning blog about skills, knowledge, and organizational development using web-based training and technology in education

Entries Tagged as 'online learning'

Streaming Media for E-Learning: A Primer

July 8, 2009 by Michael Hanley · 2 Comments · asynchronous, collaboration tools, content delivery, e-learning, elearning content, learning on demand, multiple channels, online learning, online presentation tool, synchronous, technology in education, web based training, web-based learning

I’m preparing a series of blog articles on the topic E-Learning Using Collaboration Platforms. In the series I will discuss:

  • Collaboration Platform Technology
  • Synchronous Delivery
  • Asynchronous Delivery
  • Overview of Products on the Market
  • Production Considerations
  • What works (and what doesn’t work)
  • The Online Instructor
  • Mentoring
  • Integrating Collaboration Solutions and Other E-Learning Channels

This is an area of technology in education that I’m especially interested in, so I’m really looking forward to bringing this set of blog posts to you here on the E-Learning Curve Blog. As the series is still under development, there’s an opportunity to request an article on an aspect of this topic that you might like to see covered: let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

In the meantime, I thought I’d give you a ‘heads up’ by discussing some of the fundamentals surrounding using collaboration solutions: streaming media.

Until about five years ago, Web-based audio and video – or digital – media was primarily a download-and-play technology. Users had to download an entire media file before it could be played back. If you’re over 30, you’ll  remember those postage stamp-sized video clips (usually in ASF or MOV format) that took forever to load over your dial-up connection (and were hardly worth the wait). Because digital media files are usually very large and take a long time to download, the only content found on the Web was short, low motion clips. Even these files could take 20 minutes or longer to download.

How video used to look – Marc J. Rosenberg discusses personalized learning
[Click to play video]

With the increasing availability of high-speed internet access, streaming digital media has YouTube_logobecome more prevalent. In the consumer market, this has led to the rise in popularity of  services like YouTube, and the current emergence of video-on-demand (VOD) solutions like Hulu, as well as ustream and for lifecasting and live video streaming of events online.

hulu_logo Streaming media works almost instantaneously: other than a short delay before the requested file starts to play, you don’t have to wait to start watching, no matter if the file lasts thirty seconds or thirty minutes in duration.

Broadly speaking, there are two way of delivering streaming digital media content over the ustreamlogoWeb. The first method uses a standard HTTP Web server to deliver the audio and video data  to a media player. The second approach uses a separate streaming media server designed specifically to stream digital media. Using a streaming server is more efficient and flexible, provides a better user experience, and is more secure than HTTP streaming.

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and I will begin to look at these tomorrow.

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Phases of the 3PD Approach: Discovering Instructional Design 15

June 16, 2009 by Michael Hanley · Comments Off · ADDIE, collaboration tools, constructivist learning, e-learning, elearning research and development, instructional design, ISD, Kirkpatrick, learning channel, learning outcomes, learning strategy, learning styles, modes of learning, online learning

The intent of the Three-Phase Development (3PD) Model was to provide a new focus for the end-to-end learning content and evaluation development process, especially for Web-based teaching and learning. As discussed yesterday, a central tenet of 3PD was that course creation could not be viewed as a short-term development process, but rather as a long-term collaborative process which would

generate and evolve into focused communities of practice with shared understanding and a philosophy of continuous improvement

(Sims & Jones, 2003 , p. 18) 

Three-Phase Design is configured to elicit learning content through a three-step process of developing functionality, evaluating, elaborating, and enhancing and maintaining materials, rather than the more traditional systems approach of analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate. The approach also aims to align the "three essential competency sets" for courseware development – course design, subject matter exposition, and content production – in an integrated fashion rather than as a set of uncoordinated activities.

Rather than process driving development, it is the context of the educational components which determine the members of development teams in a targeted and effective manner. Ideally, these teams would remain for the duration of the project, potentially over a number of semesters.

(Sims, 2008 p.3)

To achieve this goal, 3PD specifies a series of "baselines" (2008 p.4) that align with implementation iterations – the first focusing on building functional and essential course components, the second on enhancement or interactivity, and the third to ongoing maintenance of the courseware (see Figure 1). These three phases of development integrate systems-based methodological approaches to content development, scaffolding of contributors, and quality assurance.

3PD_Baselines

Figure 1: Three-Phase Design & Scaffolding (after Sims & Jones, 2003)
[Click to enlarge]

According to Sims and Jones, Phase 1 is a predelivery mode, which involves the gathering and preparation of web-based teaching resources, learning channel, specifying assessment-based outcomes, preferred teaching modality, and learning/learner activities designed to attain the prescribed outcomes. Three-phase Design enables a teacher with minimal experience in Web-based  training and learning environments to access "functional learning structures" (Sims, 2008 p.4) and in-team expertise from the Developers and the Educational Designers in the group.

Phase 2 (Enhancement) is the delivery stage in 3PD. The asynchronisity of digital network supported learning, and the object-oriented nature of e-learning is such that modifications can be implemented in courseware on an ongoing basis (for example to take account of new learning materials or new knowledge) to enhance the student’s ability to achieve the learning objectives. The second phase can be in this way to take place during course delivery, with Kirkpatrick Level 1 and Level 2-style feedback from both instructors and learners being used to modify and/or enhance delivery either continuously. or in a staged manner. For example modifications may be implemented before the beginning of each new semester, based upon the reactions of learners who took the course during the previous semester.

The third stage of 3PD – the maintenance phase – occurs during the "main sequence" (to borrow a term form astronomy) of the course lifecycle. In time, a course will attain a stable state where the teaching strategies and learning activities are working effectively, it’s materials are up-to-date, and the course is taken by sufficient number of learners to make delivery and maintenance cost-effective for the host institution.

Sims (2008) considers that:

The implications of applying the 3PD model is that the original functional system will always be subject to change, and that development environments need to schedule resources for the life-time of that course. The continual process of gathering and incorporating evaluation data caters for the sustainability of the course.

(p.6)

Phase 3 provides an opportunity for a rigorous quality assurance process to be undertaken, and for stakeholders in the course development project to consolidate the instructional design and collaborative skills acquired during the 3PD process: ideally these skills are then applied to the development of a new learning program, where they continue to be refined, with remediation taking place as necessary.
___________

References:

Sims, R. (2006). Beyond instructional design: Making learning design a reality.Journal of Learning Design, 1(2), 1-7. Internet: Available from: http://www.jld.qut.edu.au/ Accessed 3 June 2009.

Sims, R., & Jones, D. (2002). Continuous Improvement Through Shared Understanding: Reconceptualising Instructional Design for Online Learning. Proceedings of the 2002 ascilite conference: winds of change in the sea of learning: charting the course of digital education. Internet: Available from: http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/auckland02/proceedings/papers/162.pdf Accessed 3 June 2009

Sims, R., & Jones, D. (2003). Where practice informs theory: Reshaping instructional design for academic communities of practice in online teaching and learning. Information Technology, Education and Society, 4(1), 3-20.

Sims, R. (2008). From three-phase to proactive learning design: Creating effective online teaching and learning environments, in J. Willis (Ed), Constructivist Instructional Design (C-ID): Foundations, Models, and Practical Examples.

Sims, R. Analysis of Three Instructional Design Models. Internet: Available from: http://www.de-research.com/PhDFinalPapers/CT_3IDModels.pdf Accessed 1 June 2009

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Discovering Instructional Design 12: the ICARE Model

June 11, 2009 by Michael Hanley · 2 Comments · ADDIE, approaches to learning, e-learning, e-learning development, e-learning ecosystem, Gagne, instructional design, ISD, modes of learning, online learning, organizational development, performance enhancement

In the broadest sense instructional design has been described as

…an emerging profession, (2) focused on establishing and maintaining efficient and effective human performance, (3) guided by a model of human performance, (4) carried out systematically, (5) based on open systems theory, and (6) oriented to finding and applying the most cost-effective solutions to human performance problems and discovering
quantum leaps in productivity improvement through human ingenuity.

(Smith & Tillman, 2004 p.1)

More prosaically Gustafson & Branch  consider instructional design (ID) as

a system of procedures for developing education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion. Instructional design is a complex process that is creative, active, and iterative.

(What is Instructional Design? 2002, p. 17)

The latter assert that instructional design is a complex systematic process with the following characteristics;

  • interdependent – no elements can be separated from the system
  • synergistic – all the elements can achieve more than the individual elements alone
  • dynamic – systems can adjust to changing conditions in environments
  • cybernetic – elements communicate among them efficiently

According to Gustafson and Branch, adhering to a instructional systems design process and can make instruction more effective and relevant to learners.

With these parameters in place, let’s take a look at the ICARE approach to designing instruction. Based on the venerable Dick and Carey Model and pioneered by San Diego State University in 1997, the model has found a place in the higher education sector. According to Vincent Salyers (2006) ICARE has potential "as one possible means for structuring and organizing course content." As we’ll see in my next blog post, the Centre for Learning Development at Middlesex University have adapted the ICARE framework, designed templates with built-in guidelines for use by academics with little experience in instructional design, and extended the model as the basic pedagogy  for their ‘Global Campus’ instructional framework for distance education (Mojab & Huyck, 2001).

According to the ICARE Model’s main proponents Hoffman and Ritchie (1998), the model is distilled from basic instructional design practice (see Table 1), and adapting various systems to what seemed to be particularly useful components for e-learning course design and development.

Table 1. The ICARE Model

Phase

Description

Introduction

This phase consists of the introduction to the unit of instruction including:

  • Context
  • Objectives
  • Prerequisites
  • Required study time
  • Equipment required
  • Essential reading materials

Connect or Content

Almost all content will reside in this section

Apply All activities

Exercise, thinking questions, etc are implemented in this phase

Reflect

This phase provides an opportunity for learners to reflect on their acquired knowledge and articulate their experience. This section may include: topics for discussion, a learning journal/log, a self test, formative and summative assessment

Extend

An amalgamation of all the previous phases which offers materials and learning opportunities which can be remedial, supplemental, or advanced, depending on learner performance

In this context for example, when refactoring course content into online modules (what the authors term "distance learning units") a conventional 20-credit module is deconstructed into twenty units worth nine hours of study each. The model has the following five distinctive but interrelated components that are applied to individual lesson/lecture ‘unit.’

More…

___________

References:

Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. M. (2002). What is instructional design? In: R.A. Reiser & J. A. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (pp. 16-25). Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice-Hall.

Hoffman, B., & Ritchie, D.C (1998). (2005). Teaching and learning online: Tools, templates, and training. In: J. Willis, D. Willis, & J. Price (Eds.), Technology and teacher education annual – 1998. Charlottesville, VA: Association for Advancement of Computing in Education.

Mojab, D. & Huyck, C. (2001). The Global Campus at Middlesex University: A Model for E-Learning. [Internet] Available from: http://www.cwa.mdx.ac.uk/chris/draft6.doc Retrieved 3 June 2009

Salyers, V. (2006, July). Using the ICARE Format for Structuring Online Courses. Impact 2006, WebCT, 8th Annual Users Conference; San Antonio, TX.

Smith, P.L., & Tillman, J.R. (2004) Instructional Design (3rd Ed). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Books.

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Discovering Instructional Design 8: Developing Material for Learning Programs

June 5, 2009 by Michael Hanley · Comments Off · e-learning, elearning, elearning content, instructional design, ISD, online learning

Continuing this series on instructional design. Today, I’m going to outline some guidelines for developing the material for a learning program.

Now read on…

Criterion Tests
These are instruments to enable learners and instructors alike to determine whether the learner is ready to move to the next unit of instruction, hence the term criterion-referenced assessment. They are not intended to determine how well a student performed in comparison with other students or norm-referenced assessment, or grading on the curve.

Practices
The description should list tools and equipment needed, and environmental requirement if relevant.  The instructional designer is typically guided by the conditions specified in the objective.

Content derivation
When objectives, criterion tests, practices and audience are all defined, the relevant content can be produced.  Key learning points are listed along with examples, questions and illustrations.  Often the instructional designer will undertake a “mapping” exercise to a particular textbook, for example a Microsoft Office User Specialist-certified publication can be used if the course if training office productivity skills on the PC. The example in Table 1 is a (modified) extract of a specification of a time management e-learning product.

Table 1 A Sample Mapping

Topic Time flies – where?

Taxonomy level

Objective/

assessment

Mapping

Evaluation

Assess your use of the resource of time

Time as a precious resource: page 9, right

Self-assessment and indicators of bad time management 10-22

Time log: 45-65

Key concepts

You want to achieve your goals. To do so you need to match the time available for those goals

  • Time is a precious resource.
  • Assess how well you are using that precious resource:
  • Calculate how much of that resource was wasted today.
  • Calculate how much of that resource is available to you to pursue your goals (proactive time) when you take away legitimate interruptions (reactive time) and necessary but low-level work (maintenance).
  • If you use time badly, you won’t achieve; if you use it well there are many benefits, especially achieving your goals

Presentation guidelines

Delivery System Selection
This determines the combination of media, resources, job aids,  and classroom exercises needed for both instruction and practice.

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Discovering Instructional Design 5: Stages in the Affective Taxonomy

May 27, 2009 by Michael Hanley · Comments Off · affective domain, e-learning, instructional design, ISD, learning outcomes, measurement, online learning, performance, performance enhancement

Goal statements (sometimes called purpose statements) are often used with the Affective Taxonomy.  They answer the question, "Why does the student need to learn this material?" Goal statements reflect the instructional designer’s empathy for the learner’s  motivation and attitudes,  which should enhance the outcome of the lesson (see Table 1).

Table 1 Levels off the Affective Domain

Affective Domain

Level

Definition

Example

Receiving

Being aware of or attending to something in the environment.

Person would listen to a lecture or presentation about a structural model related to human behavior.

Responding

Showing some new behaviors as a result of experience. To act or comply; to perform an act willingly and to obtain satisfaction from it.

The individual would answer questions about the model or might rewrite lecture notes the next day.

Valuing

Showing some definite involvement or commitment. To accept, prefer or commit oneself because of its perceived worth or value; to appreciate; defend; judge; praise; volunteer

The individual might begin to think how education may be modified to take advantage of some of the concepts presented in the model and perhaps generate a set of lessons using some of the concepts presented

Organization

Integrating a new value into one’s general set of values, giving it some ranking among one’s general priorities. To compare, relate and synthesize values into one’s own value system; question; dispute.

This is the level at which a person would begin to make long-range commitments to arranging his or her instruction and assessment relative to the model

Characterization by Value

Acting consistently with the new value. To integrate values or value systems into one’s style or philosophy of life.

At this highest level, a person would be firmly committed to utilizing the model to develop, select, or arrange instruction and would become known for that action.

Using behavioral terms, samples of performances are constructed that will provide evidence that the students have achieved the purpose. 

For example

Original objective:
“Upon completion of tasks in the auto repair shop, replenish supplies to maintain the stock levels specified in the shop stock handbook.”

Amended to include an affective goal:
“Upon completion of tasks in the auto repair shop, replenish supplies to maintain the stock levels specified in the shop stock handbook without supervision”.  

If learners meet this objective "without supervision," no one will watch them, pressure them, or remind them to replenish supplies; they must now complete this task on their own. If learners meet such an objective, they are functioning at the Responding level of attitude, or perhaps at an even higher level.

Other goal statements include:

    • Voluntarily takes action to…
    • Without being told to do…
    • Without promise of reward…
    • Without threat of punishment…
    • In spite of social pressure to do otherwise…
    • Initiates on his or her own…

Notice the last three of these phrases. If learners undertake an activity in their own time, initiate something on their own, or do something in spite of social pressure to do otherwise, they are displaying behavior at the Valuing level of the taxonomy (and perhaps higher).

Short courses and brief exposure to material can be expected to change attitudes only in small ways, and only at the lower affective levels (receiving, responding, and, possibly, valuing).

Changes at the higher affective levels (valuing, organization, and characterization) require much longer exposures – an entire course rather than a lesson, or a program of instruction: these are more difficult to evaluate and  measure, typically at Kirkpatrick Level Three. We cannot be sure a particular attitude characterizes a person if the only measure or index used is a formative or summative assessment.

More…

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M-Learning via the iPhone 3 – some approaches and technologies

February 20, 2009 by Michael Hanley · 1 Comment · e-learning, elearning, iPhone, learning on demand, m-learning, mobile device, online learning, technology in education, use of elearning, video podcast

After yesterday’s excursion into science fiction to demonstrate that the concept, if not the reality of mobile learning (m-learning) has been around for a good part of the last century, today’s post returns to the altogether more prosaic task of identifying the characteristics of m-learning. I think that the best way to approach this is to characterize m-learning’s parent domain, e-learning.

So, let me remind you of my favorite definition of the characteristics of e-learning and consider if they also apply to m-learning. In hiselTagCloud influential 2001 text E-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age, Marc J Rosenberg argues that e-learning is based on three fundamental criteria (pp.8-29):

  1. E-learning is networked making it capable of updating, storage and retrieval, distribution and sharing of instruction or information. So important is this criteria that Rosenberg describes it as fast becoming an “absolute requirement” [his italics] of e-learning.
  2. It is delivered to the end-user via a computer using standard internet technology so that even though the definition of what a standard technology is may evolve as the internet matures, e-learning will be deliverable on that channel
  3. It focuses on the broadest view of learning: learning that goes beyond “e-training” (Beyond E-Learning, 2006, p.11). E-learning is at the core of the “smart enterprise – a high-performing organization that allows knowledge and capabilities, enabled by technology, to grow and flow freely across departmental geographical or hierarchical boundaries, where it is shared and made actionable for the use and benefit of all” (2006, p.39).

A discussion on m-learning then, must in part be dedicated to the technologies underpinning the broader e-learning domain. In this context, ‘mobile’ generally means portable and personal, like a mobile phone or media player. While ‘mobile device’ typically means PDAs and digital mobile phones, it might more generally be taken to mean any device that is

small, autonomous and unobtrusive enough to accompany people in every moment in their every-day life, and that can be used for some form of learning, for example an MP3 player.

(Kineo and UFI/Learndirect Mobile Learning Reviewed. p.5)

Many examples of learning with mobile technologies fit in to this description, and broadly speaking they all align to the “absolute requirement” to receive and transmit digital voice and data communication over a network – though not necessarily wirelessly, as we shall see).

According to a number of sources including Gartner (M-Learning Opportunities and Applications) and  Kineo & UFI/Learndirect (Mobile Learning Reviewed) mobile handsets are, and will be the “dominant m-learning devices for some time: there were more than 1.2 billion shipped in 2008” (Gartner, p.6). There are four basic categories of devices:

  1. ‘Smartphones’ or Converged Media Devices (CMDs) have an identifiable operating system, are Web-capable and support installable applications, such as PDF and content readers. They are able to render a wide range of digital data types so they can act as sophisticated m-learning platforms.
  2. Enhanced phones don’t have an open operating system but have some audio, video and Web capability, and typically support simpler installable applications using programming tools such as Java Platform, Micro Edition (Java ME).
  3. Basic phones are low-cost devices that can support voice and text messaging
  4. Non-telephony mobile devices are audio/MP3 players and video-enabled media players, the dominant product in both markets belonging to the Apple iPod family of players.
  5. Hand-held games consoles are lightweight, portable devices include in-built screens, games controls and speakers. The dominant manufacturers include Nintendo (DS) Sony (PSP) and Nokia (N-Gage).

In 2008, CMDs were a growing minority, comprising approximately 15% of all devices shipped globally; enhanced phones made up a little more than 60%, and the remainder were basic phones. Of the potential mobile learning devices, mobile phones are clearly the most commonplace. According to a recent report by Strategy Analytics (cited in Mobile Learning Reviewed, p.4), there are 1.5 billion mobile phones on earth, with 10% year-over-year adoption expected through 2008. In 2005 the Financial Times reported that UK mobile phone penetration was about 86% of the adult population. By 2006, the penetration rate for Western Europe was reported as 100%, which means there was a mobile phone for every person in the population.

The media player market is one of the biggest IT success stories in recent years. The market 300px-IPod_Line leader is Apple’s iPod. Since 2001, Apple has sold over 100 million iPods worldwide. Many other players compete in the personal media player marketplace including Archos, Sony, iRiver, Creative, and Microsoft. While functionality varies according to manufacturer and brand, we can say that a media player is a portable mass storage device that allows content to be downloaded and used offline. Music storage is obviously their primary use, but their mobility and storage capacity makes them ideal mobile learning devices. A significant increase in the audio- and video podcast download market demonstrates that consumers have extended the potential of these devices beyond their intended capacity as über Walkmans.

Kineo (p.6) assert that:

The commercial market for MP3 downloads is highly developed, though monetizing non-music formats (e.g. podcasts and vodcasts) has proved more challenging. In effect the ‘book on tape’ market has jumped formats to become the commercial podcast market via iTunes and Audible.
The ease of providing podcasts and vodcasts for download has a potential cost advantage, as they can be downloaded for free (assuming the user is on a fixed price broadband line), unlike download or access to learning content via a mobile phone or CMD. Thus, mobile devices used for learning do not require continuous connection. Also, once on the iPod, learning content does not require internet connection for it to be accessed, so there need be no ongoing costs of access after initial download.

Given the almost ubiquitous nature of these devices, it’s not surprising that educators and organizations with an interest in distributing electronic learning content are now considering the potential for these devices to support a previously unavailable channel to communicate and transfer knowledge to learners.

More…

________________________

References:

Jones, N. (2008) M-Learning Opportunities and Applications. ID Number: G00163293 Gartner Research [Internet] Available from: http://www.gartner.com (Subscription or purchase required) Accessed 17 February 2009

Kineo and UFI/Learndirect (2009) Mobile Learning Reviewed. [Internet] Available from: http://www.kineo.com/documents/Mobile_learning_reviewed_final.pdf Accessed 17th February 2009

Rosenberg, M. J. (2001) e-Learning: Strategies for Delivering Knowledge in the Digital Age London: McGraw-Hill.

Rosenberg, M. J. (2006) Beyond e-Learning. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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No Flash on the iPhone? I’m cool with that.

February 12, 2009 by Michael Hanley · 4 Comments · e-learning, elearning content, flash, iPhone, ireland, m-learning, online learning, online presentation tool, podcasts

Everyone wants Flash on the iPhone.

Today I had a moment of clarity. I realized there will never be the facility to view Flash-based content on my iPhone. Probably. And you know what? I’m cool with that.

I have been an Apple 3G iPhone owner and user since the model was released here in Ireland in mid-2008. Since I have had the device, I’ve come to rely on it to manage my e-mail accounts, utilize my time, play music, video, take notes (text and audio), and generally be more productive .

I’ve Twittered, Quittered, Facebooked, YouTubed and blogged. 

But for me, the inability to deliver Flash-based interactive e-learning applications on the device has been a significant source of frustration for me for all the time I have used my iPhone.

Oh, the potential that’s there, I said. What a waste, I lamented. Learning “on-the-go” – real just-in-time information-transfer just-out-of-reach, I railed, much like Lear on the heath. All that content, ready to be refactored into a dinky miniaturized format for all my learners: not to be, alas and alack.

More than anything else, my frustration was based upon a positive reading of a very ambiguous statement by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, who, when discussing the difficulties in bringing Adobe’s most well distributed product to the iPhone said:

It’s a hard technical challenge, and that’s part of the reason Apple and Adobe are collaborating… The ball is in our court. The onus is on us to deliver.*

The implication of this – and other – public utterances by the Adobe Powers That Be is that Apple and Adobe are “collaborating” on developing a Flash player for the iPhone. Logical conclusion: it’s just a matter of time before Flash appears in the iTunes App Store, ready to go.

fake_iPhone_eL 

Not on the jPhone as a Flash movie anytime soon

However, if you believe Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ comments on the popular platform, it won’t be on the iPhone any time soon.

According to Wired, Steve Jobs considers that Flash is “too slow” for the iPhone, and Flash Lite is too limited. Don’t forget that the iPhone OS is a tightly-curated closed platform: Apple call the shots. As Nullriver found out in August 2008 for example, the proprietors have no qualms about pulling iPhone Apps that they deem to extend the functionality of their hardware and software beyond what they (Apple) can control.

Wired again:

Flash does have a reputation for slow performance compared to the other popular web-embeddable language, Java. Traditionally, the best flash presentations are those coded by experts with a keen awareness of its limits—Apple wisely fears iPhones being hammered by the Internet’s inexhaustible supply of badly-constructed Flash garbage.

There is a convergence of historical, cultural and practical considerations to be accounted for:

  1. After many years closely working with Apple (when the Mac was the graphics & DTP  creatives’ / digital media producers’ computer of choice), Adobe Systems grew initially on Apple’s support of Postscript, and later of programs like PhotoShop, Illustrator and Premiere. It can be said that Adobe is taking that relationship for granted. Adobe did not update its Mac software for more than a year after Apple switched to Intel processors in 2007. This must have hit Apple’s revenue pretty hard, as potential users stuck to their PowerPC Macs until they could acquire the compatible Adobe software
  2. Traditionally, Flash has performed badly on Macs. Add to that the aforementioned “badly-constructed Flash garbage.”
  3. The iPhone is not a powerful computer: it is a Web-enabled Portable Digital Assistant (PDA). I would suggest that in many consumers’ minds that to be able to surf the internet in a full-featured Safari browser on the iPhone means that it’s a “real” computer. Apple surely want to manage users’ expectations.
  4. Apple is very aware of these problems. The company went as far as to include a clause in its iPhone developers’ Terms of Service agreement (.PDF) that prohibits Flash from appearing on the iPhone:

    No interpreted code may be downloaded and used in an Application except for code that is interpreted and run by Apple’s Published APIs and built-in interpreter(s).

The outcome of these (and other) factors is that Safari for iPhone is unable to display a significant portion of the content on the internet. Flash games aren’t supported, videos can’t be streamed from popular television and movie sites like Hulu and the BBC iPlayer, and websites that use Flash to render content or navigation won’t work on the iPhone.

Next time: Implications for m-learning. Will mobile e-learning suffer as a result of this scenario?

______________

References:

*Source: Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

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Exciting new online comms and collaboration tools from Adobe

June 6, 2008 by Michael Hanley · Comments Off · acrobat.com, adobe connect, asynchronous, buzzword, e-learning, online learning, read/write web, shareable content object, synchronous, web 2.0, web-based learning

I had planned today to continue my series on organizational learning and e-learning ecosystems, but I have become aware of an interesting new hosted productivity and collaboration suite from Adobe called Acrobat.com, so I thought I’d discuss that today. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is known to respond with the acronym “IMFA” (It’s My Airline) when others disagree with his decisions, so in the same spirit, IMFB.

Now read on…

Aligning with their stated aim to become a major force in so-called webtop software, Adobe released two new products on Monday: Acrobat.com and Acrobat 9. Product manager Erik Larson has stated that Acrobat.com is another big step towards bringing more desktop-like experiences to the Web.

It is [Adobe's] intent to blur a lot of the lines of the past.


Acrobat.com is a combination of three online services:

  • Adobe ConnectNow (a “lite” version of Acrobat Connect 7 for web conferencing and desktop collaboration)
  • Adobe Buzzword (and online word processor)
  • Adobe Share (online file sharing)

In my view, this represents a serious attempt by Adobe to compete with many of Google’s Web 2.0 tools like Google Docs, YouTube and Picasa, as well as solutions like Microsoft Office Live Workspace, WebEx, and GoTo Meeting, usually associated with organizational collaboration.

Buzzword
Buzzword is the default word processor in the suite. it enables multiple collaborators to edit and comment documents. As well as providing a pretty nice WYSIWYG editor, tabs along the bottom of the UI represent the people who have accessed the document most recently, as well as their status (author, reviewer, etc.).

Uniquely for a web-based word processor, Buzzword paginates documents, supports a range of fonts, and lets you generate a pretty good equivalent to a PDF document. However, this is still in beta, so you will likely encounter some frustrations if you are used to creating documents in a desktop environment (i.e. during cut-and-paste operations) and there is no easy way to export a document to a blog or other Web publishing system other than via the previously mentioned cut-and-paste.

However, I have found this to be the case in similar apps such as Windows Live Writer (which I’m using to create this post); the software is still buggy – I’m happy to live with this in a beta app, though some might not be.

Adobe Share
This is a file-sharing application that focuses on document sharing.
You get one gigabyte of free storage, and it enables you to embed a Flash preview of your documents into any Web page (quite similar to FlashPaper). Adobe say that this enables anyone to download and print a PDF of the file (though I have yet to test this myself). I guess that you could describe this tool as ‘Flickr on steroids’, given Share’s facility to make available a range of document types in an environment that those familiar with that tool can easily appreciate.

ConnectNow
I love ConnectNow. I’ve long been an advocate of online communication and collaboration tools as a powerful solution to the challenges organizations face, particularly if employees work in distributed teams, as well as for hosting training and non-formal learning interventions. I have to declare an interest here: the organization I work for relies heavily on Adobe Connect Pro (currently version 6) for training and informational purposes and I think that it’s a great system, not least because it uses the Flash plug-in, so no large player downloads or quirky clients to be installed.


Even in it’s cut-down form, making this functionality publicly available is going to be very popular (no more excuses not to talk to the relations in New Zealand!).
ConnectNow allows up to three people have free online meetings, with

  • screen sharing
  • desktop video
  • voice conferencing
  • IM-type chat
  • white-boarding

Note that significant portions of Connect’s functionality have been removed, including the recording facility, as well as the asynchronous meeting playback facility. You can also forget about hosting your on-demand e-learning content on the system, because that’s been excised too, though that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the tool for synchronous learning, such as small-group online mentoring and so on.

Interestingly, ConnectNow (kind of) replicates Connect Pro’s ability to integrate with telephone conferencing system via a fee-based toll line (currently only available in some territories like the US, UK, Germany etc). Now that the Flex-based UI uses Adobe Flash 9 rather than Flash 6, the screen looks great – a small thing, but it’s attractiveness will certainly enhance users’ enjoyment of the product.

Other commentators have suggested that the business model is clearly pay-for-what-you-use:

while right now the service is just a free beta, restrictions on things like file space and number of users will presumably be addressed by monthly subscriptions – moving Adobe from a licensor of desktop software to a web-based software-as-a-service company. We’ve already seen that with Photoshop Express, and with Acrobat.com, Adobe now has all of their major applications available in a Web-based version too.

I would assert that while this may be the plan at the moment, the ubiquity of other free-to-use applications (not to mention the competition in this increasingly hot marketspace) will force Adobe to either make these tools available gratis or include so many extra features to entice paying users that Acrobat.com will becomes a professional-level hosted solution, which presumably is not the consumer market that Adobe are attempting to dominate.

[Read more →]

Exciting new online comms and collaboration tools from Adobe

June 6, 2008 by Michael Hanley · 1 Comment · acrobat.com, adobe connect, asynchronous, buzzword, e-learning, online learning, read/write web, shareable content object, synchronous, web 2.0, web-based learning

I had planned today to continue my series on organizational learning and e-learning ecosystems, but I have become aware of an interesting new hosted productivity and collaboration suite from Adobe called Acrobat.com, so I thought I’d discuss that today. Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is known to respond with the acronym “IMFA” (It’s My Airline) when others disagree with his decisions, so in the same spirit, IMFB.

Now read on…

Aligning with their stated aim to become a major force in so-called webtop software, Adobe released two new products on Monday: Acrobat.com and Acrobat 9. Product manager Erik Larson has stated that Acrobat.com is another big step towards bringing more desktop-like experiences to the Web.

It is [Adobe's] intent to blur a lot of the lines of the past.


Acrobat.com is a combination of three online services:

  • Adobe ConnectNow (a “lite” version of Acrobat Connect 7 for web conferencing and desktop collaboration)
  • Adobe Buzzword (and online word processor)
  • Adobe Share (online file sharing)

In my view, this represents a serious attempt by Adobe to compete with many of Google’s Web 2.0 tools like Google Docs, YouTube and Picasa, as well as solutions like Microsoft Office Live Workspace, WebEx, and GoTo Meeting, usually associated with organizational collaboration.

Buzzword
Buzzword is the default word processor in the suite. it enables multiple collaborators to edit and comment documents. As well as providing a pretty nice WYSIWYG editor, tabs along the bottom of the UI represent the people who have accessed the document most recently, as well as their status (author, reviewer, etc.).

Uniquely for a web-based word processor, Buzzword paginates documents, supports a range of fonts, and lets you generate a pretty good equivalent to a PDF document. However, this is still in beta, so you will likely encounter some frustrations if you are used to creating documents in a desktop environment (i.e. during cut-and-paste operations) and there is no easy way to export a document to a blog or other Web publishing system other than via the previously mentioned cut-and-paste.

However, I have found this to be the case in similar apps such as Windows Live Writer (which I’m using to create this post); the software is still buggy – I’m happy to live with this in a beta app, though some might not be.

Adobe Share
This is a file-sharing application that focuses on document sharing.
You get one gigabyte of free storage, and it enables you to embed a Flash preview of your documents into any Web page (quite similar to FlashPaper). Adobe say that this enables anyone to download and print a PDF of the file (though I have yet to test this myself). I guess that you could describe this tool as ‘Flickr on steroids’, given Share’s facility to make available a range of document types in an environment that those familiar with that tool can easily appreciate.

ConnectNow
I love ConnectNow. I’ve long been an advocate of online communication and collaboration tools as a powerful solution to the challenges organizations face, particularly if employees work in distributed teams, as well as for hosting training and non-formal learning interventions. I have to declare an interest here: the organization I work for relies heavily on Adobe Connect Pro (currently version 6) for training and informational purposes and I think that it’s a great system, not least because it uses the Flash plug-in, so no large player downloads or quirky clients to be installed.


Even in it’s cut-down form, making this functionality publicly available is going to be very popular (no more excuses not to talk to the relations in New Zealand!).
ConnectNow allows up to three people have free online meetings, with

  • screen sharing
  • desktop video
  • voice conferencing
  • IM-type chat
  • white-boarding

Note that significant portions of Connect’s functionality have been removed, including the recording facility, as well as the asynchronous meeting playback facility. You can also forget about hosting your on-demand e-learning content on the system, because that’s been excised too, though that doesn’t mean that you can’t use the tool for synchronous learning, such as small-group online mentoring and so on.

Interestingly, ConnectNow (kind of) replicates Connect Pro’s ability to integrate with telephone conferencing system via a fee-based toll line (currently only available in some territories like the US, UK, Germany etc). Now that the Flex-based UI uses Adobe Flash 9 rather than Flash 6, the screen looks great – a small thing, but it’s attractiveness will certainly enhance users’ enjoyment of the product.

Other commentators have suggested that the business model is clearly pay-for-what-you-use:

while right now the service is just a free beta, restrictions on things like file space and number of users will presumably be addressed by monthly subscriptions – moving Adobe from a licensor of desktop software to a web-based software-as-a-service company. We’ve already seen that with Photoshop Express, and with Acrobat.com, Adobe now has all of their major applications available in a Web-based version too.

I would assert that while this may be the plan at the moment, the ubiquity of other free-to-use applications (not to mention the competition in this increasingly hot marketspace) will force Adobe to either make these tools available gratis or include so many extra features to entice paying users that Acrobat.com will becomes a professional-level hosted solution, which presumably is not the consumer market that Adobe are attempting to dominate.

[Read more →]