Sue of Mobile Technology in TAFE just posted an article of providing learning material on mobile phones and pointed out this article about the options of delivering training material via the mobile phone. While I can see real advantages in be able to deliver training material via mobile devices, so student can have their training material on hand and easily accessible in the workplace. It should not be the only channel at present.
All mobile phones do a couple of things well, the send and receive phone calls and SMSes, from there the similarity ends. While almost all students own a mobile phone, their capabilities will vary from the basic model capable of sending and receiving phone calls and SMSes, to small computers capable of running a number of different programs, surfing the web and connecting to various services through HDSPA, wi-fi and bluetooth. Unless all the students have (or are provided with) a suitable mobile device, you can not provide training material to the selected few who have enough money to be able to purchase the right device and pay the connectivity charges involved. And is some cases select the right provider for their training location, for example at least few months ago, Vodafone and Optus did not provide coverage to Kwinana or Rockingham, which means if you are training/working in one of those industrial areas you better be with Telstra or 3 if you want to access the internet on your mobile device cheaply.
That does not mean you should not provide training material for mobile devices, you just need provide alternative means to access the information. For the examples given in the article:
1. XHTML-MP and CSS
This is the most restrictive option in terms of number and cost of mobile devices capable of accessing the web and the data costs involved (currently in Au anything from $10 for 500Mb to 2.2c a kb). However, it provides the easiest alternative access if a web browser in your phone can view a webpage, so can the web browser of any computer. Using a content management system, the content can easily be provided in both a mobile friendly format and large computer format.
2. a Java and eXtensible Mark-up Language (XML)
I thought this was the best option in term of being accessible on the largest number of mobile devices, as well as the advantage of download once, access many times. Unfortunately the content creation tool Maxdox has disappeared from view. So unless an alternative can be found this is no longer an option. What is really needed is an application that takes the XML and packages the information for both mobile devices and PCs.
3. Mobile movie format
Tools like Lectopia make it so easy to deliver audio and video content in a variety of formats suitable for different mobile devices. So creating the content is not the problem, it is content delivery and storage. Videos can consume bandwidth, which is expensive when you pay by the kb. However using alternative methods it can be a cost effective solution.
While Stuart Smith believes that web enable mobile phones are inexpensive enough in the UK and this is probably true in Australia for a basic web enabled phone. The main issues here are data cost and coverage. I believe that over the next couple of years as data costs and coverage improve, not only will some learning material be delivered to mobile devices, but students will demand more learning materials be delivered to their mobile devices. Time to start thinking about how to better deliver State Library material to mobile phones.