Posted in Uncategorized

It’s Time to Mobilize Learning–Just Ask RJ Jacquez

Anyone who knows me and has been with this blog for the long haul knows that I really like what m-learning is all about. Even though I haven’t been able to steer my career in that direction as much as I’d like (or at least, not yet), I’ve always been a big advocate for m-learning and what it can accomplish.  For a while now, I’ve been a great follower of RJ Jacquez, and while he and I don’t talk as much as we used to online anymore, I still consider him my number one mentor on m-learning.  He’s always been a very early supporter of the TechCommGeekMom cause!

RJ recently gave a keynote speech for the 2013 ASTD Houston Conference.  While I would have loved to have attended this event, especially for RJ’s keynote address, I wasn’t able to go. (I do have to work, and I went to the 2013 STC Summit, after all!)  For that reason, I’m so glad that RJ shared his SlideShare file for the keynote address online.

His talk was called, “The Time to Mobilize Learning is Now!” Here is his SlideShare slideshow:

RJ has been a prominent leader in promoting mobile, not just m-learning, for a while now, and even without his accompanying talk to go along with the slides, you can get a fairly clear idea of where he’s going with this. Mobile is change, and in so many ways, we have already started to embrace the changes. We need to adapt in order to move forward. His demonstration of the evolution of how we have come to the point of using mobile as prolifically as we do now, and of all the many benefits of using mobile seem fairly clear from this slideshow.

I’m still a big believer in mobile, and this slideshow reminded me of this. It helped to reinforce again my belief that mobile is an important part of our integrated technology going forward. If we don’t adapt, we fall behind, not just with m-learning–which seems to be leading the way, but also with mobile content itself.

Nice job as always, RJ!

Posted in Uncategorized

Flash Technology gone in a mobile….no, wait–that’s not quite right…

In the mobile technology warsit’s been a war between the technology of Adobe Flash versus HTML 5. This has been a long going–at least in Internet years–battle royale that has been going on for a while, but it appears that a break has finally happened.

Recently, Adobe made the decision to end the support of Adobe Flash in Google’s latest Android OS, aka “Jelly Bean.” The significance of this is huge.  To some, this is a surprise. To others, it is not.

Flash has been the driving force of web animation for a couple decades now on many websites globally. It is a huge part of Adobe’s repertoire, and yet… Flash has had a difficult time making it into the mobile realm.  Just in the desktop/laptop realm, a Flash player can be rather unwieldy. There seemed to be only one flavor of Flash made for 32-bit machines, and not for 64-bit machines (like my own) which are becoming more commonplace.  Flash programming is an art unto itself as well. As much as many employers want people to have Flash backgrounds as technical communicators, I’ve also been told by developers to not bother learning it unless I really was dying to know, because it was rather complex even for the experienced developer to use, and developing Flash was time consuming.

This was all brought to the forefront about two years ago by the late Steve Jobs who said that Flash would not last, and that HTML5 was the future. He believed this so much that all of Apple’s new mobile products supported HTML5 from the get-go, but not Flash.  Aaron Silvers reminded me of this when he posted this article from Business InsiderSTEVE JOBS WINS: Adobe’s Ditching Flash, today on Twitter. It’s been a huge deal as iPhones and iPads proliferated with HTML5-friendly browsers, and didn’t support Flash, while other browsers for other tablets, like the Kindle, Nook and other Android-based tablets and phones did.

Adobe’s had a hard time with this, as far as I could see. Just for the record, I love Apple products, but I also love my Adobe products as well, so it’s been a tough debate to follow. I actually wrote a case study about it just several months ago about it, entitled, A Case Study: HTML 5 versus Flash, which discussed the history of this debate and what actions I saw Adobe–as a company–trying to make to work within this new environment that was pushing HTML5. At the time of the writing, Steve Jobs had just passed–literally within days of when I wrote my first draft and final draft of the paper–and so much was out in the media about the great Steve Jobs and how he was the mastermind that he was. I still love Steve Jobs, but after all, he was still human and fallible,  so I wanted to show how Adobe countered his attacks against Flash. In the end, the conclusion at the time was that HTML5 was the future, but it wasn’t completely NOW (or at that moment). HTML5 needed more development, and in the meantime, Adobe would adjust with the HTML5 revolution with its work on the Adobe Edge product and bringing that capability to its development products, but in the meantime, Flash was still working on most of the machines in the world, and there was no reason to stop working on that as well.

The way I saw it, Adobe’s point was that you don’t just abandon a long standing technology that’s worked so well overnight, just because the next best thing is starting to come along. It’s like abandoning DVDs just because Blu-Ray disks are out. There has to be some sort of legacy transition, and until HTML5 was more mature and used by those other than the developers at Apple, it didn’t make sense to abandon Flash altogether. But in the meantime, time needed to be taken to start working with the new medium and figure out the best way to move forward.

Fast forward to now, about six to eight months after I wrote the case study above. Mobile technology continues to explode on the market, and the race is on to be the dominant technological mobile device with new tablets and smartphones being introduced.  RJ Jacquez posted this article that came out today on Twitter: Adobe: Web standards match 80 percent of Flash features. Arno Gourdol, Adobe’s senior director of Web platform and authoring, was quoted at the Google I/O show, referring to HTML5’s capabilities at this stage, “I think it’s close to 80 percent.”  Seeing the writing on the wall, it’s obvious, after reading the rest of the article, that Adobe has been making efforts to keep up with HTML5, and make forward progress on using the web standard. Adobe’s not quite there either in keeping up, but it seems that it’s starting to make significant progress in this direction.

So, where does this leave us in the mobile learning world? As I see it, this is another means towards single-sourcing for learning. Flash has been good, there is no doubt. Some of the most interactive e-learning and m-learning sites (depending on your device’s capabilities) have been Flash driven, and so much has been Flash driven for years that Flash capabilities and interactivity are expected. In speaking with my e-learning developer husband about the topic, he said that Flash, while complicated at times, was easier to develop than HTML5, because HTML5 depended not only on new HTML5 coding, but also javascript and jquery much more than before to have content play the same way–or at least similarly–to Flash. From the sounds of things, those similarities are getting closer and closer. How soon will HTML5 be a true standard in the same way as standard HTML has been all these years? Probably sooner than later, but I see it as a big step towards that single-sourcing solution that will help eliminate the idea of problems with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). No one will have to worry whether something will work on an Android, Windows or iOS device. It will just work because they all use HTML5.

This is an important issue to follow, because it’s not the mobile technological devices that need to be watched as much as how they will be programmed and used. Flash isn’t gone yet, but seeing what will happen with it, and where and how HTML5 progresses will be a hot issue for some time to come–so keep on top of this!

Posted in Uncategorized

m-Learning and Single-Sourcing Aren’t The End of the World

Does anyone remember all the hype about 13 years ago about how life as we knew it was going to be destroyed merely by the fact that most of the computing machines running around the world weren’t programmed to go beyond the year 2000 because it would reset itself to start back at 1900 again? Do you remember the mad rush to make everything “Y2K” compliant?” I do, and remember being in the thick of it. I even remember secretly bracing myself mentally, just in case Armageddon did happened. Nowadays, people are thinking about this supposed Apocalypse that will happen on December 21, 2012– about 8 months from now. Is it going to happen? And what does this have to do with m-learning and single-sourcing?

Here’s my take on it, having lived through that time from an IT perspective: nothing happened, and nothing will happen. Well, nothing catastrophic happened or will happen. If anything, the Y2K crisis brought to the world’s attention (or at least the IT world’s attention) that details are important when creating and developing software and web development. Y2K made the IT world take notice that it had to get its act together better, and if the world needed reliable, safe, easy-to-use products, then that attention to detail has to be put in from the beginning. The same thing happened with the tragedy of the attack of the US on September 11th, 2001. There was a realization that email and other digital means of communication could be used to circumvent security, and it caught everyone’s attention enough that the IT world had to step it up.

Think about how many strides have been made in since that 2000-2001 time period in the digital world! Smartphones and tablets were developed and constructed over this decade or so, and now we are a much more mobile society than before. I mean, seriously, in 2001, could you imagine yourself walking around with a tablet in your messenger bag just to read a book, do your email on the go, write papers, watch a movie, have video chats with friends around the world, or just to instant message/text friends that quickly?

When I had my first cell phone around the time of the turn of the century, it could do simple SMS messages and make phone calls, but nothing more. My iPhone is WAY more sophisticated than even my first desktop! We’ve actually gone beyond the imagination of what the Dick Tracy wristwatches of yesteryear intended to do– and then some!

We are in a really critical time in the development of the digital world right now. It’s as if nothing is impossible, especially with the huge chances that made us think about all those details around us. But that’s also the point– we have to make sure that we actually pay attention and heed the warnings of the past to make sure that all those details are included.

This brings me to m-learning. Right now, we are in a very exciting time with m-learning due to the great strides that have been made with technology in recent years. We have huge opportunities to reinvent the way things are done in e-learning on mobile devices, mostly because the medium is different than anything we’ve had before. It’s not just putting up pages and pages of content, but reformatting and rewriting to make it accessible to a wider audience. Cloud technology and wireless technology makes m-learning not only something that is portable due to device size, but accessible anywhere, anytime. Think about it– it’s a big game changer.

This brings me to the idea of single-sourcing and m-learning. It’s something that’s been on my mind lately, because as I try to learn more and more about m-learning and getting involved in m-learning, I realize that flexibility is something I need. In other words, while I am attached to my Apple products for my digital mobility, there are others who are strong devotees of Android products and there will be those who will be signing the praises of the Windows 8 mobile system soon enough. In the end, it’s three of a few of the different OS systems that will need to be able to receive the same information, but be able to communicate to each other clearly and cleanly to each other as well.

Many years ago, the Portable Document Format or PDF was invented by Adobe with the intention of inventing a common format that any OS system could read with the proper viewing tool. Today, PDFs are still used, and additional single-sourcing formats such as MP4 and MP3 for video and audio and ePub for publications are coming to the forefront. Heck, even as we speak, Flash is starting to slowly retreat in favor of a more common HTML5 format, even if all browsers and devices are not completely on board with that. I attended a great seminar the other day put out by Adobe and hosted by Maxwell Hoffman about how to use the Technical Communicator Suite–especially, in this case, RoboHelp 9 to help create ePubs for mobile devices like tablets. The main idea behind this seminar was to help users of Adobe’s Tech Comm Suite see how they could get on-board with this idea of single-sourcing through the creation of e-Pubs using the TC Suite.  Even though I don’t really know how to use RoboHelp at all yet, it was evident that this was a hot topic from the way it was presented and the questions being asked. I felt empowered to get started on trying to master this piece of software, because Maxwell made it look so easy to do, and his emphasis was not only on any particular device, but rather that this tool would be good to help develop for just about any device. Understanding how to create ePubs is an excellent stepping stone to bigger and better things! I’m sure that other companies are also realizing that single-sourcing is the way to go to connect with as many users as possible.

m-Learning is about reaching as many learners as possible in a way that’s user-friendly as well as compatible with the technology, while still being engaging. There are so many devices out there, that it’s really important that programmers and developers, as well as instructional designers and other technical communicators really take the time to care about those details so that we can truly have single-sourcing. Even just between my iPad and iPhone, I don’t always feel that apps available have the same functionality as they do on my laptop, and vice versa. Going between devices–whether mobile or stationary–should be seamless. It’s been mentioned that some companies are already on the right track with this thinking, such as Kindle. You can open up a book at one spot on your phone, then switch to where you left off on your Kindle device, then pick up again where you left off on your laptop. Much of this is done through the cloud and wireless connections. This is definitely the right idea, and going in the right direction. For me, it’s even the functionality. My Twitter doesn’t work the same way between my iDevices and my laptop, and that’s not right.  It should work the same exact way on all my devices, and Android users should have the same experience as I do. This is a really important concept for m-learning. You want to make sure that the deliverable presented is the same for everyone who comes to a course, and that’s a tricky thing to do right now.  This is why discussing and creating new standards for m-learning are so crucial. The single-source perspective is truly needed in e-learning and m-learning universally, so that the same quality of content is delivered to ALL universally.

So will I be jittering in my boots when December 21st rolls around? I don’t think so (unless there’s news of an asteroid bigger than the moon is hurtling directly towards us). If anything, I’m thinking that December 21st will be a day when it will start a new age of enlightment, and m-learning and single-sourcing will be a big part of that. We are already on our way, but perhaps there will be something on that day that will be a big boost towards a positive path.

www.startrek.com

Maybe that day will be as monumental as First Contact Day.