mLearning Pilot (Learning on a Blackberry)

Have been wonderfully busy of late working on a pilot project to design and develop content for use on Blackberry devices. This is our organization’s first foray into mLearning. My involvement had been after much of the legwork was done by a colleague – to first of all, convince the leadership that this is something we must pursue (and not just a “nice to be able to do”). My job was to solve some of the “techy” stuff … And frankly, I think (if I may be so bold) that the partnership between my colleague and me has been terrific … she focusing on the strategic parts of the project by finding other like-minded folks and selling the idea … me tackling the “okay, so how do we make it really happen” part of it.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we are presenting to our organization’s learning leadership … titled, “Learning on a Blackberry.” So please feel free to wish me luck.

First of all, the organization’s standard mobile device is a Blackberry … so we’ve not had to deal with a myriad of devices and a variety of form factors. That’s a blessing in some way.

Our presentation is pretty much a description of the pilot project, our learnings, and the next steps we’re proposing. … pretty standard stuff when it comes to a corporate presentation I suppose.

A critical key to our success is that we decided that we had to be successful with our very first project … and that we needed to eat this elephant one bite at a time. There are so many ideas and possibilities – which folks have been more than happy to raise and ask – yet we’re just starting out and don’t want to set ourselves up for an “oops” moment. So, our first project has been developing a Performance Support Tool for a group who are always on the road and who are now being asked to be more consultative in their client contacts and interactions.

Advantage #1 – we don’t have to worry about integrating this content to the LMS. There’s no need for the users to have to log in, then search, then enroll, then launch … yada yada yada … Just wanted them to access the tool, get at the information they needed, and then exit.

Of course, we’ve tagged this as one of the next steps – gonna have to get this to play nicely with the LMS. But we’re making a case to continue our work (and hopefully get paid for this work, which has been up to now a non-billable project) through this pilot and presentation.

In a nutshell we created this tool in HTML and controlled the layout through style sheets.

Advantage #2 – The content had been given to us in a PowerPoint deck; we didn’t have to hunt this down or create it … nor did we have to go through frustrating validation meetings with SMEs.

We needed to figure out how to transform it to be viewed easily on a Blackberry. What looks good in PPT shown on a computer monitor doesn’t work so well on a 300 pixel wide screen. It was more a matter of rethinking things … going from a horizontal mindset that works well for WBT to a vertical mindset that works better for Blackberry devices.

So, we created the content and have it available for our pilot users. These lucky ones will also be asked to provide us with data on its ease of use as well as their perceptions of its value to their work and a projection of how they see this increasing sales (at least, contributing to an increase in sales). We’ll take this data and make a few tweaks and pull together a pitch to sell the idea to expand our pilot … eventually to get the organization to want us to roll it out to the umteen-thousand Blackberry users out there in the company.

We are preparing for success … and for the additional work to come – which will be very welcomed.

More to come …


About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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6 Responses to mLearning Pilot (Learning on a Blackberry)

  1. Rory, Sound cool. What tools are you using to convert content to a format suitable for BlackBerry? Do you test content on a computer using some emulations software? Please keep us posted. I’m hoping to get a similar project off the ground next year.

  2. Rory says:

    Hi Gary – I’d be happy to and definitely will keep you posted as this project continues. Right now for this pilot we just used HTML (okay – XHTML) with a little CSS … used Dreamweaver because it’s a tool I have and am very familiar with.
    Created some templates with Dreamweaver and copied/pasted text from the PPT deck to them.

    Have learned that things don’t look the same when viewing in IE on my ‘puter and when viewing on a Blackberry. I managed to get my org to shell out the $$ for one for me.
    By uploading to a test server I’m able to view the content and see how it works … pretty much learning how to design/develop in a trial and error way. Not the most elegant – but sure as heck a whole lotta fun.

    I’ll put more details up in future posts.

  3. B.J. Schone says:

    Hi Rory,

    Great summary of your project. Sounds like you’re approaching it carefully and thoughtfully. Keep us updated on your blog with how things go; I’m sure the executives liked it! 🙂

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    HI Rory,

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