Conference Close-up: Silke Fleischer on Design Strategies for Mobile Devices

Posted by Joan Phaup

Mobile assessment is high on the list of topics we’ll be discussing at the Questionmark Users Conference March 15 -18. Silke Fleischer, a co-founder of ATIV Software, will show attendees how to create materials that work well on mobile devices and manage their limitations during her talk on Getting the Most from a Small Screen: Design strategies for mobile devices.

Silke Fleischer

Silke has been a featured speaker at several national and international conferences of organizations such as the eLearning Guild and ASTD, and we’re very pleased she’ll be joining us in Los Angeles. I spoke with her recently about her work and her plans for presenting at the conference:

Q:   Could you tell me about your work at ATIV software?
A: We develop mobile applications for events and eLearning. Our core EventPilot application is a support system for conferences, events and meetings, and we are working on a mobile course app that helps training departments reduce printing costs for instructor-led training. We also do custom mobile development. In case you are wondering about how we got our company name, it stands for innovATIVe, creATIVe, alternATIVe!

Q: What trends are you seeing in mobile learning and assessment?
A: There are more than 700,000 smartphones sold per day, and learning is very convenient on them. More and more standard eLearning content is now being made available and optimized for mobile devices, especially with the technology getting better and screen resolutions larger. That’s not to say that classroom training is going away! You have to have the face-to-face interaction. I think we will see a marriage between mobile and the classroom.

One interesting trend is the use of mobile delivery within Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to cut printing and reduce budgets for handouts and course materials. Our upcoming course app, for instance, allows learners to log in and download all course-related PowerPoint presentations on an iPad and take notes directly on the device to a particular slide. When the course is over, they can take their assessment using Questionmark’s iPad App and also send themselves an email with notes and marked items for easy reference about what they have learned. Also, you can update content on the fly and integrate social aspects such as your training blog or company messaging system. This approach can save thousands of dollars in printing costs for large organizations over the year.

Q: What are the key elements that need to be considered in designing and implementing mobile assessment?
A: Mobile devices are unlike desktop computers or laptops. The smaller screen, for example, limits some types of training and assessments. You also have to consider software and hardware. On the software side, you might have to find new ways of creating interactive content if there is no Flash player available  When it comes to hardware, even though devices are very fast these days, their performance is still dependent on the processors and on memory limitations, so you will want to invest in good programmers. Wifi and cell reception requirements should be analyzed, and you can also look at native versus hybrid versus web apps. The amazing new capabilities outweigh the limitations. Today’s mobile devices make new training paradigms possible and enable instructional designers to use motion sensing and location-based services, cameras and advanced touch screens.

Q: What will you be sharing during your presentation at the Questionmark Users Conference?
A: Since mobile devices have such a small screens we will be talking about design and development approaches. I’ll be offering some basic guidelines to help attendees get started with small screen design and content presentation. An important aspect of this will be the fact that the screens aren’t only used for displaying content, but also for navigation with your fingers. I’ll be sharing some workarounds that will help people overcome the challenges presented by small screens.

Q: What are you looking forward to at the conference?
A: I’m eager to learn about other trends in learning and assessments, which I think will help me get inspired with new ideas for 2011. And of course it will be great to network with others  and share ideas. I’m really excited about going to the conference!

We’re looking forward to the conference, too, and hope you will check out the program and register soon!

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