Delivering Mobile Learning Nuggets on the iPod Touch / iPhone

Wow a big pallet of 400 iPods Touches arrived in my office today...pretty exciting to get that delivery...but the real exciting thing is the iPod Touch Pilot program we will be running...let me fill you in on some of the basic concepts

Why iPod Touch?

The new iPod Touch looks just like the new iPhone only slightly thinner and without the phone and email component. So it has all the cool usability features of the iPhone and can hold up to 10 hours of video
Contains Safari browser...the same browser engine that is on the Mac Desktop..this gives many options for real web content ( not baby content such as WAP or Mobile PDA's)..relatively full featured..sans java and flash support..though it does support Javascript, natve PDF. Ajax. CSS3.X...etc...hey did I mention the iPods I received were 8GB...enough to hold 10 hours of video!

The real killer component that makes this iPod really cool and very suitable for SLS Mobile Training Nuggets is the wireless feature.....very cool wireless which will allow us to provide content to employees on the edge with authentication (the iPod Touch has a touch keyboard for data entry into web forms...although it is not geared for entering tons of info....for instance it was not easy to enter in the security key for my home wireless)     

So what is this pilot all about?

What we want to do is to provide iPod Touches to select teams within certain groups such as Field Service, PS, Sales, and SE's.  We will provide targeted training to address specific objectives with each group. Then we can actually measure over time if delivering just in time training in this manner has any impact on performance...for instance for the sales group we can track the sales performance, revenue increase..etc.....for he service resource we can track things like closure rates, come back rates, customer get the point.

Examples of Content ( I would load more ..but the limit on upload is 20MB..)

Virtualization at Sun Part 1

Sun Cluster Part 1

3D - Changing a CPU

What is the basic concept of the user experience?

  • We give the selected iPods to the selected pilot groups.
  • The user will access via any available wireless connection (home, library, starbucks, airport etc)
  • User will authenticate into using Sun User ID and Password (entered into safari browser on iPod)
  • recognizes the user agent passed from the browser request and automatically redirects to a web page optimized for display on the iPod/iPhone
  • Users will browse using web page links and search for the content they are interested in...( btw finding content easily and quickly will be critical...luckily we have information experts on our team in the form of our Digital Library & Research team ) ....from a UI perspective it probably will be best for us to just emulate the UI and workflow of iTunes WiFi...Apple has done more research on the effective UI for finding things then we could ever do....and Apple really gets ease of I figure if we can find and by songs we are looking for on iTunes WiFi...surely we can use that model for helping users in finding relevant learning videos and content.
  • User finds what want and we stream the content down to them so they can start using it immediately ..pretty
  • One thing we will be exploring is how we can offer testing over the iPod, I tried out some Perception tests over the iPod..pretty cool but really limited to true/false and multiple choice...its is painful doing any large text input using the touch keypad.

So this is an exciting development that will be very interesting to see what impact it has for Sun and on Learning.

What do you think?

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It sounds like you should be talking to the iTunesU folks over at Apple to host (and password protect) your content.


Posted by Adam Khel on October 20, 2007 at 02:27 PM PDT #

Hi Adam

I actually have been looking at that, reading the iTunes U Admin guide, section 2 clearly outlines a scheme which you authenticate and then dispatch to iTunes via signed token string and digital cert...very interesting...the one issue is that iTunes U is for "educational" organizations...I haver a call scheduled next with Apple to discuss the whole issue....very cool possibilities

Posted by Charles Beckham on October 20, 2007 at 02:45 PM PDT #

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I served as Chief Architect of Sun's Developers Tools and recently took on the challenge of managing the Sun Learning Services global technology architecture and infrastructure as Chief Technologist of Sun Learning Services.


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