A New Option for Mobile ELearning Development
One of the great new features of Articulate Storyline, is the ability to publish specifically for the iPad. As you are most likely fully aware, Mobile Learning (M-Learning) is one of the most talked about topics in the world of ELearning at the moment. With the explosion in popularity of tablet devices, everyone seems to be clamoring to be able to develop ELearning that is accessible via the “Flash Free” world of tablets. One option of course is to try and develop a course that is output in HTML5. In our opinion, HTML5 is still not stable enough to be our first choice when publishing a course (But more on that in a future post). The fine team at Articulate has now provided ELearning developers with a new option for publishing courses specifically for the iPad. Read on to find out if it is a viable option.
Creating and Publishing a Course for the Articulate Mobile Player
Creating a course for the Articulate Mobile Player is essentially the same as creating a regular Storyline Flash/SWF based course. There are a few features that are not supported (see a list here provided by Articulate), but in general, we found the output worked fairly well. We had a few issues with Flash Animations that we imported into our course not working, but other items such as audio, video and the various quiz questions worked without issue. Publishing for the Mobile Player is as simple as checking the “Use Articulate Mobile Player” check box on the publishing options. Selecting this option will create a special iOS launch HTML page that is used to launch the Mobile Player on the iPad, rather than displaying a web browser based version of the course. An additional option that will allow Articulate Mobile Player users to view your courses offline is also available. We will discuss this option more a little later in this post.
Installing and Using the Articulate Mobile Player App
The Articulate Mobile Player app can be found in the iTunes app store and is free of charge. We had no problems when installing the app and were pleased with the simple and clean user interface. The app consists of a Library Tab, Favorites Tab and Help Tab. Viewing a course in the player is as simple as clicking a link from an Articulate Player Launch page in your web browser, or if you have already started viewing the course, by selecting the course on the Library Tab. The Library tab is essentially a menu that lists courses you have previously viewed in the Mobile Player. If the developer of your course has enabled the “Allow downloading for offline viewing” publishing option, a button will appear in the upper left corner of the screen that says, “Available Offline”. Tapping this button will cause the course to be downloaded to your iPad. We tested this feature by downloading one of our courses and disabling our WiFi. As expected, the course launched without issues. You can also mark each course as one of your “Favorites”, doing so will place this on the “Favorites” tab for future access. The final tab that is available is the Help tab. This tab simply provides information on the functionality of the Player.
Gestures and the Articulate Mobile Player
The Articulate Mobile Player currently supports two gestures: Pinch and Zoom and the Two-Finger Swipe. Pinch and zoom is used to switch in and out of full screen mode, while the two-finger swipe can be used to navigate forwards and backwards in a course. While it was nice to have these options available, I found that it was more convenient to tap on forward or back buttons.
The Final Verdict
I am probably one of the few people at the moment who doesn’t buy into all of the hype behind viewing ELearning content on tablets (And I love tablets). Personally, I still think the best learning experience for ELearning is when it is viewed on a desktop computer. With that said, if for some reason I had to deliver a course that was viewable on an iPad, I would definitely choose the Articulate Mobile Player route over HTML5 publishing. So far we have found that is has fewer issues and bugs than publishing to HTML5. Overall, Articulate has done a great job with providing this publishing option to users of Storyline by making publishing and viewing a course on the iPad simple and straight forward. The Articulate Storyline Mobile Player provides enough functionality to satisfy the appetites of iPad fans and is definitely worth a look if you have a need to develop an iPad ready M-Learning course.