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mLearning needs a GBI!*

*Gesture Based Interface.

In a recent webinar on mLearning and in some discussions with my friend and colleague, R Jacquez, the issue of a better UI for mLearning on small screens was a hot topic. Consensus about the need for an UI that minimized or eliminated the standard, Next/Back, Rewind/End navigation controls was essential.

Beginning with IOS 2.0 Apple;s API began to define the basic touch gestures for the iPhone. While there are some details that still require some work, HTML5 appears to have the touch elements needed. For a good discussion of these elements from a coding point of view, check this post on Multi-touch Web Development which discusses the 3 touch events currently supported in mobile browsers for iDevices and Androids.

    • touchstart: a finger is placed on a DOM element.
    • touchmove: a finger is dragged along a DOM element.
    • touchend: a finger is removed from a DOM element.

At 3WC there is a working group and a Editor’s draft document defining the specifications for the HTML5 Touch elements. The draft is from November, 2011 and is a work in progress at this point in time.

The next question to confront IDs and eLearning developers is “What is the best delivery mechanism”. Building native applications requires a higher level of coding skill than most learning and training professionals possess. On the other hand, research shows that users generally prefer browser based apps to native apps for most tasks, That said, developing browser based mLearning apps seems a logical starting point for most of the training community.

Minimalist Approach

As noted above, for most eLearning apps that would be appropriate for mobile delivery like. Just in Time mini-modules and Job Aids with steps, simple browser based gestures would seem sufficient.

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WebKit Testing

I just located a post from late 2010 that shows UI development with WebKit on both the iPhone and Android platforms. Here the author focuses on Font and issues related to form widgets spacing, The most relevant conclusion here is that the emulators suck and testing is best done on the devices themselves.

Swipe Gesture Gallery

Another HTML5 developer, Joseph, has defined an HTML5 process for replicating some basic swipe gestures. His post has two parts and creates a useful example, Here is the link to his desktop version (WebKit or Chrome browsers only) and the link for Android devices. This sample shows  a picture gallery, but looks tweakable for eLearning developers.

Captivate TOC & Play Bar?

For Adobe Captivate sims, we have the TOC and Play Bar options to consider. The TOC can be set as a overlay accessible from a handle neat the top left of the screen. If in place with navigation enabled, users may use the TOC to navigate to any side. TOC seems a logical option for tablet mLearning delivery. A slim version of the Play Bar seems OK for tablets but not for phones, at least until we have a full eLearning GBI defined.

Next?

In the next post, I’ll discuss some more exotic interfaces such at the MIT labs Wearable Interface, Google Glasses and Massive Multi-Touch. What are your ideas about the next UI? Are we all going to become Borgs?

Copyright © 2013-2014 Edward Martino, PhD. All Rights Reserved.