KeywordsScience and knowledge
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For educational organizations offering e-learning, intensive flow of technological innovations may be considered as both blessing and curse at the same time. On the one hand, many challenging tasks, such as creation of multimedia content, become easier with new technologies and tools, so e-learning creation, support and delivery is currently affordable in sense of investments and human resources as a part of common educational practice. On the other, large scale technological changes, such as transfer to a new platform, require meticulous analysis of potential benefits and drawbacks due to the need for personnel training, compatibility problems or unexpected development costs. Introduction of mobile learning as an option for distance learning delivery is a typical example. Nowadays e-learning services are available globally, so high technical quality and pedagogical soundness of learning offers are the issue of survival for educational organization. Technology innovations, as m-learning, cannot be ignored, taking into account wide availability of not only mobile devices but also mobile applications and services. Smartphones and tablets are widely used by the youth for various forms of communication, including email, Skype and specific apps, for playing games, or for internet access to news, data and content - browsing/skimming, listening to favorite music or watching HD video. Therefore, e-learning organizations have no other choice than offer m-learning for their customers - a learning content in a mobile-accessible mode - as it enhances flexibility, extends "learning hours" by time spent on commuting, waiting, and unexpected breaks, and thus makes e-learning offer more attractive. Several approaches to introduce m-learning are known, and each of them has both benefits and drawbacks further discussed in the paper. Thus each organization has to make its own decision based on short- and long-term analysis of its resources, personnel skills and qualifications, potential audience, and many other factors. There is no universal method to evaluate all of them, and related error cost may be significant. Moreover, due to specifics of mobile devices and environment in which mobile learning takes place, as well as some implementation issues, mobile mode may be rather an option for e-learning delivery and cover some but not all learning experiences offered in a course. Therefore, introduction of m-learning should not be costly or time-consuming, and should not require changes of the established e-learning processes. Considering that m-learning is a new delivery method, we decide to offer it in a trial mode to evaluate customers' readiness and preferences and adjust related mechanisms and resources accordingly. Based on the analysis of the approaches and requirements to mobile delivery, we suggest generating of podcasts from the Moodle LMS currently in use as a first step in m-learning implementation for a number of reasons: 1. Podcasting supports a wide range of formats for text, graphic, audio, and video information; 2. Free podcast players are available for almost all mobile platforms, no programming is needed; 3. Information delivered as a podcast episode can be saved locally when internet connection is available and further accessed offline; 4. Subscription and auto-update mechanisms ensure timely upload of newly published information. 5. Podcasts may be accessed both from mobile device and personal computer, and synchronization between them is possible; 6. Generating podcasts from LMS simplify access and management of learning resources - no need to deploy standalone podcasting server, transfer resources from the LMS and synchronize changes; 7. There is no need to log in to the LMS from mobile device to access a resource. Further, implementation of podcasts for a course delivered via LMS Moodle is described and its relevance is discussed.