Friday, 16 December 2011

Big questions for your next mLearning project

Last week, we discussed the importance of momentum - putting one foot in front of the other to move forward. Sounds pretty easy….except when you are lying flat on the ground in an open field with a large pine tree poking you in the eye. Add a dull hand saw that looks more like a comb then a cutting tool along with a -10 C wind chill and you have the makings for a swell family outing at your local Tree farm. (thumbs up from wife and daughter - mission accomplished)

There are several options to finding the right tree, here are 3 that we've used over the past few seasons:

> buy a pre-lite tree in any assortment of colors (purple, green, white -even pink) from your local department store (most economic $)

> cut your own tree (or buy a pre-cut tree)  - they make this sound romantic but you are also paying a premium for the experience (AKA free cookies and hot chocolate = expect to pay $$)

purchase a hand-picked tree from the “we’ll cut it for you” Tree farm at a cost that will crash any holiday budget (they know you by first name = big spender $$$)

Think about your upcoming mobility project for your institution much the same way. Before you can begin you need to ask 3 big question upfront:

Who is my target audience and what process can we automate for students, facility and administration  via mobile devices to make their lives easier? (3 typical use cases)

> students want to be social and engage with their friends, faculty, admin and varsity programs
> students want to feel safe and secure in their surroundings with access to resources in the case of a threat
> students would like to integrate with student information systems, library systems and automate enrolment and admissions

Do we have the right resources and subject matter expertise in-house (IT, Admin etc.)  to build, manage and maintain this mobile initiative?

> device selection - what devices will I need to support? (smartphone, tablets, blackberry, IOS and Android)
> what is the skill set to build the mobile application?  (native, web - support for off-line / wireless coverage)
> how will I handle mass adoption, scalability and security?
     Are there advantages to selecting an out of the box solution like Campus Life that can simplify mobile application development?

    > how much flexibility can I expect to have?
    > what is the time and effort to deploy a mobile solution in this scenario?
    > how can I brand and private label the solution?

    Jumping into a mobility project with minimal thought or planning is like buying a Christmas Tree in middle of the summer. Pointless, unless you are Santa Claus carrying a shade umbrella that doubles as a portable Christmas Tree.


    Smart steps:
    1. Gather as much feedback from your end users (students, faculty and admin) as possible throughout your initial planning to prioritize use cases and functionality
    2. Know your end goals, objectives and success criteria (one application or many complex integrated apps)
    3. Investigate build vs. buy options - understand the big picture - Mat Brogie from Mobility CIO has some great insight into this question
    4. Understand your strengths and capabilities as you develop, deploy and maintain your mobile application
    5. Plan for turbulence and hiccups through-out your project - mobility is no exception
    6. Define your time frame (test / pilot / feedback / rollout) and adoption strategy – how will your end users use this daily vs. occasionally
    7. Think about  a unique brand experience that defines your community / spirit that your end user audience can own
    8. Make it simple and intuitive to use with thought to user interface and design
    9. Provide an outlet for students to contribute ideas and a forum to innovate
    10. Instill an agile methodology through-out all phases allows for feedback and collaboration  
    What are you struggling with when you think about deploying a mobile strategy?
    What are some of the political barriers to building a mobile “field of dreams”?
    How have you incorporated some of these smart steps in your own mobile deployment?

    Big question – do you have a strategy in place to get all your holiday shopping done before December 24th? (or have you thought about outsourcing this?)



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