Review: mLearning Studio by Rapid Intake

Rapid Intake has come out with a rapid development tool for creating mobile learning that is SCORM compliant, and the HTML5 compatible courseware output will run on both Apple iOS and Android OS mobile devices (no version for BlackBerry yet).

Click this link to learn more from Rapid Intake’s mLearning Studio page.

I Test Drove the Demo

With my iPad in hand, I decided to take their demo for a spin. As an attendee at The e-Learning Guild’s mLearnCon in June 2010 (San Diego, CA), I sat in on a few sessions on HTML5 and “HTML5 vs. Adobe Flash”. The excitement buzzed around the fact that, yes, HTML5 is an infant, but it is quickly going to learn to crawl, walk, run, and then compete in the Olympics of mobile learning development. Some pretty big names with huge wallets are funding the HTML5 Working Group, and those big names are investing heavily in the future success of HTML5.

Before you read my review, please know that although I confess that I am a MacGrrrl and a bit of an Apple FanGrrrl, I can do basic interactions in native Adobe Flash. I am an OS agnostic, and I might end up getting an HTC Droid smartphone instead of the Verizon iPhone… maybe.

For mobile devices, I do prefer tablets over smartphones due to the larger screen size. However, some learners, such as field technicians and sales representatives, will use iPhones or Android smartphones over tablets because the device fits easily in their hands (pockets and purses).

That said, I was happy to see the invitation on Twitter to review an m-learning development tool that uses HTML5 to output to any mobile OS device, especially for tablets!

Caveat: This is Rapid Intake’s early, early release, and I’m sure their development team has a ton of upgrades already on a long list. However, I’m going to provide an honest assessment of what I saw tonight on my iPad.

My first screen grab with comment:

Sample Content Screen | Intro - Rapid Intake

Nice interface for the iPad. Menu on the left. Gesture sensitive content screen on the right (Landscape, my preference). But, the Swipe gesture wasn’t consistent. I ended up using the Next arrow in the lower right corner.

I did feel disappointment that the Swipe gesture didn’t always swipe. User error? I don’t think so, I’ve had my iPad since early May 2010, and I’ve got Gestures down.

Dirty iPad screen? Umm… maybe. I think the mLearning Studio App just needs to get a few bugs out.

My second screen shot:

#2 screen shot of Rapid Intake

At first, I felt disappointed. After using Articulate Studio (and PPT 2007) and Adobe Captivate to develop elearning, this mLearning Studio screen made me think of the early days of ToolBook Instructor and linear e-learning. I really, really hope Rapid Intake is working on some more interactive and engaging templates.

I caught myself and halted my critical gene. As a first-generation HTML5 rapid e-learning development tool, sure, the initial templates will be basic. Heck Rapid Intake is having to work with what HTML5 can do… today, February 2011. Sure, this screen reminded me of some ToolBook Instructor courses I developed some years ago: Text on the Left, Image on the Right. Click… Next! But, I set that aside and thought about what this new App is doing… on my iPad. I think it’s pretty darn cool… for a start. However, honestly, with Lectora as a competitor in the HTML5 mobile learning market with Lectora Inspire, and Adobe making HTML5 tools, Rapid Intake will have some pretty big shoes to fill in terms of engaging and interactive course templates. (We who are Articulate FanGrrrls and FanGuyzzz are waiting PATIENTLY for our next upgrade for an iPad-compatible tool…hint, hint. However, today, @GetAdam tweeted the need for a Web App tester…. please, please, hoping, hoping!)

My third screen shot:

#3 screen shot of Rapid Intake

Again, a static template, but this time the image is on the left and the content is on the right. The WARNING message at the bottom is not interactive; it’s static content.

From this screen, I see some variation in the mLearning Studio template. I’d like to know if the Warning message at the bottom is an image file in its entirety (exclamation mark plus text), or is it an area in the template where I can insert and image file and enter content into a text field. It would be fun to see behind the screen. After viewing the demo, I did add my name to Rapid Intake’s email list. (And, to make things clear to the FTC, I have no business nor personal relationships with anyone at Rapid Intake, and I receive no benefits from them, nor do I expect to.)

My fourth screen shot:

#4 screen shot of Rapid Intake

For the “8 Steps to Awesome Service”, this is Step #1 – Answer the Phone.

Again, this screen in their demo is quite plain and linear. What I’d like to see is a template that will allow me to insert an iOS-compatible video, for example. And, mLearning Studio does have a video template page. If I were using this template page, I’d like to insert an image file or two to build visual scenarios. Or, I’d use the Quiz template pages to challenge the learners on the 8 Steps instead of a text dump. But, that’s an instructional design decision and not a comment on the HTML5 functions of mLearning Studio.

My fifth screen grab (Quiz screen):

#5 screen shot of Rapid Intake

This is a basic T/F quiz template screen. mLearning Studio also offers a multiple choice template.

The simple demo provided samples of one T/F question and two M/Cs (multiple choice). Will mLearning Studio also have templates for M/R or multiple response questions? Can I add images or iOS-compatible video to this page?

It will be interesting to see what other quiz templates are available. And, again, I’m sure the mLearning Studio team has a long list of enhancements in mind.

My sixth you-know-what:

#6 screen shot of Rapid Intake

The feedback template page is adecuate, but I’d like to learn more about what I can do with it other than enter text.

I liked seeing the feedback box appear as an overlap in Landscape mode on my iPad (my only testing environment for this review).

From a design and development viewpoint, can I change the color from gray to another color? Can I import image files or a video file to reinforce the intrinsic feedback?

I do understand that we’re working with HTML5 today. Who knows what tomorrow will bring in terms of new development options… especially for the iPad specifically.

My seventh screen shot:

#7 screen shot of Rapid Intake

Nice Quiz Results page. And, it’s nice to think of how happy the SCORM-compliant LMS will be. Not too mention the customer service managers. 😉

When I saw this page, I began to think of the possibilities of LMS reporting and tracking from mobile devices! When I felt my excitement rise inside of me, I realized I need to go outside and get a life… enjoy smelling flowers and petting puppy dogs in the park.

Seriously, as an attendee of a mobile learning conference in 2010, I am so excited about mobile learning, I just can’t tell ya!

My final screen grab:

mLearning Studio | Product Page - Rapid Intake

I found it funny that on my iPad, I couldn’t view the demo vid of mLearning Studio because it’s a Flash video (see gray text on the right side). They could have used Articulate’s Screenr to create an HTML5-compatible MP4 vid file. 🙂

So, I’m cheering on Rapid Intake and it’s mLearning Studio HTML5-compatible development tool. This was a nice first look, and there’s lots of room for wonderful growth.

(As an independent consultant, I need various tools in my tool box. So, I cheer on just about any tool maker because my clients typically select and use only one or two tools. What they use, I use.)

Thank you, Rapid Intake, for your first steps with an HTML5-compatible rapid mlearning tool (for the iPad!) for mobile devices. As a consultant, I do look forward to your future success.

(And, as a disclaimer as a consultant, I am happy to review anyone’s new tools, without remuneration to keep the FTC happy, of course.)

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mLearnCon 2010: Index of My Blog Posts

My Blog Posts about mLearnCon 2010

On Twitter: @jenisecook

June 14-17, 2010, in gorgeous San Diego, California, The eLearning Guild hosted and facilitated their first annual conference on mobile learning, or mLearnCon. I registered to attend several seminars, plus a full-day workshop on Monday, “Think Different: Getting Your Mind Around mLearning Design”, facilitated by Dr. Clark Quinn, @Quinnovator on Twitter.

The week was filled with exciting seminars. If you attend mLearnCon in 2011, I strongly suggest you go with several colleagues, schedule seminars in advance, and then share notes. I made some hard choices that week on which seminars to attend…there were many good ones available.

Everyone felt that we are at the point of seeing mlearning take off exponentially in the next few months and years, and yet, there are many issues to discuss and resolve…particularly how to track and report mlearning in the various Learning Management Systems (LMSs), and data security issues.

For your enjoyment, here’s a list of my mLearnCon 2010 posts:

1) Bill Brandon’s Recap: First Annual mLearnCon

On Twitter: @billbrandon

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-recap-the-elearning-guild/

2) B.J. Schone: 20 mLearning Tools in 60 Minutes

On Twitter: @bjschone

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-b-j-schone-20-mlearning-tools/

3) Joe Welinske: iPad Panel – iPad App Resources

On Twitter: @jwelinske

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-ipad-joe-welinske-resources/

4) Featured Panel Discussion on the Apple iPad

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-ipad-panel/

5) Patti Shank: Your First mLearning Initiatives

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-patti-shank-mlearning-initiatives/

6) Tomi Ahonen: Keynote – Mobile in Learning

On Twitter: @tomiahonen

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-tomi-ahonen-mobile-in-learning/

7) Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Journey

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/07/mlearncon-2010-qualcomm-mlearning-journey/

8] Richard Clark: Surviving without Flash

On Twitter: @rdclark

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/06/mlearncon-2010-richard-clark-surviving-without-flash/

9) Mimi Ito: Keynote – What the User Wants in mLearning

http://ridgeviewmedia.com/blog/2010/06/mlearncon-2010-dr-mimi-ito-what-user-wants-mlearning/

On a Personal Note…

On Monday afternoon, while in Dr. Clark Quinn’s workshop, my husband texted me some very sad news. His mom died that day. My mother-in-law Donna had suffered a long, hard battle against lung cancer, won the battle, but had lost to COPD. We knew we’d have her for this year only, but her death came sooner than we expected and it was a shock.

I notified members of The Guild, drove home (we live near San Diego), and was able to return to the conference on Tuesday and forward at my husband’s urging Monday evening. His mom had made advanced preparations and arrangements, so we had no tasks to attend to that week.

The eLearning Guild staff not only host amazing conferences, they also, during very hectic conference days, take time to be human. I cannot express enough thanks to those staff members who reached out to me for a few minutes with their kindness and compassion. I specifically want to call out Brent Schlenker, whose concern and thoughtful words meant more to me than I can ever express.

Thank you, eLearning Guild.

The American Cancer Society helped Donna through some very hard times. If you can, help me pay it forward through donations of either time or finances. Thank you.

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mLearnCon 2010: B. J. Schone – 20 mLearning Tools

Tuesday (15 June 2010, 2:30-3:30 p.m.) Workshop

20 mLearning Tools in 60 Seconds

B.J. Schone, Senior Learning Technology Specialist, at Qualcomm, told participants about 20 mobile learning tools in under an hour! His concise, four-page handout is a treasure chest of resources for the diversity of mobile devices and operating systems/platforms. He is also a live-blogger’s dream because he has posted his presentation slides on SlideShare.net

That makes my task easier, so thank you, B.J.

On Twitter: @bjschone

mLearning Tools

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mLearnCon 2010: iPad Panel – Joe Welinske Resources

Wednesday (16 June 2010, 2:30-3:30 p.m.) Workshop

iPad Resources from Joe Welinske

Featured Panel: iPad – Game Changer or Just Another Tablet?

Joe Welinske, President, Writers UA, provided a one-page sheet of iPad design and development resources for those of us who attended the featured panel.

On Twitter: @jwelinske

iPad Resources URL

http://bit.ly/iPad-Resources

or, same information located at:

http://www.writersua.com/seminars/iPad-Panel-Tips-mLearn.htm

Here’s my recap from Joe’s handout!

  • iPhone Dev Center (join for free and download Xcode and iPhone SDK)
  • Use Automator to Publish iPad Content (It’s on my MacBookPro…)
  • iPad Human Interface Guidelines (usability, etc.)
  • HTML and CSS support on Safari (currently the only browser on the iPad)
  • iPad/Flash articles
  • Apple Online Help Model for the iPad/iPhone

I cannot wait to “geek out” on all of the resources Joe has provided.

Wow! If I thought the e-learning world was exciting and fun as an instructional designer, I am thrilled with what I am seeing for mobile learning.

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mLearnCon 2010: iPad Panel

Wednesday (16 June 2010, 2:30-3:30 p.m.) Workshop

Featured Panel: iPad – Game Changer or Just Another Tablet?

Panel Members:

First, a Few Words from Me

I am owned by an iPad. And, I’m an Apple fangrrrl. However, I am also “agnostic” when it comes to operating systems and manufacturers. I truly believe that our learners will let us know which mobile devices and OSes are “the ones”… not Adobe, not Apple, not Google… the learners will be the judges, and I feel we all need to be “multilingual” when designing and developing mobile learning. That said, I am a HUGE FAN of the iPad. I’m convinced that tablet-based learning will rock our worlds, and it was a fun, guilty pleasure to have attended this featured panel with fellow iPad fans.

Okay, now for my rapid-typing note while everyone spoke. I typed on my iPad, using the Notes application.

Session Notes

Bigger screen. Instant on. iTunes ecosystem. Tansparent media. Kid and grandparent friendly. Simplicity. They are marketing to eBooks and to web surfing. Instant information.
By year end, there may be 25 tablets. How will iPad fare?

Android platform has a complex platform, not as easy to use platform as Apple’s.

The openness of Android is part of it’s problem. Who do I develop for?

iPhone development kit is easy to figure out.

iPad and Microsoft: it’s not an Intel device, cannot run MS Office.

iTunes ecosystem is billions of dollars, and developers have been waiting for a mobile device to take advantage of it; MS is behind the curve.

iPad and mlearning… Potential to be a true digital book, not an eBook, but a full, multimedia digital book, an anatomy book, for example (images, video, etc.), along with social networking. It’s a shareable device… Great for collaboration. Scrabble app.. The iPad is the board and your iPhone is the tray of pieces. Ways of rethinking how we create design and develop learning. Recent upgrade to the Scrabble app actually turns the board.

The iPad is the gateway to the cloud. Rutgers… Syllabus, accessing it. It also can keep people more on tasks because it is so easy to do, to move from state to state. Don’t have to disconnect it from other peripherals, for example.

The body interacts with it, with the gestures. Its larger screen is intuitive, easy to use.

It needs front and back cameras for social collaboration, and creation and sharing of media.

George Fox U gave incoming freshman the option to get an iPad over the MacBookPro, and 10% chose the iPad. But it doesn’t print. There is no file system. Has to be tethered to iTunes. However, iPad has the potential to be amazing in the univ classroom.

Abilene Christian Univ iPod Touch means less engagement than the iPhone. The social and entertainment options gives them educational value. The iPad doesn’t fit in pockets, so they don’t offer the iPad, faculty are testing it. Sees potential for media creation and sharing. SketcchBook Pro, for example.

The Wired app is lovely and catastrophic. It’s not really text. It comes out of InDesign 5. It is a big image, can’t interact with the text. Can’t use gestures. Fear that swipe would replace “click Next” as in elearning.

The iPad is high design, and it is leading in tablet interface design. Innovative ways to exploit the gestures and full features takes time and money, just keep this in mind. Numbers app is well designed, for example, but you will pay $10 for it.

What mlearners will want…
Bookmarking is critical. Copy and paste. Sharing. Transparent interface that appears when you need it and goes away to give you more creative space.

They also want esthetics, beauty in design. iPad can deliver this.

Accessibility features.. Apple has built accessibility into SDK for disabilities.

Disk storage.. Is the iPad for the cloud? Currently, it is clunky because of iTunes but you can use Dropbox or GoodReader. But it’s not easy for non-power users. But because the files are saved in the app used to create it, it resides there. A bit easier to find it instead of trying to remember where u saved it.

Flash
Not a problem, the Flash issue. With the mobile web that delivers content based on devices may not be a problem. Think in 6-12 months it may not be an issue. HTML5 is actively being enhanced. The touch feature is what needs to be addressed. Flash is too mouse driven with hover features. The need is for a WYSIWYG program that makes it easy for you and your SMEs to create cross-OS, devices mlearning. It might take a couple of years. It’s a transition. Pushes our creativity.

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