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Study Success at Sussex goes mobile!

S3 mobile website

The Study Sussex at Sussex (S3) website for the University of Sussex was a very successful project we completed in 2009. This year to keep up with changes in the devices used by many students to interact with the Internet, we have worked with the team at Sussex to develop a mobile version of this website. Key aspects of this new mobile site are:

  • The mobile version utilises the jQuery Mobile framework to provide the core aspects of the user interface with customised elements such as the menu bar and navigation menus added.
  • A PHP script is used to identify the website viewer’s device and automatically direct them to the appropriate version of the site.
  • The site content for both the normal and mobile sites is drawn from a bespoke content management system to allow content editing to be carried out in one place and immediately be displayed on both versions of the site.
  • The mobile version of the site offers all the content and as rich an experience as the normal site rather than a limited version of the normal site.
  • Site interactions (e.g. tabs, accordions, hide / reveal elements, quizzes etc) have been redeveloped to suit the inaccuracy of a touch screen and limited display sizes.
  • Video is embedded in the site pages using YouTube to enable the site to deliver video on the maximum number of device types.
  • Mobile site accessibility is enhanced through hide and reveal transcripts for videos and podcasts.
  • Site search is provided by a Google custom search facility styled to match the design of the mobile site.
  • Users can opt to view either the normal or mobile sites whatever device they are using.

Example screenshots:

S3 mobile site home page
S3 mobile site home page
S3 mobile site menu displaying hide and reveal sections
S3 mobile site menu displaying hide and reveal sections
S3 mobile site search results page
S3 mobile site search results page
S3 mobile quiz questions displaying feedback
S3 mobile quiz questions displaying feedback
S3 mobile site podcast with revealed transcript
S3 mobile site podcast with revealed transcript
S3 mobile site displaying embedded YouTube video
S3 mobile site displaying embedded YouTube video

Flash and mobile phones (the HTC Hero)

I must admit that I haven’t really paid too much attention to mobile phones and consequently mobile learning to date.  That has been largely because the only available flash player on mobiles has been Flash Lite which offers a very limited set of functionality, and because of this it has not looked that likely that flash based applications such as Dragster would be usable on a mobile.

Well it looks like that is going to change and sooner rather than later…

In July 2009 HTC released their touch screen Hero handset which offers a much more capable flash player on the Android operating system. There are numerous reviews of this device out there but the video below (taken from this review by Rob Jackson) demonstrates some of the abilities and limitations of its current flash capabilities.

 

While its obviously not perfect, this is boding very well for the future, and according to Adobe the flash player is due to be upgraded later this year.

What this appears to be leading to is a future where flash development for the web and mobile devices will become much, much easier and may even get to a point of develop once and deploy onto any device. The project that is making this a reality is the Open Screen project.

This is all very exciting especially in combination with the developments in mobile touch screen interfaces which open up possibilities for more tactile interactions such as drag and drop.

I hope to get my hands on an HTC Hero soon and have a go myself… when I do I’ll post on how I get on.