Archive for November 27th, 2007

Mobile phones and Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are changing the way people access and work with information. These devices are becoming smaller, cheaper, better, and more connected. Mobile phones and PDAs may just become the mobile computing technology that revolutionizes the face of learning. These mobile devices give students wireless connectivity while expanding where educational computing can take place to the home, field, and any places. The ability of accessing Web sites using mobile browsers allows students convenient access to course Web pages, syllabus, tutorials, magazines, newspapers, and reference materials on their mobile devices. This access, along with basic search capabilities, provides many learning opportunities for students that would generally not be possible or efficient before.

Today, there are 1.5 billion mobile devices in the world, more than three times the number of PCs. As the mobile devices increase capabilities and networks get faster, users are using mobile devices more and more for common computing and information gathering tasks.

Making educational Website friendly to mobile devices is worth serious consideration. If a Web site is set up correctly, the same pages will be compatible with conventional desktop/laptop browsers and mobile browsers. Designing an effective, mobile-friendly, educational Web site requires careful planning and basic knowledge of Web design and development for mobile devices. When designing a Web site for mobile devices it is even more important to work out the site design before dealing with individual pages. As compared with desktop Web design and development, site development for mobile devices force Web designers to work within fairly tight constraints: access speed, file size, memory space, mobile browser, screen size, page length, font, graphics, multimedia, and form. Web designers must deal with these design constraints and decide the trade-offs. For example, it is important to decide what information is essential and then present that information in a manner that is clear, concise, efficient, and easy to navigate. In addition, given the smaller screens of mobile devices, Web designers should avoid including more than one topic onto the same page. It is important to strike a balance between the depth of the page hierarchy and the length of the individual pages.

Currently, there are several technical guidelines for mobile Web developers and designers available online for guidance and tips. Microsoft creates pages for designers of Pocket PC: Designing Web Sites for Internet Explorer for Pocket PCs. mTLD (mobile Top Level Domain) published the DotMobi Mobile Web Developer’s Guide in March 2007, a comprehensive guide to mobile web development. Both these publications detail layout considerations, image production, multimedia and HTML support. In addition, the W3C, the leading consortium for the World Wide Web, launched the Mobile Web Imitative (MWI) that is focusing on developing “best practices” and a trustmark “mobileOK” for Web sites in May 2005. The “mobileOK” allows Web authors to check their mobile sites whether they are conformance to the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices. Also, The Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group released the First Public Working Draft of “Mobile Web Best Practices 1.0” in November, 2006. The document specifies best practice for making Web access from a mobile device as simple, easy and convenient as Web access from a desktop device.

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