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Solutions and technologies for mobile users

The development of mobile smartphone, including various types of mobile devices, has naturally created a new distribution channel that was quickly noticed by the authors of teaching materials made available as e-learning. The courses on mobile devices that initially haven't been popular, have to be built in a very simple manner and now can be delivered as interesting teaching materials. Another advantage of mobile devices is the fact that, thanks to this approach, the learner has constant access to training materials. According to research by Bersin & Associates, the percentage of use of mobile phones and mobile devices for educational purposes has increased from 9% in 2007 to 20% in 2010. The same report shows the increasing use of mobile devices for educational purposes. As an example may serve companies such as Accenture (teaching about 20,000 workers using podcasts available on mobile devices), and Coca-Cola (combination of m-learning in the so-called augmented reality and provision of a functioning educational game designed for young people and their way of life). The market of smartphones is growing rapidly and this is reflected in a number of reports and studies. 

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The mechanism of m-learning courses can be presented as in the example diagram shown in Drawing 3 This diagram describes the general flow of information and communication opportunities in m-learning courses, with a mobile device in the center of the system. The mobile device has the ability to input signals to the system (keyboard, touch screen, camera, microphone, other sensors), which are then processed in a mobile device using the CPU and memory. The mobile device is often in communication with the platform LMS / LCMS, presenting as a result of their actions on the output information in the form of text, vibration, audio or video.

Today, more and more part of the mobile devices is able to properly present educational materials in multiple formats.

In order to maximize the potential that lies in the m-learning, we have to answer the following questions:
a) What course development approach is the most appropriate for m-learning?
b) What types of content are suitable for mobile devices?
c) What are the factors determining the effectiveness of m-learning?

Support education by providing immediate information is frequently used approach. In such a way, successful are mobile dictionaries of foreign languages, or exchange of certain procedures and rules of conduct that are difficult to remember, knowledge of which is required in certain circumstances. This approach uses the text as the primary carrier of information, which in turn is due to the existence of available 3G/WIFI connections allows you to provide a more interesting representations of multimedia learning content. Another popular method is to introduce knowledge tests, which can take many forms - from receiving SMS messages with question and answer with the same path to more advanced solutions based on the combination of the server, usually via a web browser available on your mobile device.

Some solutions are based on Java Micro Edition (Java ME), which despite the high compatibility with all newer devices will not always be synonymous with the ability to run such a prepared test on the mobile device. Mobile devices are also well-suited to implement the concept of "collaborative learning" through the use of communication channels with other students or a tutor, such as SMS / MMS, instant messaging, or other available in the mobile device. Quite popular approach is the use of audio lessons, which is widely used because of its versatility - recordings as MP3 files can be played on virtually any mobile device (including mobile and dedicated MP3 players). Very often successfully used this method of distribution for language learning, or as a tool to replicate a portion of the material. In addition to providing content exchange as audio, become more frequent as video footage. It is worth mentioning that the current technical advancement of mobile devices available, only the most recent of them could benefit from this type of communication. It is directly related to the technical capabilities of the devices, including the size and type of display used.

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After defining the above technical side of the implementation of m-learning courses, it is worth to answer the question of whether there are certain types of content that are particularly well suited to provide the use of m-learning. Current research and experiments in m-learning show that there is at least a few such areas. These include the simple descriptions of processes that are required at the right time and do not require extensive introduction. This group includes, for example, exchange of "best advice ', or which represent knowledge in the form definition. M-learning courses are also suitable in areas where the possession of information in a given place and time brings tangible benefits - such as a set of instructions in a successful way of presenting a product to a potential customer.

Another large field are topics where knowledge can be easily developed, collected and presented - for example may be even advice and guidance in the selection process. With the help of m-learning is also easy to show (using audio / video) subjects whose value increases when you see the expression expert in your field. It is also good to use m-learning for the presentation of topics that will be useful to most people performing jobs that require constant movement (such as sales representatives) - mobile access to the domain knowledge can quickly pay off.

The effectiveness of m-learning depends on the correct approach to the development of courses specifically designed for mobile devices. These courses should primarily be short - small parts of information are much more absorbable, and the average length of module 5 to 7 minutes is optimal for the attainment of those objectives. The actual text should be presented in the simplest way possible - poorly planned and structured navigation in e-learning course in the worst case, may make it difficult to use it, but in the case of mobile devices may even make it impossible due to limited capacity, such as even the size of the screen. A well-designed m-learning course should follow a specific structure.

Kineo Company proposes the use of six degree progressive model, as in the table.

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Step Characteristics
1.Getting attention of the user Short introduction with the help of interesting/shocking fact, which attracts interest of the user in further content.
2.Introduction to the subject Short presentation of the content of the module/course and expectations regarding the user (e.g. „watch the video material and resolve the test”).
3.Presentation of main content Presentation of the main content. It is usually text or material audio/video.
4.Allowing for verification of gained knowledge After the user finishes work with the didactic material, he should have possibility of verification of gained knowledge and make it more permanent
5.Summary of key elements Summary of given course/module, underlining most important aspects 
6.Encouragement for further actvities m-learning course will be more successful if after its completion the user will want to extend his knowledge in the subject by himself. It is a good idea to provide links to the materials about similar subjects.