This installment of the series on StartToMOOC focuses on mobile access for a cloud or MOOC course. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) or bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) design enables a wide variety of mobile devices to access a training, education, or information site.

As more and more training moves into the cloud, enabling mobile access is all the rage. But doing this for a free and open course makes the designer’s life that much more exciting. Setting up learning spaces within reach of a diversity of learners will enable you to connect to the world and its local favorite devices (smartphones, netbooks, tablets, computers, eReaders, etc.).

Make design and development easy for yourself—use what is already out there before starting to develop your own mobile solutions that enable access to your open, online, or cloud course.

Are your learners bringing their own devices?

There are five basic steps to optimize BYOD options.

  1. Use mobile-enabled social media tools.
  2. Do not use huge graphics that demand close-ups to make the numbers and details on them readable.
  3. Use simple eeb standards as much as possible. Everyone talks about HTML5 and CSS (look here for a free W3C tutorial), but if you are simply using pictures and text, designing with basic HTML and CSS will get you there.
  4. Use tools built especially for mobile devices (for example, Posterous)
  5. Sign up for the free Twitter BYOTchat co-facilitated by the incredible Steve Hayes, who has a great list of BYOT gathered in this blogpost.

There are also five basic steps to optimize your content design for BYOD delivery and / or capture.

  1. Make sure you promote and explain Wi-Fi use. This will reduce download costs for your learners and participants.
  2. Use small-sized chunks (otherwise it takes forever to download): for example, adjust your movie quality or cut multimedia into downloadable and reviewable parts.
  3. Assure user friendliness. Give links straight to content, use QR codes, and RSS feed links.
  4. Build for lowest common denominator: do not use Flash (or limit its use), use text and pictures for quick access, only use more complex multimedia files when relevant for the content. Or use email for main content updates (easy and cross-platform).
  5. Test your content both with a small pilot group and with a bigger one, covering as many devices as possible. Ask for feedback before formally launching your course.

Other steps to support BYOD

There are, of course, other aspects to BYOD: a BYOD strategy (as shown in this video from IBM: “What is the place for BYOD inside your company?”), a BYOD policy (provide guidelines to your learners and students to keep it nice for everyone) and a big issue: BYOD security (video from Cisco. This is of BIG importance to all IT people, and quite tricky in terms of support as well).

Opening up your course for BYOD is one thing; getting the people there is simply something else. This video offers a possible approach to practical BYOD solutions by providing the users with QR codes.

Want more?

If you want to experience a MOOC or cloud course for yourself, feel free to register for the free online course on mobile learning called MobiMOOC that is running through September 30, 2012. If you have a question concerning MOOCs or cloud courses, feel free to contact me.