Saturday, October 31, 2015

Live webinar on a mobile device

A few months ago I enrolled in a course about how to design courses to be delivered via mobile devices. I did not have a "mobile" device, so I purchased a 7inch Android Tablet (an XO Tablet) and a 4 inch Android phone. This week I decided to try the tablet for the Adobe Connect webinar.

I downloaded the Connect App, which was not difficult (the hard part was learning how to download Apps). The tablet has a microphone and speaker, but webinars work much better with a headset, so I plugged in the same surveillance style headset, I use for my mobile phone.

The Connect App presents an interface similar to the desktop, but simplified. There is a column of buttons on the left, a column of text chat and then a large window for presentations (there was a video window but it disappeared when the webinar started, presumably because no video was being sent).

On the 7 inch screen the slides were about 4.5 inches and are very clear and readable. On a smart phone it might be necessary to have the slides full screen.

While I could walk around with the tablet and headset, it was quickly evident I could not take part in the webinar from anywhere. I had to be in range of WiFi, somewhere quiet and where I could sit down and put the device on a desk. The tablet is too heavy to hold still for more than a few minutes. As a result I had to use an office, with a desk, even with a "mobile" device

The tablet was fine for listening and reading text messages, but was difficult to use more actively. Typing a short text message was okay, but I could not easily flip to a web search and paste the results in. Switching to talk mode was surprisingly difficult. I put my virtual "hand" up to have a turn to talk, but found that I could never put it down. Clicking on the button to activate the microphone was difficult. What I found more useful was leave the soft microphone switch on and use the Push-to-Talk button on my headset.

At present a mobile device is a novelty for me. I might become more proficient, but to take notes during the webinar I got out my laptop and typed on its real keyboard and 11.6 inch screen. So the tablet provided little benefit over using a laptop (which is transportable, rather than mobile). A better option might be a smart phone, plus a large tablet or laptop. The smart phone would be used for the consuming information and the laptop for producing. This arrangement might also work well when the presenter in a webinar, as it can be useful to have a second device to see what the presentation looks like.

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