Using portable computing devices with wireless and mobile data plans enables mobile learning and allows teaching and learning to extend to spaces beyond the traditional classroom. Even within the classroom, mobile learning gives instructors and learners more flexibility and new opportunities for interaction.
In recent years, there has been a larger emphasis on mobile learning in education, particularly in regards to using tablets for online coursework. There are a wide variety of tablets, operating systems (Android, IOS, Microsoft, WebOS, and others), and versions of operating systems. Even though new mobile devices and versions of mobile operating systems come out every few months, we can share some basic guidelines on what to expect when using mobile devices for taking Sevenstar's online courses. If you need compatibility info about a specific course and device, please contact us with your particular use case.
Sevenstar uses two main learning platforms: Brainhoney for Credit Recovery and Angel (by Blackboard) for the majority of its online courses. Brainhoney needs no special instructions for mobile usage and it will be our only learning environment for courses starting after July 2014. For Angel, you will need some additional tips to complete your coursework on a mobile device. In the future, some of these tips may not be needed (as mobile support gets better with every update), but we will try to keep this page as up-to-date as possible. Below are tips, best practices, links to videos, and advice from others who use mobile devices as tools for learning.
Note: There are items required by the courses, such as software installs, textbook on CD, Java, and Shockwave player which are still desktop-only features. There are less of these requirements all the time as our courses are updated from our providers, but some work may still need to be done on a desktop computer/traditional laptop to finish a course.
iOS devices are common in the educational market and work well with our services, with some small tweaks needed for Angel. Maximize your experience with these tips and best practices:
- Mobile Safari does not support every feature, so you may need to select "PDA Mode" in the bottom left to navigate the course (icon shown on right) if you are unable to scroll down far enough to see the entire lesson page. You are able to switch back and forth at any time. The Chrome browser on iOS does a little better in some navigational regards than the stock Safari browser.
- iOS devices do not support Flash in the default browser, and many of our courses do still use Flash. However, you can work around that by installing the paid Puffin web browser. If you choose not to, you will see that all important Flash material in the course has a "Text Only" link below the Flash box that provides a text version of the necessary information for the student.
- iOS devices also cannot directly upload files to dropboxes. The workaround for that is to post links in those assessments for your teachers from a service such as Dropbox or Google Docs instead of submitting the file itself.
- Watch Using the iPad in the Classroom to learn more about mobile learning with Sevenstar.
Android tablets and phones are becoming increasingly common in the classroom. And our services work great on those as well. But again, some workarounds and tips are needed for the Angel learning management system.
There are dozens of browsers available from the Google Play market for Android devices. The browser that seems to be rising to the top is the mobile version of Chrome, produced by Google who also makes the Android operating system. We recommend using Android OS version 4.0 or higher, but there are options that will work with older OS versions too. If you contact us, we can give you the latest information.
Adobe, the developer of Flash software, has discontinued support for Android. There are workarounds that allow you to turn on Flash for any version of Android, but those steps are complex. The easiest way to view Flash content is to use the text-only links below the Flash content in our online courses or to use the paid Puffin web browser, which has responded well to our tests and re-enables Flash-like functionality.
There are many excellent Office applications for Android. The one we recommend is the free Quickoffice, recently acquired by Google. Android will allow you to either submit the document file in dropboxes, or upload your document to Google Docs storage and then link your document to your teacher.
We are continuously testing emerging devices. At this time, we do not have firm recommendations for other devices, however we have had a large number of people use an ever-growing list of devices with our services. Some flexibility may be required for non-Android/iOS users, as certain features may be difficult to use or may need to be done in a different way than our listed instructions in the course. If you do want to know more about your specific device, please contact us for those details.