Delivering Web to Mobile

Link: Delivering Web to Mobile. Main link, please link to this page when citing the report.
Link: Delivering Web to Mobile (pdf). Direct access to report.

The use of mobile devices for the consumption and use of Web content and services has grown steadily over the last few years and continues to do so, with analysts predicting that mobile will soon exceed the traditional desktop PC as the most common means users interact with the Web and other Internet services.

This report looks at the growth of mobile, the state of the Web and gives an overview of approaches to delivering content and services optimised for the mobile context. This includes approaches to Web design for responsive sites, leveraging access to device functions and capabilities and the use of Web technologies to build mobile applications.

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Mobile Web Apps

Link: Mobile Web Apps (pdf).

With today’s students carrying a vast array of mobile devices that operate across a massively fragmented and shifting market, institutions can find themselves wondering how to deliver content and services specifically designed for mobile use most effectively. Apple’s App Store? Android? Blackberry or Microsoft Phone? Each has created their own app ecosystems.

The aim of this briefing paper is to give institutions an overview of the mobile web space and an understanding of why developing hosted, mobile web applications can offer an attractive and viable solution that can overcome the fragmentation and deliver crossplatform services.

Transcoder Final Report

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Summary: The transcoder project set out to develop and trial a cloud based service that can change one type of educational content package into another (i.e. transcode). Such a capability would help overcome the current proliferation of incompatible content packaging formats, which can be an obstacle to the dissemination and re-use of packaged learning content.

The aim was to both test the technical feasibility of such a transcoder, as well as explore the business case for deploying it as cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS). In that regard, both the initial set-up phase as well as potential future business models were explored. Possible further developments of the service were also considered.

The transcoder software was developed after a pattern established by a similar, advertising supported service for other kinds of file formats. The pattern is centred around a manual upload and download of packages, in order to facilitate maximal transcoding capacity without bottlenecks. The software itself was developed to be hosted on Amazon web services, for a variety of reasons that include flexibility of deployment, price and sustainability.

In the event, demand for the service turned out to be low, which may have something to do with limited usage of packaged content in the JISC community, exacerbated by limitations of the design of the transcoder’s interface, and possibly also the range of conversions that were developed and are currently available. As a consequence, the low start-up investment costs as well as the scalable exploitation costs of cloud computing offered clear advantages for this type of service. Also, at this, or even much higher levels of usage the ongoing costs required to keep the service going are low. Finally, feedback from stakeholders indicate that a few simple extensions to the software could make the service more useful.

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