CTL Blog

What Works (and What Doesn't) Using Mobile Devices in Online Courses and CoursePlus

August 29, 2011 | 2 Minute Read

As mobile devices running the iOS and Android operating systems become much more common, the Center sometimes gets questions about what works (and what doesn't) with these devices. This post provides answers.

While online course and CoursePlus websites are accessible on iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices, there are some features that will not work properly depending on the device you use. These are:

  • Synchronized lecture presentations will not play back on iOS devices. (iOS devices don't support Flash, and never will. You can, however, listen to lecture MP3s and view PDFs on iOS devices.)
  • The rich text editor does not work on iOS or Android devices. This affects the following:
    • Posting messages in the BBS.
    • Making edits to any wiki page.
    • Responding to essay questions in online quizzes/exams.
    • Sending emails via the email tool.
    • Providing text feedback in the Gradebook.
  • Submitting files to a Drop Box¬†does not work on iOS or Android devices. (This really has to do with a lack of a formal "file system" on both platforms.)
  • TextChat and AudioChat will not work on iOS devices. (Again, because of Flash.)
  • LiveTalks and playback of LiveTalk archives will not work on iOS or Android devices.
We're working to make online courses a lot more mobile-friendly, starting with making special, mobile-specific layouts for most online course pages. If you're using an iPad or Android tablet, the current course websites load and display just fine on those larger screeens. It's not likely that there will be a resolution to the lack of lecture playback on iOS devices any time soon, however, given both Apple's relative intransigence on the issue and Adobe's timetable for coming up with a non-Flash version of Adobe Presenter (which is used for the creation of online lecture presentations).

In the meantime, though, it's recommended that when you want to create things on online course or CoursePlus websites, you should use a desktop or laptop. The experience is much better and the tools are designed for those environments. This would include:
  • Taking quizzes/exams online
  • Submitting files to a Drop Box
  • Contributing to a wiki
  • Posting a message in a BBS
  • Participating in a LiveTalk
The mobile experience for online education is much better suited to consuming information, at least in the short term.