2 billion internet users, 4.5 billion mobile phone users

These numbers were mentioned by Clive Shepherd in an online seminar for ALT earlier this month. The implications for those of us working in the field of OERs (open educational resources) are surely enormous.

My colleague Julian, from the Bath team on the OSTRICH project, had this to say after attending the OpenEd2010 conference in Barcelona:

Design OER for mobile first, desktop PCs second. According to Rory McGreal there are 3.4 billion mobile devices in use, and the majority of people accessing the internet do so via mobile devices. Yet much OER content, from simple Word documents to complex Flash-authored learning objects, are either inaccessible or poorly optimised for mobile devices. And with the vast array of Android and iOS mobile devices appearing, this may be a real issue for many people who choose to learn untethered from their desktop PC.

I assume that there is a higher number of mobile phone users than actual devices, which would explain the difference between Clive Shepherd’s figures and Rory McGreal’s.

One very simple thing that OER creators could do to make their resources more user-friendly for people accessing them on mobile devices is to publish printed materials in e-Pub format as well as in the more usual more computer-friendly formats such as PDF, RTF and Microsoft Word. If you want help in doing this, you might find this OER produced by the OTTER team useful.

Gabi Witthaus, 17 Dec 2010

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