Trying to build a product at my startup, I see that we have missed our deadlines very badly.
When I looked back for the root cause, the biggest challenge seems to be me. I need to unlearn what I have learnt earlier.
In the past, the client comes plans how to position the product and came with basic features for a product and I worked hard and made the requirements complete asking the right questions. Today I still ask questions, but there is no one to provide answers. I need to start answering my own questions.
In the past, i delivered the product at intermediate milestones and the client worked and provided me the received feedback and proposed changes. I worked my team and implemented changes in short time based on my client priority. Today I need to get feedback between milestones and for every feedback decide whether to change or not. I need to prioritize my tasks and adhere to my priorities and changes them as and when needed.
In the past the client plans go on “Go to market” strategy and I executed the technical part of strategy well. The client planned the product documents and the marketing documents well Today I need to build the artifacts and plan for “Go to market”, execute the same, change based on the market feedback and present to the market at that too quick. though this is not easy, i need to start on this front.
In the past, I worked with USA client, there is no meeting wit your client during the day and you can work without interference during the day and take the calls during night. Having Indian customers, you need to meet and respond to them during the day and you need to complete work during the day. We see at our startup one person is able to perform only one of them and not both. This makes me go nuts.
This is a two step process. Authoring starts with design and create step, not directly dependent of technology. the package and deliver step aims to customize and transform content for the supported device targets and device technologies.
Design and create step shall be more independent of technology. Authoring is a team process. One should be able to work together and collaborate with other authors creating content anywhere and any time. The content needs to be stored online and should be safe guarded by our version system, to ensure that no work is lost, no matter what. One should be able to PC or tablet to design the content. The existing browser models might continue to work for content creation.
- Arrive at templates to build content suited for mobile: One can plan for templates that are suited to working in mobile based on usability and personalization and also available as templates for the author to use. These templates should be available out of the box, no programming required. The templates need to support the screen sizes/resolution supported by mobiles devices. The images and content should be transformed in to multiple forms to make effective use of the real estate in target device. One should be able to transform the content for new devices too.
- For creation of text content, there should be a way to support learning content in multiple languages. For creation of audio and video content, there should be mechanism to record audio and video in optimal bit rate so that the quality of the content to listener is good and at the same time does not choke the internet bandwidth.
- Enable “what you see is what you get” for the author:. To complete the creation process, it would be nice for author to see on his screen how the learning content looks exactly as the learner will see it after publishing. It is truly “what you see is what you get”. This gives great advantages for the author. There should be hardly no trouble to publish the same course for a different interface and look and feel. Easy to use and easy to reuse!
- Authoring is a team process. One shall have a very simple powerful way of managing your tasks. For example, when you are done with your task you can mark the task as ‘processed’. You can add comments and comments can be for your own use or for others. All comments can carry a status (Not processed, In process, Processed) and can be edited and deleted. We need to have a roles and rights system to ensure that everybody only has the functionality they need.
Package and Deliver step deals with the challenge of how to package the content to have a streamlined delivery mechanism. For example, one can store local contents in Sqlite in both android phones and iphones. The mechanism to package the content is driven by the model to deliver the content to the mobile.
- Follow a browser based model. This would be best suited for companies that have already existing e-learning platform. Here the device would run browser and the content is consumed using the browser calls. There is no content stored on the device and is downloaded on navigation across webpages. One needs to think of the internet usage charge for the end user to download the same learning content multiple times and the impact of network quality on the learning experience.
- Follow a application model: package the content in to applications that can be installed on the mobile devices. This model becomes cumbersome to handle on long term as the number of applications increase on the device. Students might need to have download similar applications multiple times for the sake of the content. This model is supported by the android and apple market places.
- Follow a hybrid model: allow the application to be downloaded to the mobile device. The application shall be able to download the content on demand and then the end user can make use of the content multiple times on device without any need to download the content again. This model is not supported directly by the app stores. One needs to build something like a Content Store that would enable the functioning of the model.
Content Store demands more time and effort. Content store can be build with two components, content publish component on the web and the store subscribe component on the mobile. The content is packaged in to logical units that can be downloaded to the device. The logical units shall be made available on a price or free basis and are downloaded as tracked atomic operation to the mobile device. The mobile application already has in-build intelligence to manage the downloaded content and present the same for consumption on the mobile device. You can make use of embedded web browser component to navigate through a maze of html page, downloaded as logical unit. Content store adds on to the capability of the mobile application to download the new content at the same instant, the content is packaged and approved on the website and made available for consumption. .