Mobile Web Conference 2013 Update


I attended the Modern Mobile Conference down at UCLA 9/10 and 9/11. Here are some of the highlights I took away from the conference.

The content of the conference expanded this year and included presentations on javascript frameworks, responsive web design subjects including tables, images, event schedules and email. For each session, the speaker notes are available and often include additional resources worth reading. 

There were expanded presentations on the WebBlocks framework and its roadmap forward. I think I'm finally grasping how I'd make use of WB. The documentation for this project has expanded greatly, see the Recipe page and bake it to your needs accordingly. 

Instruction & Research

One subject I found of particular interest was the focus on using mobile applications in instruction and research. This might be of interest to our faculty in terms of data collection for field studies, or other types of research. You can think of this in terms of iOS and Android apps that might be distributed via the Apple App Store or as mobile web pages depending on the research design.

Here's a couple of scenarios that might spark your thinking for how mobile web tools could help your faculty in their instruction and research.

The ohmage (  project is "is an open-source participatory sensing technology platform. It supports expressive project authoring; mobile phone-based data capture through both inquiry-based surveys and automated data capture as well as temporally and/or spatially triggered reminders, data visualization and real-time feedback; privacy respecting data management; and extensible data exploration. All captured data are automatically timestamped, geocoded and uploaded for analysis and visualization."

Here's how you might use it, 

Field studies data collection. Using student provided (BYOD) devices, find the following (earth studies, botany, etc.) item and snap a picture, get the location, update field notes, upload, provide user feedback/motivation. At the backend of process, provide data feedback or a dashboard of the aggregated data.

In a real example, the NOAO has built an app to supplement the Globe at Night project. In the abstract, you can see how the move from a paper survey to a web application is increasing the data reported.

Other examples of mobile usage in instruction include the Online Polling Tool (OPT). An example of this usage pattern would be similar to the use of real-time surveys using "clickers" to gather feedback. A question is posed and answered by students using their mobile devices. The data is aggregated and might shape the conversation. 

OPT is a free tool that is hosted in the cloud and available to UCSC as part of our CENIC agreement. 

Responsive Web Design

The topic of responsive web design was prevelant. Design patterns that are difficult to present on mobile devices such as tabular data, responsive images, conference schedules and email were covered in several presentations. Many typical problems have javascript libraries included as part of their solutions. Other responsive design challenges  (e.g., email) are actually better served with tables, circa 2000.

JS Frameworks

Javascript framewords for single page design as well as javascript libraries was also a common theme across presentaitons. Rich Trott from UCSF presented his CampusKit project which "...makes it easy to create high-performance, touch-friendly websites and apps for mobile and tablet devices."  I heard lots of discussion on various js libraries including angularjs which gets a lot of high marks as an MVC framework. Node.js was also discussed in some presentations. I've been studying node.js on my own via a book deal I received recently.

Drupal and Mobile

One observation that I was happy to see was attendance by Stanford's Bryan Young (@hyperboy) who leads a team developing OpenFramework, a Twitter Bootstrap based Drupal 7 responsive theme I've been using on a couple of projects. UCLA is also working on Drupal templating in relationship to WebBlocks and I'm hoping they can do some additional collaboration that will benefit the community.

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