Low-Bandwidth/Mobile Versions

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To do: Add exact specifics.

It's no secret that use of cellphones and other portable devices has increased dramatically over the past few years, though the growth rate may be slowing slightly (Reuters 2008). In fact, the number of so-called "smartphones," which have mobile internet capability, has also grown over the past few years. Although this growth brings exciting new possibilities, developing OER for mobile platforms can be challenging (Marshall 2008).

In addition to mobile platforms, there is also a great demand for educational materials that can be downloaded in third-world countries. Many developing countries do not have the same high-speed internet connections enjoyed by those in North America, Europe and parts of Asia (Aptivate Why). Developing for these audiences can be similar to developing for mobile devices.

But do developing countries really need my OER?

It's natural to question whether or not anyone in a developing country would actually use your resource. After all, the needs of developing countries seem so far removed from the needs of your classroom. There are three reasons why someone in a developing country might want your resources.

  1. As countries develop, their needs will become more similar to yours.
  2. Some elements of education and learning are universal and are applicable regardless of culture.
  3. Learning about other countries is often part of their curriculum.
  4. You can never fully know the benefits of your OER and you should extend every opportunity for your resource to be used.

See Aginam 2007 for more information.

For low bandwidth situations

Developing for low bandwidth situations is fairly easy and can created along with high bandwidth versions. While developing countries have differing bandwidth situations there are a few guidelines that can be followed to make low bandwidth OER.

In general, images should be less than 32KB and you should use as few images as possible. You can find the size of a particular file by right-clicking on the file and selecting "Properties"(Windows users) or "Get Info"(Mac users). The total size of text should not generally not exceed 25KB. Avoid using PDF's as they tend have large file sizes. Instead, use plain text and small images.

When designing a low bandwidth page, place the navigation links towards the top. Avoid using tables to create the layout of the page; instead, use a cascading style sheet(css) (Aptivate - outsourcing).

If you are unfamiliar with web development, consult with IT staff and ask them about developing for low bandwidth situations. If someone is assisting you in developing the OER, discuss with them how to make the OER suitable for low bandwidth.

For mobile development

Mobile development is very similar to low bandwidth development. The layout of the website is very important with mobile browsing, because mobile devices often have small screens that cannot display complex layouts with tables very well. Therefore, you should use cascading style sheets as much as possible. Try testing on different cell phones, if possible. More than likely, you'll see the OER display in several different ways. There is no way to guarantee that an OER will display correctly across all mobile devices. Therefore, it is recommended you try the OER in a few different mobile devices just to see how it looks, but not to get overly concerned if it appears poorly on several devices (Suda 2007).


Aginam, Emeka. (5 Dec. 2007). Berlin e-Learning Conference Calls on Govts to Embrace e-Education. The Vanguard Online. Retrieved 21 Mar. 2008 from http://www.owli.org/oer/node/2459.
Aptivate. Outsourcing Guide. Retrieved 21 Mar. 2008 http://www.aptivate.org/webguidelines/Outsourcing.html.
-. Why design your website for low bandwidth? Retrieved 21 Mar. 2008 from http://www.aptivate.org/webguidelines/Why.html
Marshall, Chris. (9 Feb. 2008). Smartphone growth continues to rise. Retrieved 21 Mar. 2008. http://www.gadgetell.com/tech/comment/smartphone-growth-continues-to-rise/
Reuters. (21 Mar. 2008). European Mobile Phone Growth Down in '07. http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/143673/european_mobile_phone_growth_down_in_07.html
Suda, Brian. (7 Nov. 2007). Designing and Developing mobile web sites in the real world, part 1. Retrieved 21 Mar. 2008 from http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/designing-and-developing-mobile-web-site/.
-. (7 Nov. 2007). Designing and Developing mobile web sites in the real world, part 2. Retrieved 21 Mar. 2008 from http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/designing-and-developing-mobile-web-site-1/