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Slide to Unlock: learning design for the mobile learner
We are all mobile learners. It's in our DNA. If you have access to a mobile device, to confine your learning to a classroom, online course or exhibition hall is to go against the very nature of how you learn.
Knowing has never been a static process, but only now are we starting to connect the potential of mobile technology with our natural propensity for dynamic, responsive and viral learning.
As ownership and usage of technology rise sky high and expectations for the content it delivers rise with it - faster, smarter, effortless, social - has e-learning kept up? Or is it simply cramming itself into the 4" format when it should be reinventing itself accordingly?
• What lessons from the past can we take into future of learning design?
• What are the gaps in the current approach to designing learning for mobile?
• What will be the radical designs that tap into the best of mobile technology and help us fulfill our potential as mobile learners?
By mobile devices we mean laptops, tablets and smartphones. Interestingdefn that true mobile could be defined as sufficient battery power to be always with you. See book.55% of UK households now have tablets
Regardless of the source, organizations are still deploying content that is simply too big to be highly effective on mobile devices. The average length of a mobile video is 9.5 minutes -- not unbearable, but still not short enough for the typical mobile viewer. The story is similar for performance support materials (12.3 minutes) and games (18.1minutes). While content is king, it also represents the biggest challenge facing mobile delivery. Between redeploying legacy content and developing new material, survey respondents reported that this was the biggest hurdle. They know the learner interest and adoption is there, as well as the business case, so these things no longer stand in the way. However, security, cost, and connectivity issues join content at the top of the list of concerns."Going Mobile" is one of the lighter moments on Who's Next. It was originally conceived as part of Townshend's abandoned Lifehouse project. Townshend described the use of the song in the proposed project as follows: "As the story unfolded, because of the vagaries of the modern world, because of pollution being caused mainly by people's need to travel, to be somewhere else. (People) had been told, 'You can't do that anymore. You have to stay where you are.' But people have got this lust for life, and adventure, and a bit of color." It celebrates the joys of having a mobile home and being able to travel the highways at will – Townshend himself had acquired a mobile home about a year before the song was recorded. An example of the theme is illustrated by such lyrics as:I don't care about pollutionI'm an air-conditioned gypsyThat's my solutionWatch the police and the taxman miss meI'm mobile"The boom in smartphones shows no sign of abating as forecasters said today that three quarters of the UK would own one by 2015.Media agency ZenithOptimedia predicts that another 10 million people will be glued to their iPhones and Androids over the next three years as smartphone ownership jumps from 55.2% to 75.5% of the population.By that time 25% of the UK population will also own a tablet, but internet TV will remain relatively rare at about 3% ownership.http://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/smartphones-tipped-to-dominate-uk-by-2015-but-ireland-storms-ahead-8489971.html
This the challenge facing us learning designers.The research indicates trying to get too much in but this is a HINT that it's following the same old constructs, assumptions, of traditional e-learning.
Responsive is clever in that it enables us to publish once.The stats hint at the idea that there's a danger all the old stuff is simply being shunted across to the new devices. Responsive is as much a threat as it is an opportunity in this regard. The threat being that one size fits all. Technology Content "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" ('Won't get fooled again' by The Who)Lump it all into one Squidging e-learning as we know itSame old same oldA web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices CSS3 Media queries allow the page to use rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on (e.g. browser width) includes inclusion/ exclusion of selected contentResponsive =
The stats hint at the idea that there's a danger all the old stuff is simply being shunted across to the new devices. Responsive is as much a threat as it is an opportunity in this regard. The threat being that one size fits all. Technology Content "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" ('Won't get fooled again' by The Who)Lump it all into one Squidging e-learning as we know itSame old same oldA web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices CSS3 Media queries allow the page to use rules based on characteristics of the device the site is being displayed on (e.g. browser width) includes inclusion/ exclusion of selected contentResponsive =
Reading - Watching - Listening -Interactive video – PushingExamples The rise of storytelling…
Podcasts reach Peruvian villages The podcasts are downloaded at a telecentre before broadcastIn Peru's remote Andean mountains, villages like Chanta Alta only have electricity for two hours a day. Despite this, a new pilot project is using podcasting to get important agricultural information to farmers. The farmers do not yet have the means to listen on portable MP3 players. But UK charity Practical Action has married old and new technology to podcast twice-monthly updates to eight information centres in the Cajamarca region. Expansion hopesThese telecentres, many of which are run on solar power, automatically download the programmes onto CDs to rebroadcast them on local radio stations.ZIMBABWEPodcasts are helping people progress from subsistence farming in Zimbabwe, says Practical Action researcher Lawrence Gudza.The rural district of Mbire is home to small agricultural communities. It has no electricity, land line telephones or mobile phone infrastructure. And its few roads are unpaved and frequently washed away by floods, leaving large areas inaccessible for weeks or months at a time. Information on crop and livestock production and management has traditionally been compiled by government agencies and disseminated by agricultural extension officers by word of mouth or through brochures and posters (which many cannot read). Local communities had no opportunity to input into process or give feedback. Practical Action aimed to address these issues with podcasts, noting that successful podcasting — regardless of the setting — is driven by three critical components: people, content and technology.First, we sought to involve all stakeholders in identifying content to meet local agricultural production and management needs. Government extension officers worked with local authorities, community representatives and other development workers over six months to produce, edit and package 32 podcasts.The podcasts are in local languages, recorded by members of local communities. To capture listeners' attention, they use different formats, including dialogue.Then we selected a number of MP3 players to play the podcasts. They are powered by batteries — so the lack of mains electricity in the district is not a problem — and cost US$100 a set. When charged, the batteries last more than 40 hours, which allows up to 2,800 local people to listen to the podcasts over two weeks. The players are housed in mobile 'knowledge libraries' that anyone can access. Each is issued with two sets of rechargeable batteries that a local partner replaces at least once a fortnight.
"The boom in smartphones shows no sign of abating as forecasters said today that three quarters of the UK would own one by 2015.Media agency ZenithOptimedia predicts that another 10 million people will be glued to their iPhones and Androids over the next three years as smartphone ownership jumps from 55.2% to 75.5% of the population.By that time 25% of the UK population will also own a tablet, but internet TV will remain relatively rare at about 3% ownership.http://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-news/smartphones-tipped-to-dominate-uk-by-2015-but-ireland-storms-ahead-8489971.html
Right here – arguably the start of the mobile revolution. This simple action is now so ingrained in our daily lives – possibly one of the best examples of mobile practices becoming part of our tacit, everyday practices. Small, simple gestures can lead to powerful learning outcomes.
Three concepts that define the best mobile experiences. Push and pullRecording and sharingKeeping it real (device isnt a barrier)I believe in stealing things that work. These are things we can take from people already doing it right…
Pushing: when a vendor sends content to a device. Happens at the vendor's discretionPulling: when a consumer requests content from a device.Happens at the consumer's discretionContent value is defined by supply and demand – does it make sense to me right here, right now?Pushing properly is especially important for mobile because there's no excuse for NOT being relevant. If content is relevant it has value, and relevance is a function of supply and demandMobiles are with is most of the time and include technology that can pinpoint our location, what we're doing, etc
Ban.jo, Highlight, SonarAll about REAL TIME - Removes the need to plan so far ahead, set reminders etc. Content is NOW.More than just location based – connected to my online social profiles e.g. likes, interests, recent activityService-defines when it's meaningful to send the push (user doesn't control it)"We index and curate breaking news and events faster than any organization on the planet so that you have an all-access pass to anything, anywhere.""By alerting you to friends nearby and other interesting people, Sonar reveals small world moments you'd have otherwise missed."Content goes viral based on community 'tastemakers' – curation of meaningful content happens in real time within communities of interestGoogle Calendar APIApplications can create, edit and search for calendar events.Could we see content pushed via calendar entries in a similar way ads are pushed via mail content?E.g. Thursday – start staff appraisals. Monday – push line manager training
The app store: a brilliant example of users pulling contentApps are downloaded at a point of need: e.g. Shazam (what's this song?); Google Maps (I'm totally lost); Apple Maps (I want to get totally lost); TripAdvisor (where's safe to eat?); Angry Birds (this meeting is so boring); etcApps are rated so users have control over what they consume – the community has an inbuilt feedback loop to help curate the best contentRelevant apps are easy to find in the catalogue and can be opened within minutes of the initial request. The apps are easy to delete, and can be downloaded again at a later time if neededThink of your mobile content like an app – can users pull it easily?
Tracking is no longer about pass or fail, complete or incomplete.Broaden your definition of 'tracking' - your design should require evidence beyond quiz performance or slide completion. Your tracking logic should be based on performance in the real world. Remember – we like to record what we're doing as part of the feedback loop. Feedback is validating, reassuring, and helps create meaning for an activity – mobile content should be trackable in the real world, and mobile apps should facilitate tracking of real activity. TinCanRecording experiences we can learn from and share
Great example: FuelbandCombination app and website – use both in conjunction to track progress and find resourcesMobile app helps users track calorie intake and exercise achievements in real time.Variety of engaging ways to record activity and track progress – user inputs data, GPS tracks run distance, fuel band tracks movementCan be used in combination with other apps for novel experiences:
Ref twitter app and tweet deck – saving tweets and status updates is disingenuous.
The irony is that the most famous picture of the event was of people taking pictures, rather than the pictures they were taking.They were connected, but not to the event happening before them. They were connected to the device and to their social networks, but not to the world around them. They wanted to capture and share, and that disrupts the experience.
We must keep a focus on real behaviours and real practices – it's no good having a population of learners that can get a high score evacuating a virtual burning office, but who'd burn alive tweeting about it. . We need to avoid 'second life syndrome'
To do this, we need to push the boundaries of what we think of as 'mobile' – not just phones and tablets.What do we really need from our mobiles? What is the mobile learning philosophy?Access to learning at the right time, in the right placeMobile learning doesn't divorce us from our real physical practicesRelevant, meaningful recording and sharing
2014 – the of wearable mobile technologyIntel: Edison: dual core PC – size of an SD cardJarvis: earpiece (Glass minus the glass)Smartwatch: integrated with phone and earpieceAll together an enveloping world of mobile devices for mobile learners.
Closing:Content must be meaningful, and that means being with us in the right place, at the right time, and meeting our need fully.Push at the right time or be discardedAllow people to pull content, and don't be worried when they discard it.Sharing is caring – people share things for a reason, and nobody shares things they don't find meaningful. Mobile devices have an array of technology that we don't use. Get creative about how you ask learners to track their progress and what you ask them to share. Encourage people to share stuff that actually matters. Forget high scores and completion statuses – I want to share places I've been, actions in the real world, people I've met. Don't allow mobile to detract from real practicesDon't design something that forces people to be glued to their 4inch screens – give people time to look up
Slide to Unlock: learning design for the mobile learner
Slide to unlock – learning
design for the mobile learner
Caroline Freeman – Senior Learning Designer
Rich Calcutt – Learning Designer
Where we're coming from
A learning design
• Impact of mobile
• Future designs
(the old and the new)
Mobile learning very or extremely effective:
Brandon Hall survey Mobile Learning 2013
Can do better
Organisations still deploying content too big to be
highly effective on mobile devices.
length of a
Brandon Hall survey Mobile Learning 2013
Responsive web design
One design to rule them all?
Horses for courses
Design for the device:
• Football scores – mobile (reference)
• Video highlights – tablet (browsing)
• Match report, analysis, tables, stats –
The end of the e-learning module
as we know it
From laser disc
The moral of the story… so far
• Radically responsive design - using the
devices the way people want to use
• Remember reading, watching, listening
• ‘Interactive’ is more than a screen type
Three concepts that define the best
1. Push and pull
2. Recording and
3. Keeping it real
1. Push and pull
Content value is defined by supply
Mobile technology means there's no excuse
for being irrelevant.
Content pushed in real time to meet an
The service defines what's meaningful using
"By alerting you to friends nearby and
other interesting people, [the app]
reveals moments you'd have otherwise
Curation happens in real time within
communities of interest.
The App Store
Apps are downloaded at a point of need:
Shazam – "What's this song?"
Google Maps – "I'm lost"
Apple Maps – "I want to get lost"
TripAdvisor – "Where's safe to eat?"
Angry Birds – "This seminar is boring"
Users curate the most relevant content.
Content is disposable.
Think of your mobile
content like an app
– can users
pull it easily?
If you're going to push
something, make it
relevant and meaningful.
Let me find what I need
when I need it.
2. Recording and sharing
On a PC, we're often
detached from our
Mobiles come with us
into the arena of
practice – they are by
our side when we're
learning and doing.
• Tracking is no longer about pass or fail,
complete or incomplete
• We must broaden our definition and allow
learners to track what they want, how they
• Feedback is validating and helps create
meaning – mobile apps should facilitate
tracking real activity
Tracking can be more
than a quiz score –
record what learners
Users record activity and
track progress in real time
"Log your activities to trick
your brain into turning
actions into habits."
Learning designs for mobile should include
tangible milestones that can be tracked with
• Voice recording
• "Checking in"
Today I went mountain biking.
"I share, therefore I am" – Sherry Turkle
• Share anything
• Friends & family
• Increasingly boring
– parent zone
• Share 140 characters
• Celebrities and
• Still relevant
• Share photos
• Mostly food
• Time limits
• Reclaiming content
• In the moment
…What we share is getting more spontaneous, more meaningful.
What we share must feel authentic and genuine in a specific
moment. We can do this with mobile.
3. Keeping it real
Mobile technology is a great thing, but it
has its challenges.
the better or
We must avoid
'second life syndrome'
– mobile cannot be
a retreat from
real life activity.
We need to push the boundaries
of what we think of as 'mobile'.
What is the mobile learning
• Access to learning at the right time, in the
• Mobile learning doesn't divorce us from our
real physical practices
• Relevant, meaningful recording and sharing
To me, this epitomises the mobile philosophy
• Removes physical barriers to practice
– frees our eyes and hands to see
• Information on demand overlaid
onto the world on front of us
• Built for sharing experiences
• Reduced time and space between
learning, doing, recording and
We must avoid
any temptation to think
about 'normal' e-learning
on such devices –
this is a new paradigm.
Intel: 2014 – the year of wearable
Intel: 'Edison', 'Jarvis', Smartwatch. An enveloping world of
mobile devices for mobile learners.
Don't allow mobile
to detract from
real practices and
Content must be
meaningful - right
place, right time,
Sharing is caring –
we share things for a
reason, and nobody
shares things they
don't find meaningful.
"The future is on its way,
and it is going to be on
We need to think about it and
be ready for it in a way we
weren't with smartphones.
While you and I may make fun
of 'Glassholes' today, come
tomorrow we're all going to
be right there with them, or at
least very close by.
Wearables are where we're
going. Let's be ready."
– Matt Honan, Wired
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