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Bianca Fuentes

Skill Pill

Account Executive

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Learning deconstructed: Mobile as anchor


Bianca Fuentes puts the smartphone front and centre of the learning strategy.

The Internet of Things

Rarely in this day and age do we come across a process in our daily lives which isn’t in some way touched by technology. We are connected as friends, families, and colleagues right across the globe by a vast network of technological interactions, and at the heart of these interactions we find the mobile device.

The mobile has already become the anchor device for watching videos, listening to music, reading books, taking pictures and getting directions – you have to wonder what else it will absorb or subsume. Why would you bother going through so many inefficient manoeuvres, when the phone can do it for you more efficiently? It’s almost becoming something of a Swiss-Army knife, encompassing any matter of functions. In terms of learning, why then wouldn’t it be able to hold all the components which you need to deliver against? 

Consumer learning has already adopted the app – you’ve got your golf app, your yachting app, your fitness app – as a result, it’s starting to influence enterprise and business learning. Business learning is based around practicalities and transactions – it’s about doing things better, and the cloud works to remove that which is inefficient. 

Mobile as learning, optimised

What then are the unique qualities of the mobile device which position it as a de facto way to learn?

  • Mobile devices (especially smartphones) are ubiquitous. Statistics account for over 2bn smartphone users worldwide, with mobile devices actually outnumbering the world’s population. What better way to reach people than on devices which they carry on their person throughout the day?
  • Mobile devices offer you more ways to get online. Local wi-fi spots, 3G, 4G, GPS; all enable us to access more online information more readily. Today knowledge lives in the cloud, ever expanding and accessible. Restricting yourself to a desktop or classroom is today just creating an artificial barrier to information.
  • Smartphones offer unrivalled opportunities for interaction. An oft-ignored aspect in the mobile learning debate that smartphones are, first and foremost, about interaction. They are not just about receiving information. They are about recording it and delivering it too. We know learning is faster and more thorough when there is great interaction between student and teacher. The smartphone is the information delivery tool 'par excellence'. We just have to be better at leveraging this capability.
  • Mobile learning is cost effective. Although there is an upfront cost for the device, smartphones are still the lowest cost solution to access the greatest amount of knowledge. Not only that, because they are always with us and 'on', the opportunity cost compared with any other device is minimal. 
  • Familiarity reduces the 'application learning curve'. The way we use and view content on mobile devices is far more standardised than on desktops. The usage of apps in the Android and iPhone environments means the die is cast when it comes to using content on them. That helps learners because they are not faced with yet another device learning curve.
  • There is a lower demand on time commitment. Marketing people will tell you that consumers' attention must be bought if want to deliver your message. Competition for that time is intense. In most people’s minds, mobile interaction comes with the guarantee that the interaction is short. Learners like this. Desktop learning too often suffers from the preconception that it will be a lengthy tedious diatribe. 
  • Mobile devices enable educators to easily 'flip' the classroom. Even the most diehard classroom providers are now recognising they can provide even better learning opportunities by ‘flipping the classroom’ – that is delivering facts, figures and case studies to students in advance of a seminar before working collectively on it. By far the easiest way to achieve that is to deliver it straight to the student’s mobile device so they can watch or listen to it at home. 
  • New types of device are increasing ways to learn. First there were simple mobiles, then smartphones, tablets and now wrist wearables. All offer new methods of data recording and data delivery. There will yet be more task-specific devices able to measure movement, position, timing, speed and other metrics all of which will provide learning feedback and performance data. Anticipating these devices is a practical impossibility. But we already have gadgets to analyse your golf swing, improve players’ footballing skills and other sporting prowesses. Watch out for a raft of new releases in the next few years. 
  • We’re already addicted to just-in-time learning. It doesn’t matter whether we’re arguing in the pub or sat at home watching TV – when we want to know a simple fact or understand a process, we Google it, turn to Wikipedia or YouTube. The mobile device is the natural access point. It’s the one we are most likely to have to hand. For many of us this habit is just second nature – and extending across a greater range of apps and services all the time. 
  • Mobile delivery wins every time when it comes to interacting with data. The large touch screen of a tablet is ideal for gesture-based interaction and engaging content. Game-based learning strategies are perfect for mobile delivery considering the popularity of gaming apps. 

Mobile learning: the only solution?

Of course mobile isn’t the most efficient form of learning for all situations. It sometimes doesn’t work as well for teaching new things; it’s far more at home reinforcing what you already know. It’s much better at informal, social collaborative learning, than formal, structured learning. Mobile channels are now opening for peer-to-peer feedback, but it’s a very different experience of self-awareness than you would gain from a good face-to-face, mentoring session. But the reality is that the mobile device is already the de facto learning solution for the majority of information in our lives.

Mobile learning pioneer Skill Pill produces engaging and impactful just-in-time learning and distributes it via mobile devices, tablets and PCs. Its learning takes the form of succinct animated videos, mobile apps, infographics, support documents and social tools. For further information visit or follow @skillpill on Twitter.

Author Profile Picture
Bianca Fuentes

Account Executive

Read more from Bianca Fuentes

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