Author Profile Picture

Gerry Griffin

Skill-Pill M-Learning

Company Director

Read more from Gerry Griffin

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Learning Has Evolved – your mobile, YOUR space


In my previous 2 blogs I took you on a journey to the world of mobile learning (or m-learning); and then through the theoretical elements – Park’s pedagogy of m-learning.

Yet the ubiquitous device that is mobile is facing some competition from tablets and now mini tablets but there’s something different about a mobile device and a portable one.

Tablets are touch screen, super-charged laptops built for multi-media experiences, browsing and messaging.  Laptops are still (currently) the domain of mobile computing for reports, spreadsheets and slide deck production.  So there is a difference between those 2 pieces of hardware?

 Mobiles though are distinct from the other 2 portable computing devices.  Very distinct especially in the psychology of how we use it.  The tablet and the laptop are tools and equipment to use.  The mobile is very much your digital friend; your helper/guide/enabler.

It WILL get you out of trouble if you’re lost or need to order a replacement train ticket; it will ping you a message to avoid missing your flight check-in; it will give you some comfort and distraction when that flight is delayed and you’re in the terminal (with your novel in your checked-in suitcase).  It’s as much a digital tool for socialising as it is considered anti-social.  We are often immersed in our mobile phone; we check it before we go to sleep and as soon as we wake up.  It gives us news, updates from friends, business information and fun, music and games.

Of course through forward thinking organisations like Skill Pill, we can now see the mobile device as a just in time learning tool; as a portal to access learning-based cloud content as we need it in a short but impactful burst; and as a social learning device through the network we have and our digital infrastructure the mobile accesses.

It feels like it is our device to control; to enable; to liberate.  So what happens when we are then “infiltrated” with content we may not want?  Yes, I’m talking about mobile advertising.

If you scour the web for those hawkers looking for the next big money spinning space, it’s adverts on mobiles.  But before we hit the panic button, aren’t we already used to internet banner ads, pop-ups and targeted marketing through Google ads; Facebook feeds and so on?  Don’t we already know that much of the free internet is because it’s paid for by ads?

Why would we be so worried about infiltrated content to our mobile device?  I already receive texts from my mobile operator on special offers.  I’m used to emails popping into my account which, if I don’t want the goods/service I simply delete.  I guess it’s spam, but it’s not that intrusive and troublesome that I need to go on a rant about it.  Spam and junk filters on email have improved this terrifically and it is largely sites I’ve purchased from who mail me – and that’s sound as there’s a correlation between past and future purchasers, so this makes sense and is largely, as I said unintrusive.

It’s also important to understand where the advertising “infiltration” will come from and whether or not this really will spoil “our device”.  After all, our mobile phone is our space; our device.  Not some big screen desktop where advertising space barely even registers to some people as the content they are after is in prime position, with the ads on the periphery.  And this is really important – screen real estate – as the programmers say.  We clearly need to mindful of the optimum positioning of buttons; form fields and content so the reader/user of the content/interaction has a good experience.  A poorly designed web page could lose companies millions in revenue.  So, with a smaller (but admittedly increasingly optimised) mobile phone screen, where does the advertising go?  Will it clutter the screen so you can barely see the content you actually wanted?  This needs careful thought if advertising on mobile phones doesn’t ruin the advances made and the usefulness of the device.  In one aspect of the interaction, smaller screens means optimised advertising space for those whose SEO deployment puts them at the top of the list versus those who are lower down the pecking order and mobile users won’t find in the smaller space.

Our own posture towards use of mobiles versus laptops/tablets is also significant. When we’re on our mobile, we’re often standing in queues; waiting or travelling.  When we’re on a laptop/tablet, we’re often sat down.  So there’s something very different about the interface and experience – when we’re on our mobiles – pull mode.  On our laptop/tablet – push mode. Our usage (depending on posture and environment) means advertisers would be unwise to replicate tablet/laptop methods to mobile – the interface and conditions are different.

And our argument for m-learning to be bespoke and not miniaturised e-learning is built on the same case.

The psychological, physical and environmental status of the user on a mobile phone is different to that on another portable or fixed computing device.

Anyway, back to WHERE are the mobile ads going to appear?  My thoughts and some research on articles around this topic show that it will appear in a number of ways: -

·  Apps – as more free apps are developed, they hinge on advertising income to make free still viable.  Banners appear as an interim click screen; or as a scrolling footer.  Largely not too obtrusive.  We’re – I suspect – already getting used to App-based ads.  Over $2bn is generated from app-based ads growing daily.

· Local search-based ads.  So you are new in town, want to know somewhere to eat and either an app or a web-search will be loaded with ads promoting special mobile-only offers for certain restaurants in your proximity.  Minicab firms, cinemas and other social outlets may also pop up and feature so this is contextualised advertising.  Knowing where you are, what you’re after and what else might be applicable could be lucrative for people in attracting your business.

·  Video play/rollover animation.  Short bursts of ads whilst looking for – say the latest James Bond film teaser trailer is preceded by a showcase for a bottle of lager in a mini-spoof film before the actual clip you are after loads and plays.  As long as this is short in duration, it plays to the user – you want a film clip?  Sure here’s a tiny ad though just to juxtapose click and play.  Too long and people will get annoyed; too intricate to exit and people will be frustrated.  Clever ads are needed here but ad people are rarely short on clever.

What’s this have to do with m-learning you say?  Well it is our attitudes to mobile phones which will herald in an age of learning content being consumed this way.  If advertising on the mobile infiltrates that personal space then people will not turn to their mobiles as their always used channel, they will be more selective and may not be as primed to instigate learning content if they have to wade through layers of ads.

With the likes of the Skill Pill and  other video-based learning coming to the mobile more readily with faster downloads and play speeds, if there are ad interruptions it might detract from a learning experience so much that people dial down this channel and it will be a hugely missed opportunity.

So I guess this is still about the evolution of learning and the power and potential of mobile phones becoming the learning device of choice.  Always-on learners having access to learning content wherever they need it is a bright future for learning indeed.  We’re probably not far away from someone doing their ENTIRE degree studies via a mobile phone and that would be an amazing development for someone who otherwise would be denied that education.

So when we talk about the mobile phone as a learning device, we need to be mindful of everything else that is going on in that small-screen space – especially ads.  It is my feeling that mobile advertising will liberate content and tools available for the device and run the risk of a slightly more annoying environment which may inhibit its ultimate usefulness.

So it is not only learning that has evolved, it’s advertising that is evolving too.  More contextualised, usage-aware advertising on our mobile phones could see the biggest shift in ad spend since the TV was first introduced.  We need to be mindful of what this “infiltration” will mean for the overall mobile user experience as there will be a lot of content providers vying for our attention on our mobile phones.

The future’s bright, a mobile network provider once told us.  Let’s hope it’s not too cluttered to see the brightness...#rewireyourlearning

Author Profile Picture
Gerry Griffin

Company Director

Read more from Gerry Griffin

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!