Apple Proves Mobile makes the Desktop better: A lesson for us in mLearning and eLearning

Like millions of people around the world, I too was glued to my computer on June 11 2012, following closely every news announcement Apple shared at their annual WWDC event.

As always they unveiled a number of new and amazing things, like the new MacBook Pro, which now sports a Retina Display, similar to the new iPad. The next version of Apple’s iOS was also shown and it comes with some nice features, including Passbook and Maps, just to name a few.

All that is well and good, however what really caught my eye is what Apple is adding to their new version of the Mac OS X, Mountain Lion, which according to Apple’s site will be available next month.

I have been observing that Apple has slowly been borrowing features from the iPhone and iPad (i.e. iOS) and bringing them into their Mac operating system. It started with Lion last year when they included multi-touch gestures via their magic trackpad and this trend continues with Mountain Lion’s mobile-first features, such as the upcoming Notification Center, Dictation, AirPlay, and Game Center.

My key takeaway from this is that Apple is taking everything they have learned from creating a great mobile experience on the iPad and iPhone, and now leveraging that in order to achieve the same amazing experience on the desktop.

I’m not sure this was their original plan, but the reality is that by thinking mobile-first they now are able to make the desktop experience better. And that’s a lesson all of us can benefit from.

How can this be applied to designing learning experiences?

I think we should approach learning design in a very similar way, by thinking mobile-first and desktop second. Even if you are still not ready for mLearning, I feel you could still benefit from this approach.

I strongly believe that if we approach our learning design thinking mobile-first and then take what we learn back to our desktop, we will automatically and almost immediately make our eLearning better on the desktop.

In future posts (and at mLearnCon next week) I will be sharing more of my ideas on what I mean by thinking mobile-first but for now, I feel it’s about embracing simplicity in our mLearning design and sitting down and asking yourself what’s really important to the learner (e.g. are all those flying animations really necessary, what about all that text and buttons?), and then removing all the other extra fluff from the design. I believe this is an important exercise, that will result in better learning experiences across all devices, including the traditional desktop.

What do you think?

  • Chad Lowry

    Agreed, RJ, simple is better. Looking forward to hearing more details and ideas on this.

    • rjacquez

      Thanks, Chad. I agree with you, simple is definitely better for both mLearning and eLearning.

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