Think Multiscreen (vs. iPad-only) when developing an mLearning Strategy

One thing I stress in my mLearning workshops is the fact that having an iPad-only strategy for Learning is not a thorough mLearning Strategy.

Granted, the iPad accounts for 91% of all tablet web traffic and that statistic alone is compelling enough to make you want to focus your entire learning development efforts on just this tablet, however as you think about your own mLearning strategy, I strongly encourage you to think instead about the multiscreen world we live in and develop for it.

Right now, we have the traditional desktop PCs and Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones, but it’s not too early to start thinking also about smart TVs, game consoles and dashboards in cars, and why not the foldable screens of the future. As content developers, our mission is to make sure our stuff will be accessible by our audiences from any of these screens and in ways that provide a great experience on each one of these many screens.

In this post I want to share with you a great presentation I found on Slideshare, that inspired me for my workshops, and that helps me make a case for developing a multiscreen mLearning strategy vs. an iPad-only strategy.

The presentation has some of the most impressive and concise slides I’ve seen on the topic of multiscreen development, and it’s by a German company called Precious Design Studio.

The presentation is based on the simple idea that: “More and more people interact in an “ecosystem of screens“.

So True!

The company goes on to say that:

During the last years, our design studio has been involved in many different projects – from designing mainly websites and desktop software in our early days, to smartphone apps, prototypes for TV interfaces and more recently, applications for tablet devices.

Working for all those devices was interesting and challenging. Not just because of the diverse screen sizes and input methods, but because we learned in our user research how different the contexts are in which these gadgets are used.

Even more interesting, however, is the question how those devices relate to each other. What does it mean for the digital products and services we are designing, when PCs, smartphones, TVs and other electronic devices are connected? What implications does it have on the interfaces, if people are interacting in an ecosystem of screens?

via Multiscreen Patterns | precious, strategic design & visual language.

Precious Design Studio’s presentation was most likely aimed at audiences of web designers, but I think it’s 100% applicable to us transitioning from eLearning to mLearning, too.

Interacting in an ecosystem of screens

For one thing, today’s connected Learners interact in an ecosystem of screens. So for us in the Learning Industry, it should not be just about designing great isolated learning experiences that may only be consumed on desktops and iPads, it’s also about developing a multiscreen strategy that will make our content accessible anywhere, especially as Learners acquire more devices and begin expecting that their ‘learning’ follows them as they shift between devices.

Three Patterns of an Ecosystem of Screens for mLearning

Precious Design Studio discovered six patterns of the ecosystem of screens, however I think three apply to us and provide a great blueprint for how we should approach our learning design.

1. Coherence in Multiscreen Learning Design

This could just be the most important patterns for us, because we need to make sure our learning experiences are not just accessible through PCs, Laptops, and multiple devices, but that we optimize our content to take advantage of each screen’s capabilities and the context in which our learners use each device. This is where I believe Responsive Web Design will play a big role moving forward.

2. Synchronization in Multiscreen Learning Design

This is another pattern to keep in mind when designing for a multiscreen world. All of us mobile users expect the products and services we use to not only follow us from device to device but to remember where we left off on one device and continue from there on the next device. The presentation mentions the Kindle ecosystem as an example (see slide 13 in the original presentation). I would also put the Netflix experience as an example in this category.

3. Device Shifting in Multiscreen Learning Design

This is another important trend for us to keep in mind as we design the next generation of learning experiences. Most of us already own one of more desktop PCs, perhaps a Laptop, at least one tablet, one smartphone if not more, and throughout the day, chances are we reach for the device that is closest to us. So let’s design with this device-shifting in mind.

Don’t get me wrong, the other patterns in the presentation are also important, and as time goes by we will surely find creative ways to design learning experiences, where devices will complement each other to provide an amazing experience, like the Scrabble app on the iPad and iPhone (see slide 19 in the original presentation), as well as perhaps use our smartphone or Tablet to take a quiz while consuming the main course on the big screen TV.

I leave you with the presentation below and if you are interesting in hearing more of my thoughts on multiscreen design, embracing simplicity and thinking mobile-first, join me and the eLearning Guild for a presentation on mLearning, October 16th HERE.

Furthermore, if you are interested in learning more about what’s convered in the 4hr mLearning workshop I’m delivering to companies, click HERE.

[slideshare id=8112705&doc=precious-patterns-for-multiscreen-strategies-110526101938-phpapp01]

Patterns for Multiscreen Strategies.

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