A Lesson in Mobile Learning Design from Yelp [#mLearning]


I love this tweet, because it epitomizes how most people view the mobile experience, often as the “light” version of the desktop:

I see this happening everywhere, including in organizations planning a Learning Strategy around mobile devices and desktops.

The problem is that it’s easy to make assumptions about the mobile user, we often picture him or her in a rush, trying to get many things done at the same time, all while holding a cup of coffee or a baby with one hand and a smartphone with the other.

Assumptions like these often lead to limiting the mobile learning use case to performance support or an insultingly light version of the much more powerful flash-based desktop version of the course.

But this may not always be the case, consider the results of a recent Google research project, which showed that 70% of mobile searches occur at home or at work and the rest on the go. And here’s another interesting statistic that came out of that same research, 77% of mobile searches are in a location (work or home) likely to have a PC available to them.

In other words there is such thing as an immobile mobile learner, someone who even though may have a PC within reach, would rather lean back with his or her Tablet or Smartphone and learn using those devices.

Another assumption we often make is thinking that something is too complicated and that no one will ever want to do that on mobile in a million years. Think again.

I was watching Charlie Rose interview John Donahoe, eBay’s CEO who said this:

“People are buying 8,000 cars a week on eBay’s mobile app.”

The lesson here is that if there’s something people do today on the desktop, they will also want to do that on mobile!

I got inspired to write this post when I read about the latest version of the Yelp app for iOS and Android.

It turns out that until now Yelp had only allowed their users to leave very short reviews in the way of “tips” using their smartphone app, likely because they thought no one in their right mind would want to use the virtual keyboards to leave a long review while inside a business or right after stepping out.

It turns out that mobile users wanted to do this much to Yelp’s surprise.

Here’s what Yelp said on their Blog:

Mobile phone usage has come a long way since the days of the hunt-and-peck, shorthand “C U L8R” texts. Nowadays, people are more mobile savvy and are becoming used to contributing long-form content directly from their device. These days, many people are interacting with Yelp solely through their mobile device. Which is why we’re introducing the ability to write and publish reviews on mobile! Yelpers can now contribute their useful, funny and cool reviews directly from their Yelp mobile application available today on iOS and coming soon to Android.

via Yelp Official Blog: Oh snap, Yelp app: now post reviews straight from your mobile device!.

Learners are ready for Mobile and it’s time to deliver powerful mLearning experiences!

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  • I’ve been thinking like this for a bit using it to push forward my mobile innovation agenda. This was a great post that gave me something absolutely solid to use in my journey towards bringing the company I work for into the mobile era. That quote specifically was priceless, I’m glad you brought it to my attention.

    I also noticed recently Yelp updated their app to let you write reviews from a smartphone, there are numerous occasions I can remember when I wanted to write a review but couldn’t. A while ago they introduced it on the iPad but that doesn’t go with me everywhere, it stays at home 90% of the time so I found it mostly pointless, but not completely.

    Good post, good for Yelp, hope this mentality spreads rapidly.

  • With well over 100million mobile subscribers in Nigeria and almost every student in the country now move around with their mobile set, M-Learning will quickly revolutionize Nigerian education system

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