When designing for the mobile space, remember the mobile place.

There is currently a lot of effort by learning designers to cater their content for use on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Visually at least this makes a lot of sense. The screen real estate is precious, the nature of of mobile usage is focused – the user is generally focused into one screen or app, and navigation in all done by hand (or a finger really)

I have talked in the past on how our learner’s lives are full of distractions (think social media) and when designing lessons you should try and be part of that distraction, not compete with it. Methods such as a micro learning model (giving your users small, bite size lessons they can complete in a few minutes while still achieving a small goal or take away message), and taking advantage of different media types can aid in this.

As I have been traveling around to schools, offices and professional football clubs of late, it has become more apparent to me that the places this mobile learning takes place in can all quite different – and have a huge affect on the learning you want to happen.

In schools, though using mobile devices, our students are still (most of the time) in a classroom setting, sitting at desks with their teacher giving some direction and keeping students on task. In the office, we have lots of departments, working at different times and with a different focus, and the football club, well, just imagine trying to run a class after your students have just had 10 PE sessions in a row.

I’m afraid if you have read this far, I am not going to tell you the exact formula for this to work right (I’m still figuring it out) but I doubt there will be a one size fits all fix.

So far I have been experimenting with a range of different ways to use the mobile space in the varied mobile places.

With schools, I have been working with teachers and the content they create as a jumping off platform. For example, creating courses in iTunes U, presenting key content and facilitating classroom discussion, and then creating paths for students to choose to go down, on their own mobile device, and then meet back up with the rest of the class (iOS 9.3 will also include a bunch of handy tools to allow teachers to monitor and supervise this space)

In the business space, I have been focused on using the mobile platform of document creation and collaboration. Stressing that with platforms such as Google Apps, your office can be anywhere. The device you use to access it is really just a window to this online office, be it at work, home, or on the train. This has involved more training to change the mindset of how one works in an office space. Documents are no longer static but fluid, with everyone all able to work on the same digital page.

And finally, my work in sporting clubs has involved using the mobile devices as a way to engage in more active interaction. Getting players to use their phones for example to capture content and share experiences.

A lesson I designed using mobile tools, in this case, Move controllers (can you spot me in the background?):


As the way we learn and work continues to evolve, so will the places that this learning takes place. Keeping up with these changes is going to become even more important if we want to engage our learners, no matter where they are.


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