The rapidly emerging challenge to the learning designer is how to embed all the  learning devices…PC/Laptop, Smartphone and Tablet to meet the learners usage patterns and suitability’s of these devices to the learners needs and organisations requirements. This is the “new blended learning” challenge, given that the levels of face to face training (that other component of the blend) appears to be in faster decline then previously realised.

Research published by Google places the UK in the top 6 for using smartphones. Growth in adoption levels has been over 20% in 1 year, and it is therefore no wonder that e-learning developers are moving fast to adapt to this trend.

It is not just the growth in usage that is of interest, but the way that Smartphones are being used that is equally fascinating. The research undertaken indicates they are being used in a way that is very interesting (or should be very interesting) to learning designers.

The anticipated rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to work and the patterns of usage of these devices must now be of paramount interest to the learning designer, and now thanks to this research from Google we now have some very useful insight as to how people interact with Smartphones in their everyday life, as well as with the other devices such as PCs and the internet services around them.

For those of us interested It is worth digging deeper into the usage patterns of this research (click on the link to look deeper into this research on a country by country basis. The research sample size was made up of only 1000 respondents in the UK, but nevertheless provided a fascinating insight into the role the Smartphone was playing in how people lived their lives.

Sadly for us no direct question was asked around how these devices were used in an e-learning context, but any learning designer or organisation seeking to leverage the smartphone for learning would do well to take note of the types of interactions people were making with their devices.

We have long been interested in the notion of “Second Screen” learning, we first came across the term in a posting by Elliot Masie, and it still hasn’t gained the prominence it deserves in our view.

This view is reinforced by the research uncovering that users of Smartphones very often undertook activities on their devices while undertaking other tasks or consuming media from other devices PCs, TVs etc….this is the second “second screen” factor . The “where” the devices are used – at work at home or on the move is equally important. The “how” the Smartphone is used (an App is downloaded and consumed, a search is made or an e-mail read or sent etc…). The “what” task the device is used for, (to check a product out, book an appointment, take a picture, upload a picture or video to share, for entertainment: watch a video or for social networking, or a little learning nugget we hope! etc….) and the frequency and duration of usage of a Smartphone interaction. These are all vital pieces of insight as to how a Smartphone and more importantly its user should be considered by the mlearning and e-learning designer creating this new multi device blend of e-learning.