Google Survey on Cross Platform Behavior - Implications for E-Learning

Google has published an interesting survey into consumer cross-platform behavior. Not surprisingly the survey found the majority of our daily media interactions are screen based, that we are multi-screeners ie we use different screen devices, and that the device we choose to use is driven by context such as where we are, what we want to achieve and the time we have.

The survey found that we frequently move between our devices and that we currently use four main devices as follows:


We use devices for different purposes

I think the most interesting results for those of us involved in learning technology are about why people use the different devices for different purposes. The main differences the survey identified were as follows:

Computer use is greatest where the context is task orientated, requires time and focus, and requires a serious intensive research attitude. Usage is motivated by finding information and keeping up to date.

Smartphone use is greatest where the context is on the go as well as at home, where there is a requirement to connect and communicate, where time is short and we need things quickly. The main usage is motivated by communication and entertainment.

Tablets are primarily used at home and the context is relaxed and leisurely. The main usage is motivated by entertainment.

The detailed survey results were as follows:

Interestingly 60% of smartphone use was actually in the home.

What does it mean for learning in businesses?

The growing use of different devices has implications for those of us involved in designing learning for improved business performance. The survey suggests that most serious learning which requires time and focus will continue to take place on a computer. However, the rise of smartphones means that where time is short and something is needed quickly people will look to use their smartphones, this is especially so if they are on the move. Thus designing performance support materials for the smartphone should be very beneficial. By contrast learning designed for tablets could work well if a more exploratory approach is used and has more entertainment orientated content as it is likely to be used in a more relaxed context .

These different approaches can be combined in a single responsive e-learning design approach where for example more detailed content on a larger screen can be adjusted to display as shorter performance support top tips on a phone sized device or replaced by a video when used on a tablet sized screen. These are early days but the ability of responsive design to adjust both format and content for different screen devices in a single version is very exciting.