Episode 12: And the Future Will Be Mobile

by Feb 14, 2020

Welcome to Education and Technology Futures, a videocast that highlights interesting trends and connections in the worlds of education, technology, and culture.

A recent report on mobile web traffic by SimilarWeb reminds us of the modified user behavior influenced by mobile modalities. After all, even large smartphone devices still have that fits-in-one-hand form factor. It’s interesting to think about how education, with its big screen and big-stage mentality, will adapt to “smaller” in the next decade.

Full Transcript

Full Transcript

SimilarWeb has a new report out that documents the increased use of mobile devices for interacting via the web. 

According to the report, mobile web traffic has jumped more than 30% since 2017, while desktop traffic dropped more than 3%. The report also notes that mobile website visitors behave differently from their desktop web counterparts. For example, mobile users spend less time on websites. The overall time per visit dropped by 49 seconds from 2017 to 2019.

Now, my guess is that anyone who uses a smartphone with any frequency or interacts with others who use smartphones is not too surprised by this “smaller” attention span when it comes to surfing the web. In fact, you might argue that the core reality of mobile computing is “smaller.”

I’m talking about smaller screens and smaller information blocks. Shorter video clips. Shorter emails and messages. Smaller attention spans.

Heck, even with new device designs like the forthcoming Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone, or Microsoft’s Surface Duo with its two screens, we’re still talking about a preference for doing most things with one hand — while we walk, while we talk, while we ride, while we work, and while we eat.

And, whether we like it or not, this fits-in-one-hand form factor has a huge influence on our preferences for usage. In other words, as long as the screens are small, the way we use the devices will continue to be small.

I’m thinking this could portend some pretty interesting adjustments in education over the next 10 years, as smartphones likely become the dominant computing device for most students.

After all, traditional education is all about “big.” Big information blocks. Big writing assignments. Longer video clips. Longer communication forms. Longer attention spans.

So how will we translate all of that “bigness”  into a smaller form factor and to a modified set of behaviors?

It’s something to think about. But don’t wait too long. Businesses and workplaces are already adapting and will be expecting graduating students to show up ready to perform on a smaller stage.

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