Serif in Education

Bringing multi-channel viewing into the classroom

Nowadays, more and more of us (both adults and children) are watching things not only on our TV’s, but also on our iPad, tablet, android or iPhone… and often all at the same time. Let’s take our avid football fan as a good example of this. He (or she) might have the game on his TV, but also be:

1. Following his favourite football pundit’s Twitter account on his iPhone to get his reaction.

2. Checking the scores of other matches on his iPad.

3. Checking his Dream Team in his Fantasy Premier League account on his desktop computer.

And he’s still got time to chat to his friends on the sofa!

This is often referred to as multi-platform viewing. Gone are the days we relied on just our TVs and desktop computers. Now there are screens everywhere, all vying for our attention. We have more choice than ever. This has led to a new challenge for brands and advertisers: where do they advertise?  Brands often talk about ‘having a 360 degree view as the key to success’ in a multi-channel world – whether they’re in-store, online, using their mobile or tablet device, or watching TV, it is no longer enough for brands to limit themselves to one channel when it comes to attracting and keeping customers.

Research has shown that when analysing digital viewing habits, different channels peak at different times. Tablets tend to peak late in the evening, when people have come home from work. Smart phones often peak early in the morning, at lunchtimes and when people are travelling home from work. Desktop viewing tends to happen in lunchtimes or evenings.

There is also evidence to show that we watch different things on different devices. Reading maps is something that we nearly always now do on our smart phone whilst we’re out and about.

So which content fits which channel? As the number and variety of video screens grows around us, so does the need for content aimed at that particular device. One of the most interesting things about all these new digital devices is that they haven’t replaced each other – we still watch TV just as much as we used to – we just spend a lot more time using other digital devices too.

With the knowledge that we are likely to be looking at our smart phones whilst we are watching TV, many advertising campaigns now cover a range of channels at the same time. For example, a TV advert might ask its audience to check something out on Twitter, or visit its Facebook page. They aren’t showing the exact same content on each channel however – if you’ve just watched something on TV, you’re unlikely to go and watch the exact same thing on your smart phone – so increasingly they provide content on Facebook, for example, that you can’t get elsewhere. Content is not just regurgitated from one platform to the next, and this is key for students to know.

Children as digital natives

As far as multi-platform viewing goes, children are now growing up with this as the ‘norm’. Many toddlers are comfortable with using smart phones and tablets by the time they even reach nursery school. A big challenge for schools with just desktop computers therefore is that children are growing up as digital natives, but when they get to the school gates they have to leave that at the door.

Schools have responded to the increase in digital devices by investing in tablets to try and capture children’s attention. There has been criticism in some schools to the cost of this investment, but overall children are now used to using a variety of different technology in their classrooms.

This makes creating a ‘multi-platform project’ that bit easier, as students can try their ideas out on a range of different devices. In a multi-platform world, students need to be considering different channels when creating content in the classroom. Here are a few questions they need to be asking themselves:

If a website shows fine on a desktop computer, will it show the same on a smart phone?

Does new content need to be created for each channel?

Which content fits which channel?

How do I capture my audience’s attention across platforms?

How do I devise a brand marketing or advertising campaign to cover a range of channels and devices that links together?

New devices are constantly being developed but with the knowledge that many, like the humble TV, are here stay, we can be sure that this topic isn’t one that is likely to go away.