A phenomenon that can be classified as anything from multitasking to plain distraction is getting more popular as smartphones get smarter and tablet computers more ubiquitous: the use of the “second screen“.
It is common now to have at least one person (if not everyone) in the living room watching as movie on TV while, at the same time, checking what their friends are saying on Facebook, Twitter, or simply researching the lead role’s biography on Wikipedia. Whatever they are doing on the little screen, it seems that nowadays the big screen is not enough. People crave more. People want to connect with others and with information outside what they see on the big screen. Often, at least in my family, it is an interaction around the content of the TV, tagging it in Into_Now, and telling their friends on Facebook that they’re watching it and following up on comments about the same post.
ReadWriteWeb reports that 86% of people using their mobile device do so while watching TV. Of those, 33% use mobile apps, 37% browse non-related content, 40% are social networking, while 60% are texting with friends and family. It’s the rise of social TV which so far comprises mostly of static content (TV) coupled with dynamic, social activities (social networking, Web browsing, mobile apps, check-ins into shows and movies).
Disney offers an iPad / PC application called Second Screen which live syncs with the Blu-Ray movie on the TV and provides different content that supplements the movie: games, flipbooks, photo galleries with sketches, trivia about the movie, etc.
How would this second screen experience affect Education? What if, instead of banning smartphones and tablets, teachers in K12 encouraged synchronous exploration of concepts “synced” with what the teacher is discussing?What if in corporate Education, we saw complimentary interactions and information that gave students a better understanding of what the instructor is explaining or even interact with other students in a backchannel discussion around the topics in class?
Many already use in conferences, for instance, Twitter streams as a means to have a backchannel discussions in different sessions. Can we to go beyond that, explore other forms of “second screen experiences” at events, in the classroom, outside the classroom?
How can we combat some of the potential negative aspects of the second screen in the classroom, like distraction, lack of concentration? Can we produce second screen experiences that are channeled. guided and enhances attention rather than distract the learners? How can we employ this concept in online learning environments (being them synchronous live virtual classrooms or self-paces asynchronous experiences)?
Many questions, exciting exploration.
Food for thought: here’s a blogger’s take on how second screen experiences could be used not only in entertainment but also in politics, for instance.
Perhaps second screen experiences in Education will be a trend in 2012, with more an more mobile devices in consumers’ hands.