Snapple: Early provider of m-learning?

rubber band ballSometimes I get thoughts about m-learning in unusual ways. Today was one of those days that I had a spark of inspiration. It came by means of this little factoid I learned today:

“Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.”

Good info, short, sweet and to the point.

Where did I find this information? Not in a book, or online, or just word of mouth.

I learned it from a Snapple cap. Yup, you read that right–a Snapple cap. If you are a regular consumer of Snapple products as I am, you know that inside each cap of a Snapple product, there is a little factoid of information. Some of it resembles a “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”-type fact, some includes historical or matter-of-fact information, and some are just little tidbits of advice or wisdom.

Another little tidbit I once got in a Snapple cap was, “On average, a laptop uses half as much energy as a desktop computer.” I actually still have the cap. Why? Because it’s an important tidbit to remember when my husband bugs me that I should invest in a desktop instead of a laptop with my next computer, whenever that will be.  I can just hear myself saying, “See honey? I DO need a laptop. They will save us money on the electric bill, because they use less energy. I read it on a Snapple cap, and the caps don’t lie.” Do I collect Snapple caps? No, but if the spirit moves me, I’ll save one. I’ve been known to glue magnets on the back of them, and put them on my fridge.

So, what does this have to do with e-learning or mobile learning? I’ll tell you.

As I indulged in my current Snapple addiction of drinking the diet Snapple Trop-A-Rocka flavored iced tea during my lunch today, I had an ephiphany. It occurred to me that Snapple was an early adopter of mobile learning. How, you may ask?  Think about those Snapple bottle caps. They carry bite-sized pieces of learning, and the bottles (heck, just the caps, even) are portable, so you can carry the information with you. As mentioned before, the information is clear, consise, and cogent.

While I know I’m still a newbie at this m-learning gig, the one message that has come at me time and time again is that instructional design and formatting in mobile learning needs to adapt to current devices which, like Snapple caps, have a very finite, limited amount of space. If learners are to learn on smartphones or tablet devices, the information has to be distributed through smaller snippets of information, and be…yes, you guessed it…clear, concise, and cogent. A learner should gain a lot of information in that small snippet, and be able to retain the information and bring it with him or her.

So, if you think about it, while it’s not learning on an electronic device, Snapple caps provide an excellent example of how mobile learning on electronic devices should be. They should provide information in a short, memorable, direct, and if possible, entertaining way to help retain the information.

Can Snapple be considered an early provider of m-learning, then, since Snapple has been around for longer than any of these smart devices?

I’d like to think so.

Note: No Snapple caps were harmed in the making of this blog post. 

About TechCommGeekMom

Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who has recently started her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, and BASF North America, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog, TechCommGeekMom.com, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/daniellemvillegas, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog.
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