mLearning Simulations and Story…Encouraging Exploration…

“Precision oftentimes kills the ability of the learner to discover multiple real-life applications.”

There have been a couple of follow up blog posts to the WIRED article entitled: IN PRAISE OF VAGUENESS.

One notable blog post is here:  VAGUE STORIES HELP LEARNERS DISCOVER.

This is very consistent with the responses we’re receiving from ESL teachers that note how our ESL conversational simulations allow vague and varied responses — they don’t encourage precision and fixed responses — they encourage conversational exploration.  We allow the vague. 

Please stop by our unit and try out the simulation/stories developed with the contentAI engine. 

The articles are worth reading, here’s another quote. . .

“Sometimes, precision is dangerous, a closed door keeping us from imagining new possibilities. Vagueness is that door flung wide open, a reminder that we don’t yet know the answer, that we might still get better, that we have yet to fail.”

Does this same “wide open door” deepen user engagement for mobile marketing and entertainment applications?

We’re guessing, “yes.”

Conversational ESL and the contentAI Engine

Our mLearning subsidiary reach consumers in over 100 countries on over 140 mobile devices (just in the past month).  There’s a focus on certain markets where “conversational ESL” is clearly needed:

In looking at the China ESL market this past week the one big take-away was that despite being a $3-billion dollar/annual industry, people’s conversational skills are not being effectively addressed:

“At all levels very little class time is spent on everyday applications of English and conversation practice is rare. The result is students with a deep knowledge of grammatical rules who struggle to communicate…”

So, with over 100,000 teachers and an abundance of online learning tools and mobile tools (and a lot of money) – “Conversation” remains the leading problem.

The contentAI conversational engine and platform is ideally suited to address this need.  New simulations and a new user UX are in development to expand these efforts.

We like the cross-over between commercial, advertising, entertainment and mLearning — each vertical has nuanced needs, but, those solutions improve the platform for all verticals.


UPDATE:  For statistics on China and mobile, this was released this week:

Thoughts on MobilePortland’s “Myth of Mobile Context” Evening

Last night MobilePortland held their monthly meeting themed around “The Myth of Mobile Context.

It was terrific to see a panel gathered from a range of perspectives within Mobile – Including panelists from Nokia and Opera (almost felt like living in a real city): @globalmoxie, @ourmaninjapan, @tyhatch, @Hinman and @tkadlec

The premise of the evening was that all of our perceptions about mobile context are in flux.  People use their mobile devices in places, situations, etc. all co-mingled in such a manner that “contextual” awareness is, at best, fairly muddled.

So, what was the upshot?  Can “Mobile” add contextual value or not?

The general opinion was that it’s too early for mobile devices to be truly intelligent in terms of contextual awareness — While “location” is valuable contextual information, it can’t differentiate between (for example) being in Wal-Mart while casually wandering about and killing time (if that’s where you  kill time?)  and being in Wal-Mart with specific shopping intentions — Therefore, delivering a mobile experience that presumes one, or the other, fails to add true contextual value to the End User.


So, what was the take-away?

*  First, it was interesting that the discussion of “what constitutes “mobile” continues?  To my way of thinking, “mobile” is first and foremost a device that is a COMMUNICATOR.  We purchase them so that we can have two way communication with friends, family and business colleagues, whether by Tweets, Wall Posts, SMS, IM (continues to increase on mobile by 30% annually), in-App messaging – And, occasionally, voice.

Then, the cherry on top, are all the other features a “mobile” device can offer — but, at it’s heart, it’s a COMMUNICATOR FOR 2-way conversations.

*  While waiting for device and software “intelligence” to grok relevant contextual analysis and awareness — and provide added value to the End User — There’s a far simpler solution available today: Just ask them.

i.e. Use the 2-way “communicator” channel to engage and allow the User to specify the information that will add contextual awareness to the engagement.  Mobile devices are now packaged and sold as “messaging devices” (low data plan IM and light mobile browsing) — But, Developers seem hell-bent on bypassing the non-sexy text-level engagement that would add instant contextual value, in favor of future allusive technology solutions that are years away (not that people shouldn’t work on it; but, why not add value today?).


As we consider the range of advertising/marketing, mHealth and mLearning opportunities on mobile, we remain convinced that contextual value is readily added via textual communication (inclusive of communication via mobile web and in-Apps, where we deliver 2-way chat applications).

Of course, that’s what we’d think, since that’s the foundation of and our mLearning spin-off,

@MobilePortland is increasing in both size and sophistication — It’s becoming a “must attend” event, rather than something to occasionally drop in on — the conversations and perspectives are much needed as we all endeavor to create truly valuable mobile experiences for global users, in a plethora of contextual circumstances.



Our ESL Conversational Simulations now on APPup (Windows)

Our unit have now released their “build once” conversational ESL apps on Intel’s APPup store for Windows devices.

Here’s are the Links:

APPup appears to have a strong commitment to educational content — We’re pleased to be flowing through their channel, in addition to mobile web, Android, and NOOK.

Conversational Mobile Apps – Defining Products

Having been down this path before with developing emerging media technologies, it’s always a terrific moment when the business makes the transition from “defining technology” to “defining applications” to then “defining products.”

contentAI studios have been developing it’s technology for over a year while testing in various applications and seeing market response and adoption — Over the past month, the “product definitions” have become far more clear (at least, the initial product offerings, as there are others which will follow).

Conversational Mobile Campaigns — Motivated, directed conversational engagement with a purpose:  enter a contest, acquire a contextual mCoupon, engage in an entertaining interactive story. . .i.e. drive the User to take a specific action in an enjoyable exchange.

- Mobile FAQs — This is the economical version of the platform that allows a Brands mobile web site to deliver deep information and graphics without a complex user navigation or dense, unreadable text.

-  Conversational mLearning with emphasis on ESL — Our initiative is roaring along; the consumer-facing Beta apps are now accessed in over 100 Countries from both mobile web and Android app stores.  We’re keen to engage in partnership opportunities with ESL curriculum providers, schools and regional mobile content portals.


What are the future products?

Interactive eBooks with a focus on children’s entertainment and mLearning is high on our list.  And, beyond campaign/marketing apps, we see the platform serving as a complementary story-platform for motion pictures and television — widgetized TV is a space that is fascinating to consider.

Stay tuned.

AdTech 2011…New Products … Uniquely Mobile Experiences

AdTech 2011 in San Francisco last week offered up a lot to consider with regard to both mobile publishing (our mLearning B2C initiatives) as well as a mobile technology and service provider for marketing, advertising and entertainment applications.

One big take-away was that a number of established, online advertising platforms are only beginning to wrap their heads around mobile – all too frequently, they are not grasping the unique User Experience that mobile requires, as they rush to port old static web solutions to mobile.

That said, there were a few gems in the mix as well as a number of prospective relationships where the contentAI platform is complementary and delivers a uniquely mobile User Experience, adding value to both the Brand and User.

One significant result that emerged from assessing the market during AdTech was the need to scale an economical product specific to delivery of FAQ” pages on mobile sites and apps.  Please see more on this offering HERE. While we will offer this direct to clients, it is also an offering designed for mobile web and mobile app developers to plug-in to their tool kit.  FAQ pages are a part of our web life; but, on mobile, they are nearly impossible to read and navigate.  While these are not “storied” experiences, the contentAI platform is ideally suited to provide a cost effective solution for mobile sites and apps that need to present FAQ data in an easy to use interface.

Conversational Mobile Engagement — Think Big. Think Fresh.

We attended the MobilePortland gathering last night that addressed Mobile as a Platform for Change.

It was an unusual tech event for Portland, in our opinion, because it (a) thought bigger, (b) inspired outside of the box thought, and (c) was global in scope — local events don’t always hit those points.

But, it was also sobering.

For all of the potential of mobile, it also reinforced the notion that most people involved in mobile campaigns or initiatives are sadly lacking imagination.  The “shrink the internet” work that permeates this space was highlighted as delivering consistent failures.  The utopian advertising ideals of entirely rethinking how ad-dollars can truly add value to a brand and the human condition was refreshing…though I suspect it’s a tough road to travel.

There are signs of hope eeking through.  The effort for mobile English learning in Bangladesh that was highlighted by National Geographic here: that converges a television show with mobile learning (“transmedia” anyone?) is a terrific read.  For contentAI studios, this article and the efforts in Bangladesh represent the original impetus for creating the platform — Extending television properties to interactive mobile engagement, based on the most intuitive form of mobile interaction:  short, conversational text messages.

Additionally, it ties in with he application of our  platform for mobile English language learning at:


  • 5 Billion Mobile Devices in the World
  • 1 Billion People engaged in some for of ESL learning
  • Advertising dollars shifting to Mobile which could add real value to people’s lives and support the Brand

How to tie this all together?

These are great ingredients, now it’s time to figure out the recipe.




Mobile Web First, But Apps as Backup – Single Build Practice

We are proponents of pushing mobile web builds and delivery.  Most content and user experiences don’t require Apps — the bells and whistles they offer are often hollow.  Plus, mobile web is increasingly capable of delivering those same bells and whistles, ideally, used well.

That said, a whole lot of people Search for Apps and with the emerging tools and platforms that can wrap a well constructed mobile web site in an App-Shell, there is no reason not to offer the single-build content through App stores as well, in native formats.

We undertook the first “wrapping” of our conversational apps and porting to Android by using the platform.  It was a breeze. It’s a push button operation and a download (plus distribution through their App Store); this allowed adding the Apps to the Android Store as well as GetJar; where they get secondary pick-up through their affiliates.  Yes, we’ll do an iOS version too; but, we really like Android here, so it was first on the list.

Here’s where you can pick up the Android version of the two ESL conversational simulations (plus, it’s still on mobile web, where any WAP or HTML browser can access them):



APPSGEYSER MARKET (with QR Code for Download):



Conversational mLearning Coupled with Traditional Learning

Because Kenneth Beare describes this better than we do, his recent post at

Is a great introduction to our subsidiary platform and how it can be coupled with a Lesson Plan.  The use of a QR code is intended to add to the fun/mystery/intrigue of bridging from paper to mobile (but, Users can access the mobile web conversational simulations via typing in the URL or SMS as well).

The lesson demo can be downloaded from the EnglishFeed site and post.

As we see increased traffic on our ESLai site and the mobile web apps coming from school ISP’s, we’re excited to consider that the next step will be deeper integration with curriculum and existing learning tools, where the conversational simulations offer a unique space for User’s to practice their skills.

Oh, will QR Codes in the classroom and with kids work?  Here’s how it’s working already: