Mobile app design / 3 min read

Driven to learn

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By Marion / March 24, 2021

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Use the tools and tactics of the distraction industry to turbo-charge your learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) - and use the design app process to get it right.

Can you remember the last time you spent eight uninterrupted hours completing the tasks you had on your list?

What causes distraction?

All human behavior is steered by either external or internal triggers. External triggers are 'signals' from our immediate environment - these can be visual or vocal. A text message sound or a coworker asking a question. Internal triggers are 'negative' feelings (being thirsty, getting cold or the desire to talk to someone as we're lonely). 

Since all behavior is prompted by either external or internal triggers, then both, the actions we intend to do (traction) as well as those that veer us off course (distraction), originate from the same source.

Distractions are a common problem and our pesky digital devices are the biggest culprits. Google reckons that we spend 4.4 hour of our daily leisure time in front of screens not for work. According to a new study by market-research group Nielsen (2020 Nielsen Total Audience Report) American adults spend more than 11 hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media. That’s up from nine hours, 32 minutes just four years ago.

The attention economy has created a modern addiction to our digital devices. Millions are turning to self-help and ‘detox retreats’ just to cope. Digital habits are not easily removed because you carry the devices with you.

But we can use the proven tactics of the distraction industry to make learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) more fun and rewarding:

1. Voice is the future - you can speak at least twice as fast as you type

An increasing number of the 1.5 billion users per month are using WhatsApp message box (, January 2019), speak into their phone, and send it off as a small audio file to the recipient.

Voice over written content

Articles to be learned can be voice recorded so that you can listen to it while driving (nurses, social workers, surveyors) or when having extended breaks (teachers) or simply commuting.

We can also add voice notes to apps so the user can dictate their thoughts to be picked up later for editing. Those points need to be considered in the process when designing an app.

2. Introduce rewards - provide feedback in the form of compliments, approval, encouragement

The American Psychologist B. F. Skinner called it: Operant conditioning – Behaviorism. Behavior which is reinforced tends to be repeated (i.e. strengthened); behavior which is not reinforced tends to die out (i.e. weakened).

Positive reinforcement strengthens a behavior by providing a consequence an individual finds rewarding.

Rewards are expected?

A simple way to shape behavior is to provide positive feedback in the form of compliments and affirmation. This can be achieved programmatically in an app by setting milestones and encouraging users along the way.

As well as motivation this is useful for reassuring users they are on track with their CPD work to hit their timelines and goals.

Motivation can also be achieved by creating peer-to-peer comparisons. "Congratulations, you are in the top ten percent for achieving this task…

3. Focus on mobile - mobile devices have been winning the war of attention

Rather than fight the tide, use it to your advantage. Position yourself alongside them and mimic as many of the habits they engender which are consistent with your professional goals.

Users are switching from browsers to apps because an app focuses the attention on a simple task. Watch the average phone user. They complete simple short activities – send a message, check a feed, update a post –  repeat cycle.

Your CPD needs to be as easy to find and convenient to use, anytime, anywhere. And this can only be achieved with an app. And all those steps need to be considered in the process when designing an app.

Luckily, your phone comes equipped with an impressive toolkit of functions – camera, voice recording, messaging – that we can hook into. It is an amazing platform to build onto.


Use the tools and tactics of the distraction industry to turbo-charge your learning and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) - and use the design app process to get it right.

Creating a professional CPD app adjusted to the specific needs of your company is something we can help you with. 

With 15 years of providing content technology solutions we offer sound strategic advice and proven success.

Call us on 0207 183 3690 or email us 


Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

Photo by Soundtrap on Unsplash

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