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When CNN introduced its site on the “world wide web” in 1995, I was president of a company producing and distributing educational curricula and software into millions of nationwide classrooms. It was after I accessed the rapidly increasing number of new websites that I decided to pursue doctoral research to learn as much as I could about how humans will seek, select, and share newer forms of digital content in the future.


In 2005, I completed a dissertation. that combined journalism, communication, and cognitive psychology to show how traditional news stories can be formatted to significantly increase interest in – and comprehension of – news by readers with little prior interest or knowledge in science and technology.

But when the first iPhone was introduced in 2007, no one could predict how powerful mobile technology would change every moment of our subsequent days. The continuous stream of information available anywhere a cell phone signal was detected meant we could and would consume content any time we wanted and for as long as we wanted to. 


Many first-time phone users assumed they were still in control of time on their new device.  It was still early to know just how powerful the device would become to dictate the time many users now devote – knowingly or unknowingly - to continuous content on apps, texts, and social media and the continuous temptations to consult the device at every idle or even inappropriate moment.


Since 2008, my research, teaching, and experimentation related to teaching and learning focused exclusively on when and how digital users utilize mobile technology. Although the over-used and rarely defined term of “engagement” is used with several strategies for content such as clickbait, personalization, minimal text, and short videos, there is yet to be the introduction of a revolutionary new model that changes the way content is presented so that It addresses the cognitive and behavioral needs of diverse mobile audiences. We now witness how brevity in text, with or without scannable features, a large photo, and video often found in pages of cluttered content demonstrates so-called “brain-friendly” content, but there has yet to be a comprehensive top-down model for multimedia content that addresses the complex chronological and behavior aspects of how diverse audiences of users seek, select, and share digital content. The years of research to produce the digital engagement model presented here address that challenge.

Dr. Ronald Yaros

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