musings on learning, technologies for learning, and life

Educational Innovations and Mobile

Mobile and Educational Innovation

A teaching and learning strategy that leverages students’ own existing devices and practices would cost the university less in terms of providing equipment (they already have it) and training (they already know how to use it). Students currently effectively need a desktop — and increasingly a laptop — computer to “do college” because there is little support for learning on their less-expensive mobile devices. If students had, for example, lower cost, lightweight, tablet computers that had a long enough battery life to not require outlets in classrooms, it could change the format of classroom learning as well as realize significant savings in infrastructure costs. The form factor of tablets encourages easier side-by-side sharing and sharing with the entire class. The multi-touch screen allows peer collaboration or competition in learning activities.

Because mobile devices are ultra portable, with long-battery life, and often 3G connectivity and location-sensing capabilities, they would be fabulous tools for innovative approaches to hybrid and online courses. Courses could meet online in distributed environments at a distance, and also be more fully connected in potentially distracting field locations. For example, a class trip to the Arboretum could work both independently or in groups to collect photographs and sightings of species, while being given increasingly difficult quests by the instructor, and called back to meet as a face-to-face group through the mobile devices. In a Distance Education scenario, the same activities could be assigned and carried out at local parks across the country, with live reporting and sharing of results and immediate peer- and instructor- feedback.

As eTexts based on the ePub format and authoring tools such as Apple’s iBooks proliferate, they could further decrease the cost of textbooks by lowering the barriers to creating and distributing class-specific readers. Instructors could incorporate student demonstration of course content through authentic learning projects such as student-created (and peer and instructor-reviewed) eTexts.

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