May 13, 2011
Nowadays, just about every student has a smartphone. Mashable reported that, according to Blackboard and Project Tomorrow, 98 percent of U.S. high school students have access to some kind of smartphone. Many colleges and universities have been exploring ways to incorporate technology into the classroom; one obvious example is the iPad. But tablet computers are not the only device changing the college experience. According to USA Today, colleges are also using mobile apps to allow students to pursue their education anytime and anywhere.
At Western Governors University, a non-profit online university, for example students can use apps to access course content. Students at Walters State Community College in Morristown, TN may soon be able to dissect a frog for science classes without ever having to actually touch one, thanks to a frog-dissection app that the school is testing. And the University of Phoenix, a for-profit college that offers flexible class schedules to busy adults, recently launched an app that allows students to access online discussions, threads, assignments and receive alerts when grades are posted, all from their smartphones.
"If this is the generation of the future, and they're... using these kinds of information-rich devices, we have to be able to migrate the classroom and educational experience more and more to that world," said Rob Wrubel, executive vice president of University of Phoenix's parent company Apollo group.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, mobile apps can do more than just keep students connected--they are also cost efficient ways to help aid students' studies. Once upon a time, students used 3 by 5 index cards to memorize important facts. Today's smartphone apps take flashcards to another level by providing video clips, audio and interactive features.
Faculty at Abilene Christian University began using iPods and iPhones in 2008 to enhance the classroom experience. The theater department put on an interactive production of Othello and teachers can use the device to facilitate discussions on controversial topics, reported Mashable.
Though mobile apps and other technologies can be found more and more in the classroom, students and educators agree that they are not replacing any particular teaching method.
"It's a supplement... a very helpful tool on the go," said Tracy Lawson, a senior in Portland, OR who works full-time and is pursuing a bachelor's degree in health care administration, to USA Today.
Mark Phillips, associate professor of management sciences at Abilene Christian, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that even if smartphones do not revolutionize education, at least they are encouraging educators to rethink the classroom experience and come up with new and creative teaching ideas or activities.
Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin
"4 Ways Mobile Tech Is Improving Education," mashable.com, May 4, 2011, Sarah Kessler
"Apps make college easier to access," USAToday.com, May 12, 2011, Mary Beth Marklein
"Smartphones on Campus: the Search for 'Killer' Apps," chronicle.com, May 8, 2011, Jeffrey R. Young