Ten years ago, it was not uncommon for a classroom to have only a single computer, usually reserved for administrative functions. Fast-forward to today and students from kindergarten to college are armed with laptops, tablets, phones, and other internet-connected devices that facilitate learning in the 21st century.
These devices are fundamentally changing the way instructors, students, and the world looks at learning. Instead of being confined to a desk in a classroom and reading material from an out-dated textbook, students are now able to learn from literally anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, experts in the field can continually update curriculum as the topic changes, not bound by a publishing schedule.
The Connected Classroom
In the classroom, mobile technology has especially promising applications. A recent survey among Ball State University college students found that 89% of students had a smartphone, up nearly 51% since 2009.
This offers a rich opportunity to serve educational content and tools to the student on a device that they already have. In fact, that same study found that more than half of students already using their device during class for non-learning purposes like texting or social media.
Instead of asking how can we prevent students from using these devices during class, it should shift to how we can engage them there.
Student Response Systems
There’s no better way to gauge comprehension of material than by asking students in real-time. But, in a lecture hall of 250 students that is simply not an option. Even in smaller classroom settings students may not feel comfortable to share their response in front of the larger group.
Unless the subject is classical Latin, odds are that the subject is continually changing. Paper textbooks simply cannot keep up with the amount of information available in a connected world. eBooks have begun to take root, allowing students to take materials with them on their phone or tablet. But, these are often just digital versions of paper textbooks and are still victim to the dreaded publishing cycle.
Instead, instructors can take control of the eBook publishing process. Content can be tailored to their course using tools like iBooks Author and delivered directly to the student’s mobile phone or tablet.
Not only does this keep content relevant, it reduces the cost of attendance for students through bypassing traditional textbooks. Many apps and platforms exist that turn the student’s phone or tablet into a personal response system. Instructors can ask a question and immediately gain responses from all students, offering a brand new way to grade on participation.
If students are texting during class, it means they probably don’t feel engaged in the discussion.
A chat app like GroupMe can quickly turn a lecture into a group discussion without turning the classroom into a shouting match. It also provides shy students an opportunity to have their voice heard (anonymously).
Working in Real Life
Staying on top of emerging technology for institutions of higher education can be a daunting task. With digital natives as their primary audience, the pressure is even greater to create not only an experience that will get past the budget committee, but really make an impact on student life. Couple both of those feats with creating design that students will not only find appealing, but useful, and you have a lot of work. Myriad helped Minnesota State University Moorhead navigate this through employment of the Myriad Platform.
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Learning goes beyond the classroom. However, the downfall with many online learning systems today is that they aren’t where the students are. Instead, why not create an app that allows for notifications of class cancellation, project assignments, upcoming tests, and more to be sent directly to the student’s smartphone?
Another opportunity is the rich delivery of lectures. Instructors can offer live streams of their lectures for distance-learning students. Not only does this bring the classroom experience to those not in the classroom, it expands the geographic reach of the instructor to anybody with an internet connection.
The Connected Campus
Students’ penchant for mobile technology use has the potential to and already is changing the way they interact with institutions.
Today’s students don’t necessarily operate on the same fixed schedule. While a full-time student is able to make it to administration to register for classes or pay fees during the day, a single-parent taking night classes once a week probably can’t. Thus, it becomes imperative to offer access to core services regardless of the time of day or location.
This could be accomplished, of course, by staffing a location 24/7, but that is more than likely cost prohibitive. An online portal could be offered, but those solutions often require access to a full computer and isn’t convenient for students on-the-go. Instead, we have to look to where the students already are for potential solutions.
Registration is often one of the most dreaded experiences for a student. Trying to navigate seemingly endless course catalogs with vague descriptions, while verifying that the course meets graduation requirements can be daunting. Then, the student has to find time to meet with an on-campus advisor to confirm class selections only to find out that a required class is no longer offered or is above capacity.
Instead of a once yearly published PDF course catalog, the institution could very easily publish an always up-to-date interactive catalog that guides the student through class selections.
Courses relevant to the student’s interest, major, or area of study could be prominently featured with information regarding availability updated in real-time. Not only that, but the student would suddenly have more than just a static description of the course. Institutions could also provide video of the course and sample course materials, giving prospective students a true look.
Once a student decides on a course, it could be added to their schedule with the app taking care of any conflicts, prerequisite requirements, or paperwork needed for enrollment. It allows the student to focus on being a student and not have to worry about the behind-the-scenes paperwork.
Mobile commerce is expected to reach $50 billion this year, accounting for nearly 25% of all ecommerce traffic. Consumers (students included) are more comfortable than ever with completing financial transactions on their mobile device.
A potential use case would allow the student to determine total costs, obtain financial aid, and make payments towards tuition entirely within their mobile app. This removes the need to have a student service location constantly staffed, resulting in operations cost savings.
While some may raise questions regarding security, mobile devices (especially iOS) are often considered more secure than their desktop counterparts because of the core architecture. Additionally, security will continue to improve as new technologies such as Apple Pay become predominant in the marketplace.
The Connected Alumnus
Students are the most visible billboard for colleges and universities. They wear apparel, proudly shout that they were an “Insert Mascot Name Here”, and directly demonstrate the quality of education they received.
Too often this alumni network is relied upon only for fundraising, which while important, isn’t the only thing it can be used for.
Just as current customers are the easiest to market to, previous students can be the easiest to recruit for future courses. While the alum may not be visiting the institution website on a regular basis, being able to keep in contact through an always-present app keeps the line of communication open.
The benefit to the alum is that they’ll be first to know about courses, events, or training that may be of interest.
Where to start
Myriad Mobile powers The Myriad Platform for Education as the foundation of a holistic, future-proof mobile roadmap for your institution.
The Myriad Platform is a launch pad to create internal facing apps and mobile solutions that empower your organization.
The Platform helps speed up time-to-market in releasing new mobile initiatives. The Myriad Platform also enables organizations to create a competitive advantage by partnering internal IT staff with our experts in design, strategy, architecture, and development. Ultimately, our goal is to empower your team with mobile.