Before the iPhone, students were often reprimanded for using cell phones during class. Now, professors require students to use iPhone applications designed specifically for the course.
Jessica Nguyen, research officer and adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology, is doing just that as she pilots the new application, Statistics, in her Elementary Statistics class.
Dr. Scott Perkins, professor of psychology and coordinator of Mobile Learning Research, said he and other members of the Mobile Learning Executive Team have been collaborating with GetYaLearnOn, the company that developed the application, since ACU’s Connected conference last spring.
ACU is the only school piloting the program, and Nguyen’s statistics class is the only class on campus using the application.
The application is used as a supplement to the textbook, Nguyen said. Within the application, she said, there are a number of lessons, a glossary and calculating tools. There is also a study tool that provides flash cards and vocabulary. Nguyen said she has received positive feedback about the program from her students.
“I think they voiced to me that they are more apt to do the reading, because it is with them in places they can’t lug a textbook around,” Nguyen said. “It’s much more conducive to a sort of anywhere-learning approach.”
Because it is still in the pilot stage, students were not required to pay a fee for the application. Without the application, students would have been required to purchase another textbook for the course. Eventually, Nguyen said, she expects they will have to pay a fee, but she said she anticipates the cost of the application being much less than the cost of a textbook.
Students who did not have an iPhone or an iPod Touch already were able to check one out for the semester from Mobile Learning.
Kara Dubose, senior public relations major from Fort Worth, fell into that category. She said the application has been great for reviewing definitions, quick references and catching up when she misses a class. She said she prefers the application to carrying around another textbook.
This is Nguyen’s first year teaching the course, but she said she thinks the application has been a huge help.
“I think it is a really good way to bring sort of a boring topic that people dread taking into a more user-friendly and, ‘Hey, this actually applies to my life,’ learning environment,” she said.
The future of the application is yet to be set in stone, Perkins said. Both he and Nguyen said the application definitely will be used in the spring for the same class, but they were unsure when the application would be available for purchase by the public.
As far as the future of mobile learning, Perkins said he thinks the future is in applications – like this one – that will engage students more fully in learning and extend learning outside the classroom.
“What I suspect will happen in the future is that we are going to see more and more discipline or class-specific applications that are used,” Perkins said.