In high school and college classrooms across the nation, teachers and students are putting mobile learning devices to use in the educational process.
Multiple colleges and universities, including ACU, Seton Hill University and Long Island University, and have issued some form of mobile learning device to students.
The trend is even catching on overseas, where Japan’s Aoyama Gakuin University is providing an iPhone to all staff members and students.
Dr. Bill Rankin, ACU director of education innovation and associate professor of English, said ACU’s decision to issue iPhones or iPod touches to its students in the fall of 2008 paved the way for a new type of education.
“I would certainly call it groundbreaking; until our announcement, most people thought of ‘mobile learning” as a laptop-based educational strategy,’ Rankin said. “We wanted to see much more than just what would happen if people could be connected from time to time as they carried laptops around. We wanted to see what was possible if people were always connected with a new generation of always-on, media-centric, truly web-enabled smart devices.”
Every full-time undergraduate student on ACU’s campus was issued one of the devices, last fall. Rankin said ACU’s full immersion in mobile learning allows the university to discover new innovations.
“Because of our now full deployment to undergraduates and faculty, ACU is discovering things that cannot be discovered elsewhere. Many people look to us as thought-leaders, and a lot of companies are coming to us to test out mobile solutions that they will then roll out more broadly in the market,” Rankin said. “ACU is playing a central role in taking mobile education to the next level.”
At Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa., all incoming, full-time students are issued iPads and MacBook Pro laptops. Melissa Alsing, director of information systems, DBA, said the mobile initiative at SHU has been quickly integrated into the classroom.
“We were pleasantly surprised with the adoption of the iPad into the classroom,” Alsing said. “At first, we thought it might turn into a nice perk for students, but it’s gotten where we had to implement other programs for support because it was so successful.”
The university transfers ownership of the iPad to the students after two semesters and gives the students ownership of the laptop after four semesters. Alsing said the iPad has helped not only in the classroom at SHU, but it has also become a way of life.
“It has become a part of the culture,” Alsing said. “You’d be hard-pressed to walk down a hallway and see someone without an iPad.”
The iPad also is starting to make its way into K-12 classrooms. ACU is working in conjunction with Abilene Christian Schools and Dallas Christian School on programs designed to use the iPad as a tool for teachers.
Steve Bivins, vice president of DCS, said his school is excited about the prospect of equipping teachers with the mobile device and eventually having students use the device in class.
“Initially, we have to have the teachers grasp the iPad technology,” Bivins said. “The students already know how to use them, so we have to play a little catch up. In the fall of 2011, we are going to give grades 9-12 students an iPad, and we’re going to have it as a part of everyday life.”
Bivins said the iPad is going to change the face of education at K-12 schools across the nation, giving teachers more flexibility.
“Its a tangible piece that’s changing the structure of the classroom and the way we teach,” Bivins said. “It’s a way to get kids more interested.”