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10 Colleges Most Creatively Using Mobile Technology

by Staff Writers

Seeing as how mobile devices and related technologies have completely overtaken a good chunk of society already, naturally the education sector has followed suit. Oddly enough, though, smartphones, social media, tablet computers, and other hallmarks of the mobile technology revolution still have yet to fully creep onto campus, with many schools somewhat puzzled over exactly what to do with the exciting new toys the kids are into these days. Others, however, saw innovation as opportunity, and went about drawing up innovative strategies for letting these digital developments enhance lessons, streamline college life, open up new possibilities, or some combination thereof. Get inspired by some of the seriously cool, creative ways the following schools have harnessed mobile media for current and future students.

  1. Abilene Christian University:


     
    This tech-savvy Texas school hosts numerous open houses, conferences, and other events centered around incorporating iPads, iPod Touches, laptops, and other portable computing devices into classroom settings. Apple even rewarded Abilene Christian University with its Distinguished Program moniker for its efforts in leading the education sector’s general movement towards digital integration. In the 2010-11 Mobile Learning Report, it highlights innovative breakthroughs such as the Optimist’s status as the first college newspaper with its very own iPad app and the efforts of chemistry professors Dr. Cynthia Powell and Dr. Autumn Sutherlin to podcast and comprehensively research student engagement with technology. Powell is also the founder of Mobile Enhanced Inquiry-Based Learning, a “blended learning strategy” focusing on mobile usage in the STEM fields.

  2. Stanford University:


     
    Stanford University’s partnership with Bling made it easier for Palo Alto, Calif., residents and students alike to pay at local vendors, helping reduce their risk of identity theft. Through the use of an application and tiny tag, users purchase items via PayPal accounts as opposed to the traditional credit and debit cards, and the alliance draws praise from both Cardinals and the businesses they patronize for its ease. Along with this creative little time-saving measure, the school also hosted Mobile Persuasion in 2009. The Nokia-sponsored event, organized by Stanford’s Persuasive Tech Lab, to converse about all the ins and outs of mobile learning and draw up some strategies to explore — extending the department’s own overarching goals.

  3. University of Ottawa:


     
    Via uoMobile, University of Ottawa’s bilingual mobile app, students enjoy comprehensive access to the most popular sections of the main website. Services also include quick access to their personal schedules, grades, emergency information, and more, making it one of the more jam-packed college mobile applications out there. Plenty of colleges and universities have started drifting toward taking advantage of tablet computers and smartphones to make things even more convenient for anyone wanting to learn more, though uoMobile stands as one of the most notable for the number of options and accessibility.

  4. Bangladesh Open University:


     
    Seeing as how Bangladesh Open University’s entire modus operandi revolves around distance learning, it makes perfect sense that it would embrace what mobile technology has to offer higher education. One method utilized in its classrooms blends SMS with TV and/or radio for a multimedia experience encouraging digital discussion while soaking up recorded lessons. BOU hopes their developments taking advantage of the country’s fondness for wireless will nurture education in more remote areas where resources remain difficult to acquire.

  5. Northeast Community College:


     
    Journalism students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb., received a thorough glimpse into the intimate inner workings of television studio KTIV — in Sioux City, Iowa. Webcameras allowed the two buildings to connect with one another, giving learners a tour of the facilities and putting them face-to-face with professionals eager to answer their questions. Most of the discussion revolved around KTIV’s transition from analog to digital media and succeeding in an Internet-driven market.

  6. Purdue University:


     
    Developers at Purdue University created Hotseat so tech-loving teachers could encourage running commentary during lectures. Students connect via Facebook, Twitter, or SMS to discuss the lectures and presentations at hand, with their messages relayed on a screen in real time. Professors use this for a few different reasons, including more richly detailed class talks with fewer interruptions and garnering immediate feedback. The application is available on web-based browsers and mobile devices and its “backchannel” structure has earned it a plethora of praise.

  7. Griffith University:


     
    Because Twitter manages to influence everything from the latest musical trends to serious social upheaval (as was the case in Egypt and Libya), journalism majors at this Australian college are now required to take a course in the ubiquitous social media outlet. Reactions to this new devotion to mobile technology have proven mixed, and course content blends both history and practicums in how to go about navigating the 140-character limit. Griffith University educators think thoroughly comprehending all the ins and outs of emerging technologies such as Twitter is an absolutely essential skill in the news outlets of the future.

  8. Emerson College:


     
    Learning Twitter is also mandatory in David Gerzof’s Emerson College classroom, where students partner up with real companies and design online marketing campaigns around them. Which, of course, includes incorporating common and not-so-common social media strategies. He arranged sponsorship with Sprint Nextel, who donated 10 EVO phones for student use, which included digital video and blogging in addition to the expected Facebooking and tweeting. Another creative project involved a social media scavenger hunt around Boston and utilizing it as a way to promote the cellular provider’s services.

  9. University of Michigan:


     
    As with even some of the most humbly connected institutes of higher learning, University of Michigan does boast its very own personal mobile app used by students, faculty, and staff. But it also plays host to the Mobile Apps Center, a department entirely devoted to developing these handy little bits and bytes. It hosts an annual Hackathon challenging students to spend 48 hours drawing up their own apps for use on and off campus, as well as contests and conferences challenging young and old thinkers alike to test the limits of where the technology can go.

  10. Seton Hall University:


     
    Seton Hall University marked a significant turning point in mobile integration when it became the very first institute of higher learning to assign every full-time student and faculty member an iPad back in 2010. Also an Apple Distinguished Program, its Griffin Technology Advantage homepage features an impressive archive of news stories regarding professors, staff members, and their creative approaches to the available devices. Reeves Library, for example, integrated holdings with iPads via the Polaris app. And chemistry professor Dr. Demetra Czegan loves how the devices allow her students to go paperless, downloading lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations and lightening their loads.