Throughout the past decade, there has been a real shift from the use of desktop computers to embracing approaches such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and the integration of mobile apps into learning deliverance. However, at Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning Conference in May this year, we saw that just having access to mobile technology does not solely make it successful. Institutions still face the challenge of how to effectively use mobile to maximise student success and outcomes, and should carefully consider their goals when mapping out mobile strategies.
Many academics question the validity of using mobile, and what it can do for them and their students. What kind of return on investment they can expect from such technology? The possibilities of using mobile technology are limitless, but the benefits of doing so can be split into two distinct categories: recruitment and student engagement.
Recruitment is a critical aspect for universities; the goal for colleges is to showcase the differentiation and value that they offer. If they create a personalised mobile app, prospective students will be able to see that the university offers them easy access to class schedules, news, grades, library resources, sports information and more. It will make the experience of choosing that particular university transparent, involving and enjoyable. Taking the use of personalised mobile technology even further, students can buy books via their smartphones or tablet app, and prospects can even apply to attend the university this way.
As a university delves deeper into the many ways of improving student engagement, there are a myriad of possibilities. Take online discussion boards for example. They can be accessed via mobile, keep students connected with peers and instructors, and send out notifications of grades and announcements – and save valuable student time. Another benefit is the “easy access” factor; many universities are integrating tests into their mobile systems, meaning that students can complete them in quick and digestible ways whilst on the move.
Ultimately, student mobility takes interactive teaching and learning to a new level. Over the next year, we will start to see education content created specifically for use on mobile, and this will provide real-time aid in the classroom. And as more schools start to adopt mobile technology into their curriculum, we will start to see allowances change about what is and is not acceptable for classroom use.
Like all progress, the risks taken need to be weighed against the returns offered for students, faculty and administration. But the lessons learned are being shared and the use of mobile in education is no longer a novelty but now a necessity.