Technology in the Higher Education Classroom - Module Two
(Walden University course work by Jimmy Dick)
The classroom of the future will be a place I hope to teach in. I look back to the college classrooms of the 1980s and cutting edge there was a microphone and overhead projector. Today cutting edge is a 3-D equipped classroom. I would love to have one of those to use in teaching history. I mentioned this to my students today and they loved the idea of it. Imagine having 3-D maps, images, and people for students to observe and even interact with. The possibilities are applicable in multiple fields of study too. The other areas I have interest in are mobile learning technology or m-learning. This pulls in two other tech segments such as e-textbooks and mobile applications for cross platform devices. Two additional tech areas I like are computers in the classroom and of course access to the Internet.
At this point having a computer in the classroom is practically a necessity due to the usefulness of the device in playing audio/visual elements as well as the ability to access the Internet for various reasons. I think that is pretty self-explanatory, but when I look back to the 80s I remember not having them and my professors using slides and overhead projectors. Sometimes I miss not having a chalkboard in my classes because I saw more teaching via chalk than I ever did with a white board or for that matter a smart board. In fact, I have never had a class with a smart board or even used one. I don’t even think of them as a result.
What I do consider important is m-learning and how I think that is going to revolutionize education. The ability to condense textbooks and learning materials of multiple media types and place them all within a transportable device or application via the device is phenomenal. Personally, I need to learn more about this technology in order to fully implement it in the classroom. I already work with e-textbooks and have no issues with them. In fact, I am going to incorporate them and their capabilities in accessing course materials in a much greater capacity in the second half of my American History to 1865 course this semester.
My community college does a good job of supporting technology use via professional development programs. They have a $250 stipend available for every 15 credit hours completed which is a nice incentive. The courses are also online or in seat which also allows instructors to see online class presentations in action. We are lacking in m-learning training though and that is something that really needs some attention. I am pushing for training in using Apple’s iTunes U materials. I have discovered materials that will help me learn how to use the iTunes U and develop courses within it. That is going to be a major project of mine and I am really debating about possibly making that the focus of a doctoral study.
M-learning applications exist abundantly. Over one trillion dollars’ worth of apps were sold in four of the biggest public app stores in 2013, Google Play, iTunes, Blackberry, and one other (Statistic Brain, 2014). This does not count private companies selling apps through their own storefronts or in programs via distribution. An example of this would be contracts with institutions through Pearson Education. This dollar figure takes on bigger meaning when you realize that over 65 billion apps were downloaded from those four stores and most of them were free apps. There are multiple applications with iTunes U for course development planning which I am just beginning to explore.
One of my goals over the next eight weeks is to explore the construction of an app for my students to use which will help them utilize the learning-centered environment I strive to create in my classes. I am writing this while administering a mid-term, one of two mid-terms and a module exam I am giving today (Spring Break starts Friday). Several students commented about how the class, the materials, and the assignments came together in the mid-term. That was not by accident. It was by design. The technology I use in the classroom was in use during the mid-terms, but I want to take this a step further in the assessment process. That will be part of the final exam for certain as I learn more about using that iPad in the class.
The major recommendation I have for my school is to develop a school wide training program for m-learning. We do not have anything and it is showing. Each campus has an iPad cart and I am one of two instructors who uses it in their classes. Studies have shown that institutions which do not have a cohesive m-learning development program for their instructors have a really poor m-learning integration problem (Hawkes & Hategekimana, 2010). Granted that the use of the e-Textbook here is still in its first year and limited to a few courses, but the training was limited to website use of the e-Textbook. Hardly any attention was giving to its use via mobile technology and none at all in conjunction with applications. Furthermore, the company that supplied the e-Textbooks has some really clunky applications for its m-learning platform. In fact, it looks like they just tried to port the website materials straight over to the m-learning platform and did next to nothing to create a self-sufficient m-learning portal.
In conclusion, I think m-learning in the wave of the educational future. With the current assault on education funding by politicians who prefer ignorant Americans falling behind in the global learning world it is imperative that we use the shrinking funds wisely and invest the money in the technology that will expand the learning capabilities of our students. This is going to require institutions working together to develop training programs and resource utilization so that dollars are not duplicating previous efforts. It is also going to require staying up with the desires of our students and that is increasingly being tied to technology usage in schools. The bottom line is those who are proactive in this brave new world of technology are retaining and graduating students at a higher rate than those schools who are not. Some of those schools are closing their doors. What will be the fate of your institution?
Hawkes, M., and C. Hategekimana. (2010). Impacts of mobile computing on student learning in the university: A comparison of course assessment data. J. Educational Technology Systems, 38(1), 63-74.
Statistic Brain. (2015). Mobile Phone App Store Statistics. (Website). Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/mobile-phone-app-store-statistics/