Take advantage of your students’ smartphones
Author: Machiavelli W.Chao, Lecturer Continuing at The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine
When I was a student at the University of Texas, I remember my undergraduate experience. The drill was fairly standard. I sat in a classroom to listen to lectures, did my homework, and then physically handed it off to a TA. If I had any questions, I would wait in front of my professor’s desk and hope he could see me. Oh, how times have changed.
Enter Mobile Technology
Students are now eager to enroll in online and hybrid courses, thanks to the rapid rise of mobile technology. They use their tablets for online homework completion and submission. They also use their tablets to post questions to online discussion boards, rather than physically appearing at the office.
Nearly all my students use mobile devices for communication. The challenge for me as an instructor is to reach this generation who aren’t tied to their laptops or desktop computers. My students prefer this dominant delivery method, so all my course materials and engagement activities have to be tailored.
Turning Mobile Devices into Mobile Learning Tools
Canvas is our online course management system at The Paul Merage Business School at the University of California Irvine. Canvas allows me to customize my course website with lecture videos and integrated publisher tools. Canvas also supports responsive design so all my course materials can be viewed on smartphones or tablets. My students can now view my lecture videos, do their homework online, and post to discussion forums from anywhere with a WiFi connection.
The prevalence of mobile devices in my classroom is another reason. (Try finding a student who isn’t connected to their smartphone these days! I have been able to use online tools and apps to increase my teaching window and to access my students.
In my undergraduate tax course, for example, I used Twitter to send out rhyming Tweets at all hours of the day to my students. They can respond quickly to these tweets to earn bonus points. Another example is Kahoot! I use PollEverywhere and Kahoot in all my classes. This allows me to ask content-related queries about the lecture material immediately before, and then receive instant feedback so that I can determine if my students have fully grasped the concept that I was teaching. Without mobile technology, none of these things would be possible.
Continued mobile education
In the last 20 years of teaching, I have seen technology improve at such a rapid rate that many of the things I used a few decades ago are no longer relevant.
Many instructors fear that it will prove difficult to invent and learn new technologies from mobile devices, given the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets by students. For me, however, this is an opportunity to learn new ways to teach my students.
The Cengage mobile app makes class more accessible on the go. Cengage eTextbooks can be listened to online and offline. Students can highlight and take notes, and even listen to them. It’s also free to download.