shared by Phyllis C. Self
Special Guest: John O’Keefe
Director of Academic Technologies and Network Services
John O’Keefe is the director of academic technology and network services at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. O’Keefe also serves as an adjunct member of the English department co-teaching film courses and co-chairs a committee to establish a Film and Media Studies Program. In addition to film, his interests include network infrastructure technologies, teaching and learning initiatives, open-source development, Moodle, identity management, Shibboleth, SAN/storage technology, server/application virtualization, and disaster recovery. He is actively involved in EDUCAUSE and the Net@EDU initiative and is also a member of CLAC, the Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges, and NITLE, the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education.
To Register http://net.educause.edu/live0918
Mobile Computing Awareness Day
On Wednesday, September 16, 2009 the Mobile Computing Task Force At WIU held the first Mobile Computing Awareness Day program. As part of WIU’s Mobile Computing Taskforce, approximately 30 committee members are investigating and examining how mobile technological devices can aid learning opportunities and provide WIU Students with additional technology tools to explore and create meaningful learning experiences.
To view photos from Dr. Phyllis C. Self’s blog
submitted by Chad Dennis
From “Inside Higher Ed - author Steve Kolowich”
Last fall, Abilene Christian University gave out free iPhones or iPod Touches to its first-year undergraduates as part of an attempt by the Texas college to transform its campus into a 200-acre Petri dish for studying the intersection of mobile technology and higher education. Now, the reviews from the first year of the experiment are in — and they are glowing.
In the university’s 2008-2009 Mobile-Learning Report — a 24-page glossy prepared for the university’s board of trustees — Scott Perkins, a psychology professor and director of research for the mobile initiative, writes that “iPhones present a more attractive platform for learning” than current classroom tools, and “learning activities can be successfully transitioned to mobile-device platforms.” Furthermore, 89 percent of students and 87 percent of faculty polled called the program successful.
While the Web, wireless technology, and portable computers transformed the way students can access information, mobile devices can take those tools a step farther, said William Rankin, an associate professor of English and director of educational innovation at Abilene Christian. Rankin noted that he teaches a course about the range. “Where do I teach that class? In a classroom,” he says. “I always have to simulate things. Now I can go out into the field.” With mobile devices that are connected to the Web, he continued, students can leave the classroom without forfeiting their ability to take notes and photographs and look up information on the Web. And when he wants to make sure everyone is focusing, Rankin said, he can instruct students to pocket their handhelds — something that many professors wish they could do with laptops.
The Abilene Christian project has been viewed by some as a gimmick, similar to Duke University’s widely publicized 2004 decision to give each member of its incoming class an iPod — a program it quickly changed to encompass only certain students, then changed again to a partially subsidized purchase opportunity. Rankin said he does not think that Duke was misguided in its experiment, just a little disorganized. “Duke gave out the devices like they were sowing seeds in a field,” Rankin said, “saying, ‘Let’s see who does something with them.’ ”
Abilene Christian’s approach is more active: Give students the mobile devices, then have professors integrate the machines and their tools into the way courses are taught, and measure the changes.
Chemistry instructor Cynthia Powell, for example, created a special section of 25 iPhone users to whom she delivered laboratory preparation and safety lectures via podcast, rather than giving them in the classroom. Then she tracked the performance of that section relative to her 109 other students in the five categories she uses to determine grades. While the higher scores of the mobile group were not outside the substantial margin of error, Perkins said the mere fact that there was no decrease in score was evidence that such instruction “can transition to a mobile platform with no loss in student mastery of content.”
Powell’s experiment, however, demonstrates the current limitations of Abilene Christian’s mobile learning study. Because the experiment took place on such a small scale, the margins of error were sometimes as high as 13 points, making it impossible to render statistically significant findings. Part of the problem, Abilene officials pointed out, is that they’ve only been giving away free devices for a year; it’s hard for a professor-researcher to wrangle a decent sample size when only a quarter of students have the technology, and professors are reluctant to adapt their courses to a mobile platform when not all students are able to participate.
Although the university plans to saturate the 4,000-student campus with iPhones and iPod Touches by the fourth year of the study (giving them out to each incoming class), even then it will be difficult to extract good data, said Perkins, the lead researcher. “We could do this study for 10 years, and then maybe we could talk about statistical significance,” he said. “That’s just simply a function of the sample size.” In order to generate data that would comment widely on the uses and effectiveness of mobile technology on campuses, Perkins added, the study would have to partner with other institutions.
That is exactly what Abilene Christian is hoping will happen. Campus officials are hoping to leverage the publicity they have gotten as a result of the study to broaden the project beyond university’s own borders. “We’re looking for some standardization with the measures and sharing of results,” said Perkins, so the study might collect data “more widely and on a more robust scale than would be possible at any one school.”
In the meantime, the faculty “mobile learning fellows” are working with what they’ve got, and have kicked off a handful of new research projects — mostly geared toward applying mobile technology to the teaching of various disciplines — and seeing what happens. At this stage, Perkins said, the priorities are to get more professors teaching with mobile tools across more disciplines, and designing more sophisticated experiments — ones that rely less on opinion surveys and more on hard data that is truly capable of commenting on cause-and-effect.
For all the attention it has generated for the Texas university, the mobile learning study has been a relatively cheap investment, said Phil Schubert, Abilene Christian’s executive vice president. One concern, he said, was expanding wireless coverage to accommodate Internet use outside the dorms and classrooms. Since not all the students could necessarily afford AT&T service plans for their iPhones, and U.S. tax law would not permit the university to subsidize service plans for its students, Abilene Christian offered students the alternative of an iPod Touch — a device that shares many of the iPhone’s functions, but requires a wireless network to support Web-surfing. In order to make things equitable for the iPod Touch crowd, Abilene upped the number of wireless network access points on its 200-acre campus to 590.
“We probably spent a half a million dollars building out our infrastructure,” Schubert said. Beyond that, there was the cost of the roughly 3,000 devices, which averaged $250 or $300 each. “That’s not an extremely significant cost in the scope of a $100 million budget,” Schubert said. He said the university has received no sponsorship from Apple or AT&T.
Dean Paul Kreider gives welcome to MCAD
Dean Phyllis Self discusses library support for technology needs
Sharon Evans and Sam Edsall present on the Broadcasting Laptop program
Jill Myers presents on class polling
By RACHEL MARTIN and CHRISTINE BROUWER
submitted by Paul Kreider and Jason Beckham
For generations, school meant books — lots of books. But not anymore. Around the country, from high school to grad school, textbooks are getting harder to find. Technology has made the library something that can fit into the palm of your hand.
Cushing Academy, a private school outside Boston, is dismantling its library altogether, giving away 20,000. Headmaster James Tracy said the decision was simple. ”We decided that we can best use our resources if we decided to go with e-books and e-resources,” he said.
Empire High School, a public school in Tucson, Ariz., is another textbook-free zone. Students there are given laptops on the first day of school instead of a pile of heavy books.
But Monticello High School in Virginia has launched an even lighter experiment in digital learning. A handful of classes are trying out the iPod Touch as a primary learning tool. English teacher Mae Craddock said she structures many of her lessons around the new technology, instructing students to research, read and write on their handheld devices. It is something that she says came naturally to them. ”They took right away to it,” she told ABC News. “There was no adaptation necessary.”
Laptops and iPods cost money, of course, but so do textbooks; some can run a couple hundred dollars each. And because there is so much free educational material online, high-tech can sometimes mean low-cost.
There is another strike against traditional textbooks: They go out of date, sometimes within a year or so, and replacing them can cost a school district hundreds of thousands of dollars. But with new technology like e-books or handheld devices, updates can happen instantaneously.
Students at Monticello High School leap at the chance to use the iPod touches for schoolwork. They say it’s quick, far more convenient than big textbooks — and there is that “cool” factor.
But using Web-enabled devices in the classroom introduces a whole host of other issues. Sure, students are supposed to use the iPods for their class projects, but who will be the wiser if they shoot off an email or a tweet to their friends, or just surf the Web aimlessly instead of doing their work?
Craddock said that Monticello blocks many of the most popular social networking sites, but she encourages students to use Twitter during class to broadcast answers to questions.
All these distractions can also provide a useful lesson in how to navigate through a world where we’re inundated with media and information all day long, she said. ”They’re multi-taskers — way better than we are,” she said. “It’s something that people do in everyday life and that’s a skill they need to know.”
Not everyone is keen on the new technology, especially graduate students in their late 20s and early 30s who can’t get used to the idea of reading assignments off a small device.
Emily Cherry, a first-year student at Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, is one of dozens of students selected to take part in a pilot program. Instead of textbooks and photocopied case studies, students are issued their own Kindle, the e-reader from Amazon, at the beginning of the year.
“For me it’s just harder to digest. I’m much more of a visual person and I can recall where I read something on each page. And it’s a little harder for me on the Kindle,” she said. “I’m trying my hardest to embrace it, but I’m not sure I’m totally there yet.”
While graduate schools are trying to make students more comfortable with the digital classroom of the future, high schools and even elementary schools are playing catch-up to students who already seem to have this kind of technology built into their DNA. And education experts say there’s no turning back.
David Rose, a lecturer at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, said schools simply can’t afford to rely on traditional textbooks because the social costs are too high.
“If we continue to prepare kids for their past, that’s very expensive,” he told ABC News, “Their future is largely going to be in new media. And textbooks are no longer preparing them for that future.”
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