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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Mobile Learning: Faculty Stories

In this session, Faculty from the University of Maryland spoke about how they integrated the use of mobile devices into their courses. They outlined a number of initial goals for the mobility initiative but focused on three.

  • To enhance the classroom learning experience.
  • To promote interaction between the faculty and students.
  • To support the enterprise (link individuals back to institutional services)

The institution did attempt to engage in a campus wide mobile initiative. While interest started out high and weekly orientations/activities were provided to support and engage the participants, students did not follow through with their participation. I believe the statement made was that of the 200 students who started the project only 15 were in attendance at the last session. While the numbers in my statement may not be correct, it is clear that student interest waned. It is important to note that a survey of the student population at the institution revealed that only 50% of the individuals owned a smart phone.

University of Maryland held a summer institute during which 10 faculty fellows received devices (or funds for the device if they already had one). The goal was for the faculty fellows to integrate these technologies into their teaching practice.

  • One faculty member encouraged students to bring their laptops to class and to engage with each other and the teaching assistant using Wimba during class.
  • Another faculty member had students use their devices to create a storytelling blog where each assignment tied into the blog and was graded.
  • In an iPad trial, 55 students received iPads for use in a Mobile Journalism course( A few of the apps that were used included apps for eBooks, Rss Feeds, accessing online articles, apps for To-Dos and Reminders. ( a smart phone app was used to record audio interviews. QIK ( also a smart phone app was used to capture video (the iPad doesn’t have a camera, yet). They only used free apps. The students found that the assignments they were given allowed them to learn how to use the devices in real-time discovery and application to real-life situations/needs.

A survey on the role of the iPad in the student life resulted in 1/3 of the students using the iPad as a laptop replacement; 1/3 of the students, mostly from engineering and computational fields, found that it couldn’t function for their purposes; and 1/3 of the students didn’t have feelings either way.

Interesting note made during the session. Alan Kay, in 1968 proposed “a children’s computer” called the Dynabook. Reviewing the video on YouTube ( you’ll see it looks very much like the iPad today.

Some considerations regarding providing such technology to students and having them use Apps include:

  • Student liability/responsibility for the cost of the iPad
  • FERPA concerns – what belongs in the cloud vs what needs to reside within the LMS or behind Institutional firewalls.
  • Concerns about Apps gathering personal information.

While it was noted that iPads and mobile devices are a great way to engage students, there was little if any message as to how these devices assist the faculty. This theme was missing through out all of the conversations for the use of mobile technology. What’s  the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for the faculty member?

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This entry was posted on February 14, 2011 by in ELI 2011.

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