From dating apps and social experiences, to food delivery services and procuring transportation options, there is no question that smartphones have become intertwined in nearly all aspects of our lives. Mobile devices have provided convenience and access to virtually all we do, engaging users in content around the clock. When applied strategically to the learning experience, we see the same benefits.
With 92 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 owning a smartphone, we can assume that most students will use their mobile devices in some form for school in the upcoming year. I would go even further to say that in 2017, we will see more students using their smartphones as a primary platform for engaging in the education experience. This is positive progress because when used boldly and strategically, mobile in education can engage students in new ways and instill confidence in learners, which will ultimately lead to better outcomes.
Humanize the Digital Learning Experience
Mobile in education goes beyond accessing a digital version of a textbook on your smartphone in the same way you would access your favorite beach read on a Kindle. Instead, it’s a fundamental transformation of the learning process. Smartphones allow for a heightened sense of connectivity that defies physical boundaries.
The MindTap Mobile app, which accompanies Cengage’s flagship digital course offerings, enables instructors and students to connect one-on-one outside the classroom. It provides a much needed platform for “just in time help,” so students who are struggling with their coursework outside of normal working hours have access to resources, classmates, and even their instructor, with the click of a button.
The ability to communicate directly and quickly strengthens the bond between instructors and students. It demonstrates that instructors are willing to meet students on their terms in a way that is comfortable and convenient for them. This heightened connectivity humanizes the digital learning experience and brings the student closer to the classroom and instructor, regardless of where they are in the world.
Instill Confidence in Students
Imagine a world where instead of playing Candy Crush during the morning commute to work or school, students use their devices to read course material, do homework and study for quizzes. Instead of pumping their fists when they make it to the next level in Angry Birds, they confidently smile knowing they will enter the classroom feeling prepared and set up for success. Well-designed smartphone apps help students gain confidence and take ownership over their education.
Today’s students often juggle work and family obligations with their school schedules, so lack of time is a constant barrier to success. The MindTap Mobile app helps to alleviate this pain point as it allows students to work through the curriculum in a way that fits into their daily lives, serving up small blocks of learning material at a time.
Technology advancements over the last year have made it possible for students to download their entire textbook to their smartphone in 10 seconds or less. Once downloaded, they can access the material, highlight, make notes, search and bookmark the material, regardless of whether they are connected to the internet. This offline learning capability ensures that students who don’t have consistent access to the internet aren’t at a disadvantage when it comes to their education.
In addition to increased connectivity and confidence, mobile technology will improve students’ workflow. Mobile apps that integrate seamlessly into students’ lifestyles allow them to make progress on the go, regardless of where they are or how much time they have. Mastering a set of flashcards during a lunchbreak, or taking a practice quiz during the morning commute brings the learning experience outside the classroom in a way that fits naturally into students’ lifestyles.
While mobile devices were once seen as a deterrent from the education experience, they are now becoming an integral tool to improving student outcomes. We know that higher levels of engagement lead to better results. Education apps like MindTap Mobile send push notifications, messages of encouragement and reminders. This engagement pulls students into the learning material and prevents them from slipping between the cracks.
Learning materials must evolve to meet the needs of today’s students and today’s students are on smartphones. By investing in a mobile strategy to support convenience, confidence, and collaboration, we can engage students in their course content, while expanding the learning experience outside of the classroom. Embracing mobile devices and providing students with tools that fit naturally into their lifestyle will improve learning outcomes and result in more confident, connected learners.
George Moore is the Chief Technology Officer at Cengage, where he’s responsible for driving innovation and shaping the Company’s long-term technology vision. With a passion for revolutionizing the education and publishing industries through technology, Moore spearheads partnerships and collaborations with faculty and students to drive a student-centric model of digital innovation.