For students, having an individual device and personalized screen for learning during a lecture is no longer a luxury – it’s an expectation.
Higher education experts say mobilized learning is only trending forward, and becomingly more deeply integrated into colleges’ curricula.
“I’m finding more and more that students are bringing their own devices to campus just because it’s convenient,” says Samantha Becker, Senior Director of Communications, Director of NMC Horizon Report. “These are the devices they use to do their homework, and to do everything else in their lives. It’s their major productivity tool.”
But what happens with professors discover students are abusing that technology during class, and are checking Facebook instead of taking notes?
Some colleges are reacting to the perception that students are bringing mobile devices to class to feed into social media distractions. Sometimes, professors take it a step further and ban mobile devices in their classes altogether.
“It’s a trend that’s not going to go back,” he says. “In my classes, it’s not so much that people are using computers to get on the internet and check their Facebook pages. It’s natural and part of the new generation of students who are used to having soft copies in front of them. They’re used to looking at personal displays versus being slaves to a common display right in the front of the class that they can barely see, have no control over and no attraction to.”
However, many higher education experts think that taking away technology and the freedom of BYOD will lose students’ attention.
Steve Hix, President and Founder of Circle Technologies says professors should aim to keep a connection with students while they utilize technology , especially during a lecture.
Once every student is connected, Circlebox enables a professor to see each of his students’ names on his device. If a student leaves a lecture to update their Facebook status, that student’s connection goes red on the professor’s device.
“When they’re connected, they pretty much have to pay attention,” Hix says. “That way, a teacher can still do what a teacher does, but in the corner of his eye, he can always see that if he wants too. That’s how you keep control of it.”
Click here to read more about Circlebox.
“The key issue is that you want to keep the student on your page, to keep them on your lecture, your presentation,” he says. “You want them to be connected, not off drifting around on Angry Birds or something.”
Becker says that professors can foster this connection by talking with students and establishing a mutual relationship with technology.
“I think there needs to be an open dialogue between the instructor and the students about the expectations of technology use,” she says. “There needs to be a strategy on how to engage them most effectively so it’s not perceived as a distraction.”
Now, all that’s left is for professors and students to learn how to adapt.
Khormaei says that colleges should consider accepting the trend and invest in supportive solutions like CircleBox, a software that mirrors the content on a PC screen to separate wireless, internet-less devices during a lecture.
“The way we’re looking at it at Circle Technology is that we’re not trying to fight with that trend, we’re trying to go with that trend,” he says. “At the core for the classrooms, the application we see is if students are used to interacting with their own devices, they’re already used to a type of brightness and resolution that’s comfortable for them regardless of where they’re sitting in the classroom. We feel that enables more engagement.”
Chris Boyd, who works with Circle Technology’s media, says solutions like CircleBox benefit both students and professors because it supplements BYOD, enables professors control over what content their students see and how fast they can see it.
This guarantees that each student is on the same page as the professor, and prevents them from wandering onto social media.
“I think the emphasis should be put on the fact that when a student is connected, the student cannot go play on the web,” Boyd says. “As long as they’re connected, students can’t go and do those things. I think that’s really what any teacher or professor wants.”
However, professors also need to be on the same page as students. That means professors need to be in tune with students’ technology demands and recognize that students are adult enough to handle the ways they learn.
“At that level, the students are adults that choose what professor and what classroom they need to be going to,” Khormaei says. “One of the fundamental core foundations that higher-ed is built on is the freedom of teaching. I think we need to allow the freedoms…If the approach works and the students learn, then more students will attend the class and the class’s education will go up.”
While students are accustomed to having technological freedom in their education, professors can also use technology to boost their expectations of students.
“When you look at the college atmosphere, it’s getting more and more driven to lecture and showing up for class, or you’re not going to make it through your course,” Boyd says. “It used to be you didn’t have to show up – just take the test and you’d be fine. Now, you have to be in class. On top of that, a lot of these schools are going to online programs that when the student gets home, they go online and fill out questions and answers and homework digitally. [Professors] want to control that classroom, and Bring Your Own Device doesn’t let you control things.”
Becker says technologies like lecture capture enable professors to extend learning outside the classroom, and use freed up class time for more learning opportunities.
“Now that professors have lecture capture, they can put their lectures online and students can watch their lectures at home,” she says. “What I think is most important isn’t necessarily the lecture capture part, but the idea that students can watch the lectures at home and that frees up class time, and what instructors decide to do with that class time…If students are able to watch the lectures at home there’s much more of an opportunity for an immersive learning experiences , more group work, and richer and deeper discussions.”
Becker also says that mobile learning is going to become more prominent in the future. She says colleges should get ready for the new era of this digital age.
“I think that we’re going towards an increasingly mobile academic world and that’s extremely exciting,” she says. “Being able to devise teaching approaches that are device agnostic and creating learning content that is device agnostic is really going to be key to advancing mobile learning in higher education.”
Follow the Map to Mobile Device Management
Know what you’re talking about
Khormaei says one of the first steps to managing mobile devices in your classroom is understanding the class objective. He says once that connection is clear, professors can use technology as a tool.
“Now, I think instructors and professors need to look at it as a natural power that students are used to,” he says. “Starting from that perspective, instructors are obligated to look at how best to reach the objective that they have in the class…Rather than looking at [technology] as an extra, unnecessary tool, in each one of those steps, the smart devices can be used to enhance that segment of experience.”
Get ready for growing pains
Khormaei says that professors should expect a backlash during the adjustment period.
He says that both professors and students should encourage a beneficial relationship with technology in the classroom.
“Just like any other type of technology, there is going to be a backlash, and that push and pull is absolutely required for any technology to find a home,” he says. “Every technology that I can think of in our history has had a huge impact on lives; there has been some positive aspects and negative aspects. The people trying to push back at the trend have allowed that new technology to find the most optimum home, I think.”
Practice policies and procedures
Becker says that enforced policies in the classroom will make technology implementation easier, and will keep professors and students satisfied.
“I think it’s important that there are policies in place at a university to have effective use of technology use, and best practices,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a solution to just ban the technology or devices entirely. [They should look into] how to make them manageable for both the teacher and the learner.”