The widespread adoption of tablet computers and smart phones will be the biggest change to the delivery of education since the advent of the personal computer according to Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) Associate Professor Philip Uys.
Professor Uys, CSU’s Director of Strategic Learning and Teaching Innovation at the University's Division of Learning and Teaching Services said CSU was already deeply involved in what would be a ‘mobile learning’ revolution.
“Mobile learning is about supporting the mobility of the learner by tailoring content to the contemporary devices they use every day,” he said.
“It uses the student's own devices and moves the University into their world in a much more personal way than ever before.”
CSU has been engaged in mobile learning since it began to offer podcasts in 2008, allowing students to download recordings from lectures they could listen to on their mobile devices at their own convenience.
Since then the University has added mobile interfaces to an ‘e-portfolio’ system that students can use to build an online portfolio of their work, and to a ‘CSU Replay’ facility which offers audio and video recordings of lectures and other material available for download through Apple’s ‘iTunes U’.
The current focus is on developing educational material that can be shared across a number of mobile devices and consumed by students in short bursts throughout the day.
“We conducted a survey of students in 2010 and 87 per cent of more than 4,000 respondents told us they wanted to revisit work from lectures on their tablet or phone,” Professor Uys said.
To that end, CSU is undertaking a number of mobile learning trials including the use of tablet computers during workplace learning engagements, the development of rich media content for mobile devices and using tablet computers for ‘paperless-marking’ of assessments submitted and returned online.
“It was really tablet computers, and specifically the iPad, that pushed mobile learning into the spotlight,” Professor Uys said.
“I haven’t seen a single piece of technology have the sort of impact on the delivery of education since the advent of the personal computer.”
“The take-up of this technology, and the demand for universities and other institutions to make better use of it, is being driven by the students; we’re just trying to catch up in our desire to provide an excellent student experience at Charles Sturt University.”
Professor Uys will deliver a public lecture titled Mobile Learning: Promise and Practice at CSU in Orange on 2 November at 6pm.
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