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May, 2010:

The Mobile Campus: Higher Ed in the iPhone Age

This powerpoint by assistant professor Gerry McKiernan at Iowa State University describes the increasing use of mobile devices such as mobile phones, e-readers, tablets, and laptops by students and the general population to access information on the internet and perform tasks. The author advocates that higher education adopt more of these technologies for instruction with a focus especially on mobile devices and wireless access. You can see the entire powerpoint at http://www.public.iastate.edu/~gerrymck/MobileCampus.ppt .

Does Wikipedia Suck?

In an article by Inside Higher Ed, the author discusses faculty’s perception of Wikipedia and its use by students’ for research papers. Some professors immediately decry Wikipedia as unreliable due to its open-editing nature and forbid students from using it. The author who is also an instructor tested the theory by assigning students different topics to research on Wikipedia and report on the findings. Contrary to what some people believe, Wikipedia does contain a lot of useful information and it is written in a clear and easy to understand format. However, while the articles were useful, they did not contain the depth of information as would be found in a scholarly paper or publication. As with most general encyclopedias, Wikipedia gives a basic overview of the topic at hand as well as references to more in-depth articles but the information is often not appropriate for in-depth research.
To read the entire article, visit http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/instant_mentor/weir22

Designing Campus Learning Spaces

A new report released by the University of Washington Learning and Scholarly Technologies revealed many new insights in to how students use technology on campus. The report contains data gathered from over 3,200 students in  Autumn quarter and was comprised of survey questions as well as a focus group test.

The responses from the survey showed that while many students did use technology frequently off-campus, there were a number of impediments that needs to be addressed to help encourage technology use on campus. Nearly 93% of survey respondents said that they owned a laptop however only 35% of the respondents said they brought them on campus.

Many of the respondents said that they would like to see improvements to the campus environment that would better support their technology needs before bringing equipment on campus. Such improvements include more electrical outlets to charge laptops, quiet areas to work without distraction, evening access, and comfortable furniture.

Based on these findings, LST made recommendations to the campus community for designing campus learning spaces that consisted of providing general access to computers and equipment, minimize obstructions to laptop use, provide access to printing, establish and/or enhance collaboration areas, enhance aesthetics of learning spaces and study areas, and to further involve students in all stages of campus design.

You can read the full report about designing campus learning spaces including examples of good design as well as more information about how design can impact student learning at http://www.washington.edu/lst/research_development/papers/2010/Designing_Campus_Learning_Spaces.pdf

New National Ed Tech Plan could mean Radical Changes in Schools

The US Department of Education recently released the draft National Educational Technology Plan which critiqued many aspects of the American educational system. The plan would implement major and sometimes radical changes to education including longer school hours as well as blur the current model of the K-12 system being separate from higher education. One of the key points the plan makes is that the ” education system is failing in large part owing to a failure to engage students.” The plan calls for more partnerships between educational institutions and K-12 schools as well as technology developers in the private and public sectors to help increase collaboration among educators. The plan also states that a significant part of the solution would be increased integration of technology in schools to help engage students and increase productivity levels between the students and educators. You can read more about this plan at THE Journal.

E-textbooks could save students money

In an opinion piece in the University of Minnesota Duluth student newspaper, the writer observes how online version of textbooks cost significantly less than actual textbooks and how students can save money by using the online version only. Not only can these online books be read on PCs, they could also be brought in to class via electronic devices like iPads or Kindles. As more textbook publishers start producing online versions of their textbooks, it is likely that the number of students purchasing physical books will decrease.

Some problems that might stem from using this model would be that instructors could more easily deviate from the book and not follow the course curriculum although it is assumed that students and other faculty will make sure that this doesn’t happen. You can read the entire article at the link below:

http://media.www.umdstatesman.com/media/storage/paper1351/news/2010/03/03/Opinion/EBooks.Could.Save.Students.Money-3883591.shtml