24 Complete BCC Mobile Initiative Training

Smiling faces were seen all around as “Group 1″ of the BCC Mobile Initiative completed six hours of training in ipads on March 8. The workshops, designed and led by English Professor Nicole Mooney and CTL Director Dori Digenti, were highly interactive and full of questions, shared discovery and building confidence for entering or furthering mobile learning at the college.

Funded under Massachusetts state Vision PIF and the Massachusetts Community College Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA) funding, the workshops covered a range of topics, including ipad use and care; Apps to support at-risk and developmental student learning; cloud computing; Open Educational Resources; Creating quality online materials; Accessibility; and contextualized learning modules.

BCC will train a second group this Spring. Plans are in the works for advanced workshops on discipline-specific apps; BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) guidelines; and other topics.

When tracking your passwords becomes crazy-making…

This blog is not usually a place for targeted “tech advice,” but I have found that the number of unique passwords that I need to keep track of is now overwhelming. I was spending significant time asking for password resets. I am currently using Roboform, one of the password keepers reviewed in this lifehacker post. It is making my life much easier and more efficient. Perhaps it’s time to consider one of these helpful tools if you are carrying around pieces of paper with an increasingly long and insecure list of passwords!


Horizon Report, Part 2

A group of six faculty and staff gathered in the CTL last Friday to consider the 2012 Horizon report (full report is at: http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/HR2012.pdf). The first point noted was that the report lacked any clear information about the accessibility of the two technologies that are impacting us now: mobile apps and tablet computers. (The conversation on other technologies in the Report: learning analytics, gestural computing, etc., took a back seat to these two topics.)

The group felt that this new wave of technology — tablets and smartphones supported by thousands of apps — offers an amazing opportunity to enhance student learning, but also that there is a very dramatic challenge for both faculty and students to learn what and how to use it.

We discussed the proliferation of smartphones on campus and the potential for addressing the digital divide (but see this perspective as well: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/opinion/sunday/internet-access-and-the-new-divide.html), which is a very relevant issue at the public community college. Instructors shared stories of students with either marginal or no computer access, or skills, and how this can severely handicap their ability to be successful, especially in technology-intensive courses. There were also stories of students using their smartphones to access Moodle, take quizzes, check assignments, etc. However, there is not evidence that students are submitting writing through a smartphone, given the limited keyboard and screen size of the devices.

One instructor uses mobile devices (iPads) in her class, and shared that the ability for students to interact in small groups with apps, to experiment, and to build shared knowledge, has revolutionized the level of work she can assign.

If mobile devices become a part of the classroom, what will this mean for our (already challenged) Internet bandwidth on campus?

Participants felt that a “freshman experience” course for all students that included building their ability to use mobile devices and apps would serve students well for their future classes and for their careers.

The conversation then bridged into pedagogical considerations in the use of technology. If gestural computing and dictation replace keyboards, does that offer the same critical thinking/processing sequence to the student? How will documents be proofread, revised, delivered? If we use learning analytics to learn detailed information about student learning patterns and use “differentiated instruction” to meet individual needs, will we lose serendipity in the process?

This was a great discussion and an important aspect of technology planning and strategy. Look for more sessions in the future!

Expansion of the E-Textbook: Implications for Learning

This is somewhat in-depth post about a tiff between an app developer “Kno” who produces a tool that generates supplementary digital content from textbooks, and one of the publishers they work with, Cengage.

Inside Higher Ed has its view of the issue, which is multifaceted, but I have my own:

- Is Kno now at the forefront of a movement to “chunk” textbooks into bite-sized pieces, including video, flash cards, etc. (think Spark Notes), that will further chip away at instructors’ ability to get students to read books, digital or otherwise?

- How can we strike the balance between academic freedom for instructors to use whatever supplements they want, but maintain students’ ability to be successful across so many digital domains?

- Which leads to: how do we get students (and ourselves!) to the point of technological fluency where we see that ALL word processors work about the same, ALL LMS’s work about the same, etc., and reduce the learning curve for each new technology that comes along? Since the idea of controlling what technology comes into the campus is a fantasy (students bring their own, on their phones, these days), increasing our tech (and security) IQ seems to be the best answer

Here’s the article: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/03/01/kno-cengage-lawsuit-highlights-high-stakes-digital-migration. I welcome your comments.

Hurdles Remain With the Move to Digital Classrooms

This brief post offers a reality check on the techno-hype about the use of technology on the college campus. This instructor presents the ground-level view. You will identify with what he says if you teach at a community college!

Hurdles Remain Before College Classrooms Go Completely Digital.

Colleges Say Tablets Improve Teaching and Learning | EdTech Magazine

This article presents a good run-through of several colleges’ implementation of tablets. It’s a short article, so don’t expect too much. Would be very nice to see what students think the benefit of the tablets is for them…

Colleges Say Tablets Improve Teaching and Learning | EdTech Magazine.