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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Phones Getting into Class, One Way or Another

During class, most college professors would prefer students refrained from even glancing at their phones. But some profs are beginning to find ways to incorporate smartphone apps into their instruction.

As this article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch describes, a faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University has created phone apps for local walking tours that take students right to the scene of the history they’re studying—Edgar Allan Poe’s haunts and Civil War sites, among others. Another VCU prof was taken aback when his students continued discussions via Twitter for two months after the course concluded.

According to the article, a VCU survey discovered 43% of students used mobile devices, not computers, as their chief means of accessing the Internet. When they need to check something online, they do it right where they are from their phone—no waiting until they get back to the dorm to fire up their laptop.

Another tidbit from the VCU survey: Almost two-thirds of VCU’s first-year students own smartphones. That percentage will almost certainly be much higher with next fall’s new freshman class.

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