The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

One App to Teach Them All

Mobile 3.0 is a free app created to provide students at the University of Maryland, College Park, with ways to produce and post multimedia content in journalism classes taught by Ronald Yaros. The app includes built-in tools for photos, audio, and video, along with a way for the instructor to send push text notifications to students without their phone number.

Yaros, associate professor in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, designed the app for his students as a way to prepare them for a future where technological skills are paramount.

“While we know that any device can distract from learning, we don’t know how to change the way a device can be used for sustained engagement and more effective learning,” Yaros said in an interview for Campus Technology. “That’s why we need a mindset shift to adapt a tool’s use to class meetings, assignments, and activities that require technology.”

Laptops were a distraction to Yaros, so he banned them in favor of tablets and smartphones that use his interactive app. The app provides students with instant polls, open-ended questions for discussion, live web sites and Twitter feeds, and quizzes that send scores back to Yaros. All course-related content is viewed on the students’ devices.

“From week one, they are repeatedly reading, researching, interpreting, writing, posting, and discussing the content produced by me and by their peers,” Yaros said. “I scaffold these skills so that students constantly build on and improve their previously learned techniques for effectively communicating digital content on the web and on mobile devices.”

Students have to apply all those skills to produce and post multimedia reports related to their major for their final project. Yaros has found his classes have improved attendance and participation, along with better evaluations by students.

“The bottom line is not the technology itself but how the technology is used—and there are countless ways to use it,” Yaros said. “My hope is that students leave my course with the professional skills they can apply in their field of work and not think Twitter or Blogger is useful only in social circles.”

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