Mobile technology and mobile applications are here and here to stay. Almost everyone has a smartphone and/or a tablet with them at all times and they use them for everything from entertaining the kids to work projects to staying connected with family and friends to finding recipes for dinner to checking on class work and class projects. With that ability these technologies and the applications that are available for them can be extremely useful in our fast-paced, always connected, rat race world. Mobile education is the wave of the future and there are so many ways for adult learners to engage in and push this awesome use of technology into new avenues.
Smartphones and tablets are amazing educational tools when used with understanding and clarity of purpose. They truly do make learning open and available everywhere and anywhere at any time. They also help to bring the real world into the classroom (Wylie, 2013). This is important in today’s educational world as more and more of our students, both children and adults, are “digital natives” or at least digitally fluent. This almost organic digital understanding means that our current methods of teaching and learning are as sorely outmoded and obsolete as our classroom technology becomes every six months. Using smartphones and tablets in our classrooms will enhance the learning of our students because they are far more comfortable with the tools available to them. When you close off these tools you close off learning and limit your students.
How do you make smartphones and tablets useful and amazing educational tools? You add applications to them that make learning interesting and engaging or place other opportunities and tools in their hands. Two such applications are Dropbox and Blackboard mobile. With Dropbox students are able to save, maintain, work with and share any and all of their coursework, research and personal documents on multiple platforms. That ability to access and work with their work on any device opens the material and the learning to them on a broader level and keeps them engaged in the course and the activities involved. Also because the material is saved to the Dropbox website if something happens to your primary access point (desktop, laptop, smartphone, etc.) the learner still has access through different means. Blackboard mobile brings all the functions and capabilities of Blackboard to the student’s mobile device making class available at any time in a dynamic fashion. On top of that it brings the campus, student life and other learning tools to the student’s fingertips. If a student is studying animal behavior in class he or she is able to look up the class material on animal behavior and view videos again or check course discussions or blogs and keep up with the work. When students need library services they are there for them. If a student wants to know when and where the next campus shuttle or bus will be available Blackboard mobile will show him or her. It can also show them how to get from one side of campus to the other. What is the college experience without the student life? Blackboard mobile brings that to a student’s fingertips as well showing students what is going on and where giving them easy access to campus happenings. Another wonderful feature is the ability to integrate the Dropbox application. All of these abilities make Blackboard mobile the ultimate portable campus directory and learning tool for today’s adult learner.
Smartphones and tablets are awesome tools to open learning to students on their terms and in their comfort zones. Dropbox and Blackboard mobile are applications that engage the students in their learning and make it fun and interesting. Using Dropbox will give my students the freedom and opportunity to create and share materials with each other allowing for improved collaboration and group projects. It will also give them the comfort of knowing that they have access wherever they are and whenever they need it. It also allows me to share things with the students. Blackboard mobile makes mobile learning everything it should be. My students will be able to use it to connect with every aspect of the school and class and open their minds to the possibilities of learning in general and mobile learning in particular. When these two applications are combined my students are given the mobile learning world quite literally at their fingertips freeing them to truly engage in that learning and making it truly a part of themselves.
Blackboard mobile. Retrieved from http://www.blackboard.com/platforms/mobile/overview.aspx
Dropbox. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/tour#!/tour/0
Wylie, J. (2013). Mobile learning technologies for 21st century classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3754742