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GCN : September 2013
GCN SEPTEMBER 2013 • GCN.COM 25 When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And if you're teaching current generations of students, that means making use of mo- bile devices and mobile learning applica- tions. "Students do use these mobile applica- tions," said Roopa Mathur, a professor at Irvine Valley College in California. "All of my classes I do on Blackboard," she said, referring to Blackboard Inc.'s Mobile Learn application, "even my in- class classes, my face-to-face classes. My classes are totally paperless. All of my syl- labuses, all of my handouts, all of my as- signments are put up in Blackboard." E-learning companies have taken no- tice. Although they're encountering some bumps along the road, all the major course-management systems are rapidly being expanded to support mobile de- vices. "We've met with many instructors, stu- dents, and administrators of both higher education and K-12 institutions," said Mark Suman, mobile product manager for Instructure, the maker of the Canvas course-management suite. "One thing we've learned from talking to them is that the students love their mobile devices. They've told us that the more we can in- volve their mobile devices in the class- room, the more engaged they are in the learning process." Paul Terry, vice president for profes- sional education for Blackboard., agreed. "We live in an age where everyone ex- pects to be connected via mobile in all as- pects of their lives---and the educational experience is no exception," he said. As a result, all of the major vendors --- also including Desire2Learn and Pearson eCollege --- have been moving to provide a slice of the functionality offered in their Web-based suites to mobile users. Those Web-based suites offer notifications, cal- endars, document sharing, discussion boards, e-mail, assignment drop-boxes, and gradebooks, but the initial mobile applications from most vendors provided little more than notifications and the abil- ity to check grades. That, Suman said, was not good enough. "Some students tried the app when it first launched, and since it didn't have all the functionality in it they gave up on it," he said. As a result, Instruc- ture just released a 2.0 overhaul barely six months after releasing 1.0. (The An- droid version of the mobile application "Does every student have these devices? If they don't, how can you possibly make an assignment that requires one?" -- RYAN SEILHAMER, UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA Professors are teaching students in their own technical language, conducting coursework with the help of mobile applications. BY PATRICK MARSHALL Mobile becomes the new BMOC