ABILENE, Texas--()--This week, Abilene Christian University took the next step in its exploration of innovative ways to utilize mobile technology as part of the 21st century classroom. During the university’s June orientation session, ACU administrators handed out the next-generation Apple iPhone 3GS for students to begin using over the summer. This second phase of implementation of mobile devices will continue ACU’s efforts to provide new opportunities for professors and students to interact, explore and discover in and out of the classroom.
“When I got my iPhone and saw all the apps it had to help me connect with other people on campus, I was really excited”
“We are very excited to provide iPhone and iPod touch devices to our incoming students again this year,” said Kevin Roberts, associate vice president for operations at ACU. “By providing these amazing tools to our students well before they arrive on campus, students will have more time to become accustomed to the devices, and learn more about the university and community which they will soon call home. We will be able to communicate very specific information as we help them transition to a college environment.”
In fall 2008, ACU became the first university in the nation to announce a mobile learning program based on Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, distributing these devices to all incoming freshmen in an effort to integrate technology and learning both in and out of the classroom. An ACU mobile portal helped connect students to professors, as well as to the campus through news and calendars, course documents and media. In-class surveys and polls provided an innovative engagement tool for students in the classroom, and applications from Apple’s online App Store helped many teachers discover new ways of teaching their courses.
“Our research last year clearly showed these converged media devices have an impact on the students’ engagement,” said Roberts. “We are very excited about having two classes of students benefitting from this new learning technology in the 21st century classroom.”
Dr. William Rankin, ACU’s director of educational innovation, said he’s excited to see how teachers will use some of the new capabilities of the new generation of Apple’s devices. “In their earlier generations, the iPhone and iPod touch were best-in-class tools for consuming media and exploring the web,” Rankin noted, “but the new software and new devices make these increasingly compelling for creating content, too. We expect to see a lot of teachers and students exploring the use of video, audio and rich messaging in their academic work, and the new generation of devices will help us do that.”
ACU continually works to integrate innovative technology into its curriculum to create a greater sense of community and provide an exceptional education to its students.
“When I got my iPhone and saw all the apps it had to help me connect with other people on campus, I was really excited,” said Corinne Morris, an incoming freshman from Abilene. “I can tell this is going to make my experience going into college more meaningful. I can already start getting involved. It’s so cool that ACU is bringing technology like this into education.”
In 2006, the New Media Consortium first identified mobile phones as a technology to watch and this year’s report places it on the near horizon for adoption across higher education. ACU’s LINK leadership team, a technology advisory team made up of faculty, administrators and campus technologists, has used these and other NMC findings in developing a vision for projects like the mobile learning program. The New Media Consortium, an international consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and technologies, recently recognized ACU for its mobile learning initiative with the prestigious “Center for Excellence” award.
To learn about ACU’s mobile learning, watch the video at www.acu.edu/news/videos/acuconnected.html.