As campuses downsized and venues such as iTunes U, Academic Earth, and YouTube EDU were created to host educational content online, institutions began to offer online degree programs. But with the advent of social media in the world of higher education, how long would it take before electronic devices such as iPads replace the standard classroom textbooks?
For students attending Milwaukee Career College (MCC), a college offering higher education in the medical field, it could be as soon as this fall. To tackle high-priced textbook costs and ever-changing technological and classroom communication, MCC is supplying iPads to students enrolling in their medical career programs. Each iPad will come equipped with tools such as presentation software, diagrams, and medical reference books as needed. This move will not only provide convenience for students, but has the added benefit of allowing them to focus on more important tasks when taking notes, forming study groups, and ultimately taking exams. While MCC is embracing this new technology in their course programs, they are not the first to do so.
The University of Southern California (USC) sought to answer the question addressed above four years ago by introducing one of the first higher education mobile apps, [email protected], in association with TouchAppMedia and 2tor, Inc. [email protected] is designed as a handheld educational tool for students enrolled in USC’s online teaching master’s degree program, and implements many functions used in successful social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter.
As online course students do not have the luxury of attending classes at an institution, the app creates a virtual classroom environment, allowing students to have “face-time” with instructors and other students, ask or answer questions by way of “raising their hands,” view presentations while taking notes, and even discuss topics through a chat forum service.
When class is not in session, students can still access materials such as lectures and videos as well as check course schedules or join other discussion groups. The experience mimics that of a student physically attending the university, but combines it with the convenience of attending from miles away.
With over 1,500 students enrolled since the app was first launched and an increase in faculty and staff to accommodate, the program has seen a great deal of success. Since online degree programs are becoming more popular, participating universities will need to step up their approach to equalize the standards of both their online and campus programs.