About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Best Practices with Mobile Tech: #adjunctchat Tuesday, July 15

Mobile Technology is here to stay.  It is a fact of academic life.

Many of us may try to resist integrating mobile technology into our classrooms. However, the fact is that it is now a part of our students' lives and it is something as teachers we need to think about whether we work in a traditional classroom or online. What are some ways in which mobile technology has changed the classroom?

First, there is the positive ways. Students have access to information on their mobile devises which can broaden the curriculum. Instructors no longer have to rely on outdated information and can bring in topical issues. This is true of all majors. Another advantage is that higher education students can be sent out of the classroom to learn, observe, and experience what they are learning in context. I often use my class time to send students out and observe while keeping in touch via mobile technology. Using technology in the classroom also helps the instructor to give instant feedback as students work in class. I am able to point to different resources or help students learn how to navigate through information, developing their information literacy, communication, and critical thinking skills.

Outside of class, students can contact their instructor or TA outside of office hours. This is especially important for adjuncts and contingent faculty who may not have access to offices or private spaces for discussion. And new mobile technologies allow for more natural conversation through facetime, skype, or google hangouts. I also am able to update my students, giving them access, through mobile apps for programs such as Trello.com, edmodo, googledocs, youtube or blackboard, to updated resources, feedback, and assignments. Finally, for "temporary" faculty, students can maintain a relationship once a faculty member has left the university. Social networking sites such as facebook or linkedin allows faculty to maintain that relationship which can be a reciprocal relationship for graduate school and employment. I will check in with my former students when I'm revising my classes to get real world feedback so my course stays relevant.

However, more often than not, faculty know the downside of mobile technology. Students become distracted with their technology and social media, neither listening to the instructor or classmates (if they do happen to be focusing on class work) nor being engaged in the class (checking email, messages, or facebook or even studying for another class). For an instructor it is difficult to know when a student is taking notes on their mobile device or communicating with someone outside of class (although grins during a discussion of marketing law are a dead give away).

There are also technology difficulties, such as the digital divide (those who have more advanced technology compared to those that don't), power outages, access to wifi (or lack of access), lack of support for individual devices, and incompatibility with other digital devices. Many faculty members are not confident to use technology that they either are unfamiliar with or have no academic support for. In addition, designing activities for effective use of mobile technology in the classroom may be time consuming as there may be technology testing and training used. For example, there are different designs for smartphone use, tablets, and laptops. Smartphones require a different format than computer based content. In addition, each screen shot on a small mobile device can be linked but normally can't be seen as a whole product.

Finally, the ability for students to reach an instructor 24/7 can lead to an adjunct or part-time instructor interacting with students above and beyond the time for which they are paid. Students rarely distinguish between a tenured, full-time, or part-time instructor and may expect unlimited access.

In this week's #adjunctchat, we will trade some best practices for using mobile technology (m-learning) both in traditional classes and online classes. We will look at the use of mobile technology in academics as a whole and the challenges for adjuncts specifically.

1) Do you allow the use of mobile technology in your courses? Why or why not?
2) What are some challenges in using mobile technology (especially for adjuncts/contingent faculty)
3) How might you integrate mobile technology into your teaching?
4) What boundaries do/might you need to create for effective use of mobile technology with your students?
5) What resources would you like to have when developing activities, resources, instructional design, technology for mobile use in the classroom?

This discussion is open to anyone interested in mobile technology in the classroom. I'll try to put up some links of examples I've used in my classes.