As technologists, we are highly driven to explore new technology. Sometimes, we get excited about things not because of what a new tech can do but because it can be done. We're just "wired" to be "wired." And that's good; it means we're in the right job. But faculty don't share the same thinking. They are "wired" to teach. Faculty get excited about research, about new ways to instruct the next generation of students. And that's also good; that means they are in the right job.
Historically, most IT shops have not collaborated well with their users. In higher education, if we do not work together with our campus, that will be our downfall. In looking at new technology, we need to put aside our "geek" roots and evaluate the new tech from the perspective of faculty and students: "Can I use this to teach a class?" or "Can I use this to take notes in a class?"
Along similar lines, University Business magazine writes in "The Collaborative Campus" that institutions should involve faculty in planning the programs and designing applications for the devices. From Veronica Diaz, associate director of the Educause Learning Initiative: "The most innovative work that I see happening is when institutions direct money, resources, and time toward those who are on the front lines teaching."
The article shares three examples of how three institutions are carving out their paths to collaborative learning through mobile technology use:
Seton Hall gave each of the 1,400 students who showed up for freshman orientation a Nokia Windows phone and a six-month voice and data plan. The faculty and campus IT worked together to support students in the new experimental model. Faculty incorporated the mobile devices into their lesson plans. IT modernized an existing campus information app to incorporate student-specific information for freshmen.
To better engage students and boost retention, Dodge City Community College began requiring every student to have an iPad. In technical education classes, students cam record task demonstrations on their iPads to watch later. In math classes, faculty use a whiteboard app and voiceover feature on the iPad to review complex problems, while students use the same app to work their own problems and get feedback.
Colgate University is exploring ways to merge mobile devices with Google Apps for Education. In January, for example, one faculty member began participating in a pilot program to provide free iPads to a select group of students, using Google Apps to facilitate document sharing.