One of the most common rules in any classroom is “Put away those cell phones!” As a Notre Dame student, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard this phrase. Yet, as classrooms filled in the Eck Hall of Law on Friday, September 28th for the Mobile Summit, it was clear that this was not your typical Notre Dame lecture. Not only were cell phones encouraged, they were integrated into many of the presentations. Rather than sneakily checking Facebook under the table, attendees could play bingo by checking numbers sent via text message,or by using the #mobilend hashtag on Twitter. This unique integration reflects the changing attitude towards mobile devices in the classroom. Once seen as only a distraction, mobile devices are becoming increasingly valuable learning tools. At the Mobile Summit, discussion focused on this evolving view of mobile technology and its role in daily life.
Mobile in the Classroom:
Mobile technology has the potential to change the future of research and teaching. Services like box.nd.edu and google.nd.edu are paving the way for innovation and collaboration on campus. Notre Dame is using iBooks Author to bring course content from the classroom to the iPad. Faculty, such as Professor Julian Velasco, embrace mobile technology as a more effective way to present material and engage students.
He says, “At least 75% of my job – from teaching, to reading, to drafting – I do with the iPad rather than a traditional computer or laptop.”
Using mind maps and interactive polls, Velasco can clearly present important ideas and gauge how well students are grasping the material. He can also search hundreds of scholarly articles for key terms, and go on to highlight, mark, and type right on these documents so that students can follow along during lecture. This utilization of technology keeps students involved and active in the learning process.
For tech savvy attendees, there was discussion about coding and creating digital content for mobile devices. Speakers provided insight into responsive web design and designing for multiple platforms using the LiveCode tool or jQuery Mobile. Apple consulting engineer Steve Hayman spoke about Apple’s new operating system. With good humor, he apologized for the poor map quality on the new version of iOS, before explaining how the new system’s features can be used in app development. The new developer tools make it easier than ever to create a new app. With Xcode 4, the interface builder is completely built in making it easier to edit code, debug your app, and see the result. Leaving his presentation, even I, with no prior coding experience, felt empowered to create a mobile app that would top App Store charts.
As a computer programming major, senior Cedric Strickland is no doubt familiar with coding. Yet, Strickland chose to focus on how mobile technology affects student life. Any Notre Dame student would be hard pressed to imagine campus life without access to their cell phone. They have become more than phones, serving many critical daily functions for most students. Strickland surveyed Notre Dame students and found that in addition to calling and texting, over almost all students surveyed use their phones for the Internet, as an alarm clock, a camera, or GPS. Mobile technology has become so vital in daily life that it is difficult to imagine a single day without it. As people become more and more reliant on mobile devices, it is perhaps even harder to conceive what the future of mobile technology has in store.
Is this rapidly increasing prevalence and dependence on mobile technology disturbing? asked one audience member.
“Yes,” Strickland immediately responded. “All of it.” Indeed, it can be troubling to wonder where mobile is headed and how dependent we will become on it. Though daunting, the wide open future for mobile technology is exciting, with the potential to continue revolutionizing the way we teach, learn, and live.