Smartphones and tablets are changing how teachers teach and students learn. It's not always a smooth or simple transition.
Two years ago, four instructional designers in the University of California System decided to undertake a research project on “mobile learning.” Their first order of business: figure out what that is.
They eventually settled on a definition from Educause: "Using portable computing devices (such as iPads, laptops, tablet PCs, PDAs and smartphones) with wireless networks enables mobility and mobile variation related to instructional approaches, disciplines, learning goals and technological tools." But they still struggled to define for themselves the parameters of their investigation.
Smartphones and tablets can also be used as platforms for creating projects integral to the learning objectives of a course -- graphic design on an iPad or journalistic interviews on a smartphone recorder.
This new paradigm of teaching and learning also raises plenty of challenges new and old, from developing robust technology infrastructure to supporting skeptical faculty members, ensuring accessibility for all students and keeping up with the increasingly rapid pace of technological advancement.