Matt Morton: Being able to access the content required for learning at any time shifts the student from a synchronous environment to an asynchronous one. As students move towards this convenience of anytime, anywhere content, faculty will need to adapt their styles to meet the demand. There is still a place for synchronous education. However, as incoming students rely more heavily on asynchronous methods due to time restrictions, it becomes more of a “learn at your own pace”model. With that said though, in my opinion, the time for “knowledge activation” on a particular subject will still take the same amount of time for the individual no matter what method is applied.
Kyle Bowen: The pervasiveness of mobile devices offers new capabilities for changing when and where the moment of learning takes place. For many students, mobile devices and social networks are their native environment—where they live their digital lives. The benefits of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, go well beyond access to digital content in the classroom, laboratory, or field. Mobile devices enable connections between students both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the classroom, they can create a backchannel of discussion between students—adding additional layers of interaction where learning was already happening. This same technology can also enable students to reach out beyond the classroom and the class to find new ideas that can further extend the classroom discussion. This virtual discussion medium also makes it possible to ask stupid questions, comment on taboo topics, or help introverted students find their voice in a larger group.
Mobile technology also enables students and instructors alike to easily create new digital media in the way of video, audio, or still images that can be used for learning and assessment. Rich media is found in nearly every part of our everyday lives. Instructors are weaving media creation into their course assignments—for some students, the first time they create a digital video for someone other than themselves may be for an assignment in their Science, Personal Finance, or American Sign Language class.
Joy Hatch / Richard Seb astian: Thanks to the growing ubiquity of“always-on” broadband connections as well as smartphones and tablets, and an increase in informal and open learning, learners now expect to be able to login to their classes and communicate with their instructors and classmates whenever they want. Institutions of higher education are feeling the pressure to offer more online courses and programs, as well as develop and implement robust mobile learning solutions. The campus is moving away from being the location of learning, to being a place that provides the services that mediate the act of learning.
This is of significant importance to higher education because these new demands from learners suggest a need to retrofit some of the traditional structures of higher education for the digital age: the college semester, the classroom, seat time, and the college degree, to name just a few. Institutions slow to adapt to these changes are going to find their students looking elsewhere for an education.