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Mobile technologies ?the way of the present? for education delivery

Bond University has become the first university in Australia to introduce the Blackboard Mobile Learn application to students, following in the footsteps of Stanford and Duke Universities in the United States.

The application allows students to access and contribute to information regarding their course online through their mobile device – from checking recent administrative announcements, to reading lecture notes while on the move or participating in online discussions with their peers.

The Blackboard learning management system is currently used by over 5,000 education institutions worldwide including Princeton, Dartmouth and Stanford Universities. The new Blackboard Mobile Learn application will allow students faster and easier access to their course material in more locations using 3G-enabled devices such as an iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and other devices using the Android platform.

Associate Professor of Communication and Media at Bond University, Jeffrey Brand said the application is an important and timely implementation for Bond.

“Mobile technologies are not only the way of the future for education delivery – they are the way of the present,” said Professor Brand.

“We have settled on evolving a blended learning environment that leverages the amenity of our on-campus delivery with the utility of mobile access.

“The Blackboard Mobile Learn application provides us with a chance to engage students in new ways and encourages them to frequent Blackboard – our learning management system – more often and more completely.

“It also presents staff with a useful heads-up on best practice for delivering content to mobile platforms, which we acknowledge will be increasingly requested by students over time.

“Further, it keeps us current with the user-interface expectations and experiences of our students, breaking down barriers that often slow interest in and access to learning experiences.”

He said while technology can be a filter to reduce face-to-face access in mass-education campuses, it needn't be.

“This is exactly the point of our exploration. We are looking at how we can blend technology with our existing personalised approach to teaching and face-to-face mentoring for more seamless and robust learning.”

Professor Brand is currently preparing a study with colleague Dr Shelley Kinash to commence in January 2011 to establish whether mobile learning in fact improves learning opportunities and outcomes, or whether it just moves the way content is delivered. The study will be partly funded by Bond University’s Office of Quality, Teaching and Learning.

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