Old school versus New school: the use of mobile devices in the classroom

When I was in school we weren’t allowed to use calculators. It wasn’t until we took physics and calculus that we were allowed to use them – and that was in high school. Calculators are a prevalent today. Every mobile device has one and grade school kids use them whether they’re supposed to or not. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not calculators should be allowed in the classroom but change seems inevitable as more educators are finding ways to use them constructively as part of the learning process.

Birth of a University Mobile App

One of the first projects I was handed after I started at Norwich University was responsibility for a mobile app. The conversation with my boss at the time went something like this.

“…and we need to work with Admissions on the mobile app.”

“What mobile app?”

“Admissions and the Development office have been talking about a mobile app.”

“How far along on are they?”

“One of the Alumns knows someone…”

“Okay. Goal? Audience? App, website, or responsive design?”

“Umm. Give them a call.”

It quickly became clear none of the homework had been done. I want to be clear these are smart people. They are very good at what they do but they don’t think in the same way that techies do. We think in terms of goals, scopes, outcomes, and timelines. It was an education on both our parts. After a short while, I corralled and worked with Danielle Krizan¬†from the alumni office and together we established some criteria based on what we heard from the Admissions and Alumni offices. Essentially they liked a few of the key features of apps they had seen plus the novelty of reaching potential students and alumni in the mobile space. But they couldn’t articulate a clear goal. So we defined one for them.