Think iPhones don't belong in the classroom? Well, think again. Technology in higher education is going mobile, and smartphones are becoming more and more ingrained in daily life for faculty and students alike.
Here at Education Dive, we have already looked at the role of Apple's iPad in schools, as well as some of the major app releases that educations should be paying attention to. We know know Android phones are useful and that some schools are looking at Windows phones. Nevertheless, Apple still has a formidable app store, and colleges and universities are finding some brilliant ways to work the devices into tech initiatives.
Here are 17 examples that show what the iPhone brings to the table:
Using Epson’s iProjection App, instructors at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa are able to project content from iPhones, iPads or iPods through Epson 3LCD PowerLite projectors via a wireless connection. In one scenario, an instructor may send a group of students in an alternative energy course to a wind turbine and have them stream their trip back to the class. For the college’s film classes, the setup has been particularly useful for projecting a Netflix stream.
2. ROOM ACCESS
A 5-month pilot utilizing NFC-enabled iPhone 4/4S cases as access cards for dorms and dining halls received an overwhelmingly positive response from students. The cases, made available through a partnership with CBORD, allowed the students to use their iPhones to do anything they’d normally do with their campus ID card. The cases were a necessity since Apple doesn’t currently build NFC technology into iPhones—something Villanova’s card systems director, Kathy Gallagher, hopes will change in future models.
3. AS MICROSCOPES
Using an iPhone, tape, flashlight and camera lens, doctors in Pemba Island, which is located off the eastern coast of Tanzania, were able to diagnose intestinal worms in around 200 students. It was the first time an improvised iPhone microscope was used in the field to make a diagnosis. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, rigged a similar microscope two years ago using an iPhone, small ball lens and rubber sheet.
4. FOR REPORTING CLASSES
As mobile reporting skills have become a standard in journalism, so to have those skills worked their way into journalism schools. At Leeds Trinity University, all postgraduate broadcast journalism students were given an iPhone 5 when classes began and required to use the smartphones in their reporting of the school’s Journalism Week. Live coverage via Twitter and production of multimedia content were a necessity, and despite the steep learning curve, the instructor and students were all satisfied with the results.
5. FOR CUSTOM CAMPUS APPS
Many universities, like the University of Georgia, are developing their own campus admissions apps. UGA’s campus app is currently on version 3.0 and features an application status check for prospective students, a transfer credit equivalency guide, campus map and campus news, among other things. Stanford University was one of the first to develop such an app, and the students behind it have gone on to produce apps for numerous universities around the country when Blackboard purchased their startup.
6. AS “SUPER-CLICKERS”
At Abilene Christian University, which piloted the first large-scale university iPhone handout in 2008, an in-house app transforms students’ iPhones into “super clickers.” The app solves issues associated with the typical clicker devices used in large lecture courses, as most students aren’t likely to forget to bring their phones and the app allows questions beyond simple multiple choice. The app can even display answers in cloud format, with frequent answers in large font, and can quickly display results on a screen.
7. TO TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO DEVELOP FOR iOS
This entry is probably a bit of a no-brainer. For universities with iOS development programs, Apple offers its iOS Developer University Program for free. Instructors and professors at participating universities, such as Indiana University and the University of Illinois, are able to create a development team with as many as 200 students, and the program puts all the tools they need to develop iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch apps at their fingertips.
8. WITH QR CODES
Several universities are using QR codes, which can be read by iPhones with a special app and typically link to a product website. You may have noticed these blocky jumbles popping up in advertising during the last few years, but codes linking to useful information were worn on t-shirts by orientation staff at Washington and Lee Universities, and Hamilton College used them in high school recruiting posters. The University of Bristol even designed one in the shape of a bridge, which linked to an exclusive section of the school’s website, for outdoor billboards.
9. AS A MOBILE TEXTBOOK DELIVERY SYSTEM
The University of Leeds issued iPhones preloaded with applications containing course texts such as reference materials and prescription guidelines to 500 medical students. All fourth and fifth year medical students at the school receive the iPhones, but are required to return them upon graduation. The effort, which began in 2010, was lauded by the university as a first for medical schools in the U.K.
10. TO TEACH STUDENTS AT FOREIGN CAMPUSES REMOTELY
University of Louisville instructor Ralph Merkel uses the iPhone’s FaceTime app to remotely teach students enrolled in his video communication course at the university’s Panama campus. Though the semester begins via FaceTime, he later joins the students in Panama and completes the course face-to-face. Merkel first used this method last fall, and plans to do so again for fall 2013.
11. TO PROVIDE REAL-TIME FEEDBACK
Developed as part of Purdue University’s Studio Project, the Hotseat app allows students to provide real-time feedback while in the classroom. Professors can then use this feedback to adjust course content and improve students’ learning experience. Students aren’t just confined to using an iPhone or other mobile device to provide the feedback, thought—the app is also available through Facebook, Twitter and its own web application.
12. TO PROVIDE GRADES AND CLASS SCHEDULES IN REAL TIME
Ohio State University’s OSU Mobile app includes many of the features of other campus apps, like maps, emergency alert messaging and a bus locator. What it has in addition to that, however, is the ability to instantly access grades, class schedules and any other BuckID information. The app even has the ability to import a student’s class schedule into their phone’s calendar.
13. TO PROVIDE CAMPUS CRIME DATA
The rise of mobile technology has led to at least one school—the University of California, Davis—removing most, if not all, of its stationary emergency landline phones from campus. After all, cell phones are commonplace now and apps like MyForce Campus Interface have pretty much rendered the campus emergency phones of old obsolete. MyForce allows students and faculty to send campus police an alert with the push of a button, and also notifies the appropriate authorities if the individual is outside of campus law enforcement’s jurisdiction. Plus, it provides crime data for campuses and their surrounding areas.
14. TO HELP STUDENTS NAVIGATE CAMPUS WITH GPS
Remember getting lost searching for classes during your first year on campus? Many campus apps, offered by schools ranging from Oklahoma City Community College to The University of Edinburgh in the U.K., feature GPS on their campus maps to help students easily locate the correct buildings or campus landmarks. It may not be the most cutting edge use of an iPhone on this list, but it’s useful nevertheless.
15. TO PROMOTE THEMSELVES
While iTunes U might be used as a method to disseminate course materials, universities can also use it to promote themselves. Stanford, Yale, Oxford and UC-Berkeley are among the institutions that offer free content—including courses, lectures and books—on public iTunes U sites, making the platform the largest catalog of free education content online. It’s not hard to imagine that part of the idea behind giving away the content is to provide prospective students and lifelong learners with a taste of what the institution has to offer.
16. TO TAKE ATTENDANCE
David M. Reed, a professor at Capital University in Ohio, uses his iPhone to take keep a digital backup of class attendance. After spending two weeks coding a custom app, he had the perfect app for the job and now lists it on iTunes for other professors to use at a cost of $4.99. Since then, 7,500 people have downloaded the app, which now includes a “flashcard” feature to help learn the names of students.
17. TO COLLECT DATA FOR RESEARCH
At the University of California, Davis, Professor Fraser Shilling utilized the iPhone for his roadkill research by asking drivers to help him log any dead animals they saw on the side of the road. To help facilitate the data collection process, his research team created a custom iPhone app that allows users to take a photo of the roadkill with the phone and records the exact coordinates of the carcass with the phone’s GPS. Researchers hope the data will help identify roadkill “hotspots” where warning signs can be placed.
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