Mobile Learning Initiative

In an Art Foundations class, the room is buzzing with students who are attaching paper to their iPad touch screens, tracing the lines of architectural photos they recently captured. They can then extend the drawing beyond the screen, expanding their understanding of linear perspective.

In biology, students are creating stop-frame videos to demonstrate the process of cell division, while over in English class, students are participating in peer-review groups, using an online tool to collaborate and make notes paper-free as they learn about the writing and editing process.

From linear algebra to Biblical Hebrew, classes across the Anderson University campus are finding innovative ways to use iPads and apps to expand student learning while making the material more engaging than any static textbook or basic lecture. The Mobile Learning Initiative, founded in 2011, has placed AU squarely at the forefront of high-tech teaching, creating distinctive learning environments that have earned rave reviews from students and professors alike. Even Apple representatives, who visited AU to assist with the distribution of iPads and find out more about the initiative, were impressed with the innovations incorporated into classes.

What is the Mobile Learning Initiative?

The Mobile Learning Initiative is AU's incorporation of iPads and mobile applications to enhance teaching and learning at the university. Through the initiative, all full-time traditional students receive an iPad that is theirs to keep. The real focus, however, is not just adding technology but creating a shift in the way professors teach and students learn. By redesigning courses to maximize the use of mobile technology, students become more engaged, learning becomes more experiential, concepts become more clear and students leave the class better prepared.

Anderson University is a pioneer in mobile learning and was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as an up-and-coming university and one with "an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching." The Mobile Learning Initiative is a forward-thinking means of enhancing coursework and giving students tools that allow them to demonstrate their mastery of the material.

AU research data found that when technology is incorporated, more students are better able to grasp challenging concepts. For example, pre-testing and post-testing in biology showed that using stop-animation video to learn about the cell division processes mitosis and meiosis led to huge gains in student understanding of those ideas. The key benefit, according to professors, is that students in the updated classes are more engaged and more excited about learning.

Center of Excellence for Mobile Learning

Thanks to AU's place at the forefront of mobile technology, we received a multi-year grant totaling $600,000 to help K-12 schools integrate mobile devices into their classrooms. Because of the grant from the State of South Carolina, our campus is home to the Center of Excellence for Mobile Learning, tasked with duplicating the success of our groundbreaking Mobile Learning Initiative but targeting elementary, middle, and high school students.

The Center is currently partnering with George Washington Carver Middle School in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and more than half of its faculty has worked with our staff to revamp teaching strategies and instructional design.

How does the program work?

The Mobile Learning Fellows program was created to assist professors who are interested in exploring mobile learning and redesigning their courses to maximize technology. The program offers stipends that cover hardware, software and other redesign costs, and also works with professors to create lesson plans and evaluate strategies.

The program has worked with more a dozen professors to revamp more than 20 classes, with many teachers applying the tools and ideas they learn to other classes as well, bringing the number of classes influenced by the program to more than 40.

How do courses incorporate mobile learning?

Each year, more AU classes incorporate mobile learning, and material is continually updated to ensure student gains. Several professors record lecture material for students to view outside of class, allowing more time to implement that information through interactive projects during class time. Other students collaborate to create wikis, blogs, apps and podcasts, or take private, online music classes via FaceTime or Skype. Modeling software, embedded video and 3D animation are a few ways our professors take student learning to the next level.

Professors also appreciate the immediate feedback iPads can provide, using polls prior to exams to find out in an instant if the majority of students understand key content.

Courses transformed by the Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI) include:

  • Art Foundations: After being redesigned in the MLI's inaugural year, Art Foundations I and II began using socially networked e-texts that allow students to highlight and annotate content, look up definitions with a touch, automatically generate flash cards and organize notes for simplified studying.
  • Video demonstrations allow students to review art techniques as needed while working in the studio, and digital sketchbooks let art professors illustrate concepts on their iPads - information students can view on a large screen or keep on their own iPads.
  • An Art Foundations assignment in which students used the tablets to photograph, analyze and recreate images though traditional perspective drawing is featured in an art foundations textbook called 70 Assignments: The Future of the Foundation Course in Art and Design. The book, published by the Paris College of Art Press in France, will be distributed internationally.
  • Theatre: This department found a creative way to incorporate mobile learning into a project for freshmen through seniors. During a unique staging of Mother Courage, eight projection screens were set up in the theater, with four screens displaying images that supplement the performance and four displaying a live Twitter feed incorporating thoughts and feedback from the audience.
  • Calculus and Analytical Geometry: Math students learn lecture content through YouTube and other websites so they are familiar with concepts before they arrive in class. Then students can work together in class using scientific calculator tools that were previously cost-prohibitive but are affordable in app form.
  • English 101 and 102: In the largest general education course on campus, a three-teacher team is rethinking how to improve writing, allowing students to participate in a peer review process. A web-based tool, Markup, allows students to collaborate, assess and review each other's work. Students and professors share assignments via e-mail, open documents in the Markup app and can make changes, suggestions or notes without printing; it's a quick and simple way to learn the importance of editing and that different perspectives can make writing stronger.
  • Media Lab: The student newspaper is returning to the Anderson University campus in modern format that mirrors today's media, creating an online presence rather than a printed product. The site, which accepts submissions from students campus-wide, is accessed and managed through mobile devices, and students are using an app called Videolicious to add video news stories.

AU courses redesigned through the Mobile Learning Initiative include:

  • Introduction to Bible
  • Chemistry in Context
  • Principles of Biology 1 and 2
  • Art Foundations 1 and 2
  • English 101 and 102
  • Organic Chemistry 1 and 2
  • Cellular Biology
  • Christian Worldview and Contemporary Application
  • Lifetime Wellness
  • Pathophysiology
  • Methods and Materials for Teaching Science
  • Theatrical Performance and Practicum
  • Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 (Labs)
  • Introduction to Biblical Hebrew
  • Calculus and Analytical Geometry
  • Essentials of Economics
  • Linear Algebra
  • Genetics
  • Media Lab
  • Introduction to Teaching Students with Exceptionalities
  • Intro to Sociology
  • Methods and Materials for Teaching Reading

The Mobile Learning Initiative is led by AU's associate provost for educational innovation and consists of a joint team of AU faculty and staff members.