In increasing numbers, students and educators alike are embracing tablets and eBook readers in both their personal and professional lives1. However, is the increasing role of mobile browsing in education a good thing? Are instructors able to use it to maximize the classroom experience for their students? Are students able to be more productive with these devices?
While there a few important considerations including cost, security, and the need for a robust wireless infrastructure and a strong professional development program2, most higher education institutions believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. The expanding role of mobile browsing in education presents the following advantages:
- Wealth of educational resources. As mobile use becomes more prevalent, educational publishers are moving toward more and more digital content. Typically, it is more cost effective for school districts and educational institutions such as dental schools to purchase digital content instead of textbooks. The initial investment is more modest, and publishers can provide edition upgrades for a fraction of the cost of new textbooks. Publishers are offering everything from electronic textbooks to online videos to multimedia-rich applications.3
- Collaboration and interaction opportunities. Professors, including those in dental school, can connect their mobile devices directly to projector screens, allowing them to share lecture presentations, video, website content, and additional media (i.e., clinical photos, diagrams) seamlessly during classroom instruction. They can also administer exams and conduct instant polling and then use the results to customize instruction to more readily respond to students’ learning needs. In turn, students can use mobile devices to access resources via electronic textbooks and take notes using a variety of tools and apps.
- Mobile devices provide quick, direct access. Tablets and eBook readers—smartphones too—seldom provide the robust computing power that laptops do. However, many credible sources, such as THE NEXTDDS, have already embraced mobile technology; providing access to a wide range of credible, scientifically sound information comparable to what is available on a desktop computer, complete with all the advantages of mobile browsing. As mobile technology processing speeds, wifi, and data transfer rates continue to improve each year4, mobile sites and apps will continue to become more responsive, fast, and accessible to ultimately match up with the level of convenience that they already offer.
- Visual element of touchscreen devices. Touchscreens enable dental students and faculty to use their fingers to manipulate images and applications. As opposed to simple viewing of two-dimensional images, users can interact with three-dimensional images, such as moving them and zooming in on them. Not only do students stay engaged but they're able to visualize, comprehend, and retain complex abstract concepts in a way that would not be possible otherwise.5
- Time-saving tools. There is a growing variety of applications that students can use to maximize their work time for both individual and group projects. We have had several students tell us that looking up drug effects and drug interactions was one of the most time consuming and difficult aspect of clinics. With mobile technology, and new dental and medical apps, this hassle is all but completely eliminated.6
- Efficiency. Electronic textbooks and additional digital classroom content saves students money as well as bulk. Instead of purchasing and hauling heavy textbooks, students can keep the majority of their classroom resources on their mobile devices. As is the case with many mobile sites, eTextbooks, and apps, students visiting THE NEXTDDS on their mobile device are afforded a convenient “Search” feature to easily find any piece of content they may need at the click of a button. This feature saves the time and tedium associated with flipping through pages in a book, searching for the exact paragraph one needs.
So, how are you using mobile devices in your education? We’d love to hear from you.