Mobile Campuses: Doubts and Decisions

“Mobile [learning-management] apps are an important part of our campus plan to enhance instructional resources and campus services.” New data from the Educause Center for Applied Research, released here on Wednesday, showed that among the nearly 37,000 two- and four-year college students surveyed, more than 60 percent own Internet-enabled mobile devices, and another 11 percent plan to buy one in the next year. The proportion of the total sample that actually use their devices to browse the Internet (49 percent) and the percentage of that subset that do so daily (55 percent) are both up from last year.

But if mobile is indeed on the move, there are still professors trying to barricade it from their classrooms. At a session ostensibly about mobile security, called “Mobile Computing: Safe or Sorry,” a good chunk of the discussion revolved around how to answer professors who ask I.T. officials if they could please install a switch allowing the professors to shut off students’ access to the Internet during class — a task made even more difficult now that students can access the Web from their mobile devices.

The alternative, of course, is to try to harness the click around habits of modern college students, rather than to suppress it. An iPad, a Blackberry, an Android, and an iPhone are each displaying a demo of what is promised to be the future hub of campus life.

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