Higher education has always been valued in the United States, even in today\’s world, where some argue increased tuition costs and shrinking financial returns are tarnishing the worth of a degree. Even so, enrollment in recognized institutions grew by 37 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 15.3 million students to 21 million.
While student enrollment at colleges and universities has increased across the country, so has the amount of mobile users. With more than 45 percent of American adults owning a smartphone and 31 percent having a tablet, the informational landscape is changing continuously, and institutions are adjusting to the times. Today, students are learning and earning their degrees outside of the classroom – online.
How online education is offered and delivered to students will continue to advance, much like mobile technology itself. In many ways, these advancements will depend on the innovations that tech companies will introduce to consumers in the future. With that said, here are three ways mobile usage will influence online course design and delivery.
Mobile Apps Change How Students Attend Class
Online access to coursework and all related materials through a mobile application is changing how students attend class. No matter what course, students can connect to their classroom by using their smartphones and tablets. The convenience of this accessibility has attracted many out-of-state students who want to attend a specific institution that caters to their chosen curricula.
Advances in mobile technology have also made communicating via the Internet easier for instructors and students alike. Not only have online course portals experienced significant upgrades, but many third-party apps have also had an impact in distance learning. As a result, learning has become more engaging and the online platform more enhanced for all users.
eBooks Lower Student Costs
The cost of printed textbooks at campus bookstores around the country has propelled students to look for cheaper alternatives. Although there are many online outlets offering used books for a lower cost – and rentals, too – many students have opted for the digital versions.
A Pew Research Center study done in December 2012 shows the growing popularity of eBooks, with the number of people age 16 and older who read an eBook increasing from 16 percent to 23 percent. This is especially prevalent in online education.
eBook versions of printed textbooks are identical, offering interactive and share-able annotation capabilities. Students can also highlight e-text, organize notes, and link to or share articles with instructors or classmates. The many features offered and the low price of these course materials will continue to influence how much attention institutions give to publishing and distributing them.
The Cloud Becomes the Central Hub for Collaboration
The cloud is a new concept to education, but the two are merging to offer flexibility for instructors and students, who want to create, save, share, and collaborate from any location at any time. As institutions embrace cloud computing and implement it into their online learning environment, more students are utilizing their smartphones and tablets to access it.
IT professionals who work with institutions today must meet increasing demands from faculty and students. Cloud education has become an option institutions have adopted because of the security, reliability, and cost-effectiveness it provides. Other benefits of the cloud include interactive multimedia learning environments, faster delivery of administrative services, simplified operation procedures, and reduced risk and heightened security.
The number of mobile users will continue to increase, as will the amount of students who enroll in online schools. To progress with the times, institutions will continue to monitor the latest that technology has to offer and implement it to provide instructors and students the best learning environment possible. Although mobile apps, eBooks, and cloud education are some of the most recent ways mobile usage is influencing online course design and delivery, more innovations are undoubtedly on the horizon, helping advance online education into the future.
Are you an online instructor or student? How has mobile technology impacted your educational experience? What would you recommend institutions do to improve the design and delivery of online course content?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.