I recently visited Abilene Christian University for the ACU Connected Open House. This was a chanced to see what ACU has done with their iPhone initiative and see some of the solutions they have created to take advantage of these new tools for education.
One area the school is focusing on is collaboration, not just for students, but for faculy also.
This is a collaborative space designed specifically for faculty. One of the great things about this space is the custom designed desk which houses outlets to charge devices and adapters that connect to the monitor. All the connections and power are stored under the little grassy area in the center of the table and run down through the table’s legs.
For students and faculty, they have created wonderful work areas using Steelcase media:scape desks. These desks allow a team to share information quickly and seamlessly. Up to four users can plug in their devices, be it a laptop, tablet, or even iPhone, into the media:scape Puck™ on the desk, which then routes their display to the LCD moitor. Anyone can take over the monitor by touching the display icon on their Puck™. No hooking or unhooking cables. “Let me show you what I’ve done” can quickly lead in to more useful collaboration.
think. make. learn.
For a good old-fashioned get together, ACU has created booths that students can use to meet and study together. If more privacy is required, large whiteboards on casters are available as portable screens. By wheeling one down to the edge of the booth, the students can shut out distractions and create more work space by using the boards.
As ACU looks to the future, they definitely see collaboration as part of their roadmap.
One thing that might have been overlooked with all the excitement of yesterday’s New iPad was Apple’s release of the Apple Configurator.
The Apple Configurator will allow IT support staff (or just about anyone with multiple devices) to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and even an iPod touch in a school, business, or institution. The only downside is it requires Mac OS X 10.7.2 or later. As many institutions have still to make the leap to Lion, this might be an issue.
A charter school teacher warned her third graders that a standardized test question was “tricky,” and they all changed their answers. A high school coach in Brooklyn called a student into the hallway and slipped her a completed answer sheet in a newspaper. In the Bronx, a principal convened Finish Your Lab Days, where biology students ended up copying answers for work they never did.
Pearson just announce they will be offering a completely free easy-to-use Learning Management System called OpenClass. According to the press release “OpenClass is a new kind of learning management system (LMS) delivered from the Cloud. It is easy to use and completely free. There are no hardware, licensing or hosting costs, thus enabling widespread adoption of new learning approaches that encourage interaction within the classroom and around the world.”
By harnessing the power of Google Apps for Education and providing the “support and feeding” they are able to offer the system completely free. When comparing it to other OpenSource software, Matt Leavy, CEO of Pearson eCollege, commented in an interview with APM, “It’s not a free beer, it’s a free puppy. You take it home you still have support cost for the puppy.” What makes OpenClass different, Leavy stated, “It is truly free. It is free. There are no hosting charges. There are no licensing charges.”
“OpenClass has huge potential for higher education,” said Adrian Sannier, Senior Vice President of Learning Technologies at Pearson. “OpenClass accelerates what technology will do for learning with a free, open and innovative platform that easily scales and lets students work via social media, with an intense focus on learning that elevates achievement.”
Pearson created this video introduction to OpenClass:
Lately, for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix have been subject to scrutiny and new regulations for allegedly deceptive recruiting tactics and the high number of federal loan defaults among their students. Host Audie Cornish talks to Christopher Beha, who discreetly enrolled as a student at the University of Phoenix, and wrote about it in a piece in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine.
This semester, in conjunction with the Central University Libraries (CUL), the Office of Information Technology (OIT) at SMU is soft launching the new Touch Learning Center or TLC. The Touch Learning Center provides space for faculty and students to test apps and to experiment with the touch environment. The TLC is:
A laboratory to explore the uses of touch computing in the classroom and to produce and/or present multimedia projects, for example, staff training videos, conference presentations, etc.
A classroom for faculty to teach classes using the TLC’s technology and to allow users to learn about touch computing devices.
A place for student, faculty and staff interaction within the touch environment
The TLC aims to educate students, staff, and faculty about and to familiarize them with the emerging mobile world using short courses and individual consultation. As the mobile world changes and as the needs of our users change, the TLC will change with them. Currently, the facility is equipped with 15 iPad 2 units, a 70″ LED display, a specialized iPad charging and syncing cart with a 13″ Macbook Pro to manage iPads simultaneously, and an Apple TV which will allow wireless connectivity from an iPad to the TV in the near future.
If you are interested in reserving the space or want to know more, please contact the TLC Manager, Tyeson Seale at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-768-4584.
Over this summer Academic Technology, the Faculty Media Lab, and the SMU STAR Program will be moving to our new location in Fondren Library East. Not only will we be in a more visible location in the Information Commons, but will will be sharing space and resources with the Student Multimedia Center and the new Mobile Learning Lab.
Great things are happening. Check back soon for further news.