Spring 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute Featured Tips for Energizing the College Classroom

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Sarah Cavanagh
Sarah Cavanagh, Assumption College

Energy was high for the NIU faculty and staff who participated in the Spring 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute, The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotions. The event featured Sarah Cavanagh from the Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Science at Assumption College, and author of the recent book The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion. Dr. Cavanagh explained her research in Cognitive Psychology as well as connections between emotions and learning. She also explained techniques for stimulating curiosity, strategies for low-stakes assessments, and methods for incorporating choice of assignments in the syllabus. Sarah guided participants through a variety of engaged learning activities that provided opportunities to apply Cognitive Psychology concepts to teaching and learning in the college classroom. Workshop participants actively engaged throughout the day-long event while carefully considering the impact of emotions on the teaching and learning processes.

NIU faculty and instructors from 23 colleges and departments across campus attended the engaging, day-long event. Participants were excited to learn techniques that could be applied immediately in their courses.

Plans are underway for the Fall 2017 Teaching Effectiveness Institute scheduled for Friday, August 18th. The event will feature David Matthes of the University of Minnesota and will focus on team-based learning.

To share ideas for new Institute topics or if you would be interested in presenting at one of our Institutes, please contact Yvonne Johnson, Multimodal Teaching Coordinator at yjohnson@niu.edu, 815-753-2690 or Janet Giesen, Instructional Design Coordinator at giesen@niu.edu, 815-753-1085. We look forward to hearing from you!

Service Learning in Higher Education

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pre service reflection, reflection during service, post service reflectionService learning is an engaging teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful, real-world community service with instructional goals and objectives. The service experience involves students in essential reflection activities that enrich the mutually beneficial outcomes of students and the community.

Falling under the umbrella term Experiential Learning, service learning joins other student-centered learning strategies such as problem- and project-based learning, active learning, and place-based learning (Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010, p. 7). Service learning can be further subdivided into direct, indirect, research, and advocacy service learning, each of which involve students in a variety of engaging and meaningful learning experiences (excerpted from Colorado State University, 2015; GenerationOn, n.d.; University of Minnesota, 2011).

Types of Service Learning

Direct Service is volunteer-focused where students are placed in direct contact with people who benefit from a specific service such as:

  • Counseling incoming or new students
  • Reading to small children in intergenerational projects
  • Helping local citizens fill out their annual tax returns
  • Serving food at a local food pantry or soup kitchen

Indirect Service is program- or issue-focused in which students engage in a service by providing goods or a product to a needy cause such as:

  • Collecting and distributing food items or clothing
  • Engaging in neighborhood beautification projects or local conservation efforts
  • Planting a community garden
  • Building low-income housing

Advocacy/Civic Engagement is policy-focused during which students address the cause of and are often personally committed to a social issue such as:

  • Establishing a voter registration campaign among students and the community
  • Distributing literature about a neighborhood watch program throughout specifically affected neighborhoods
  • Speaking on behalf of underrepresented segments of the community
  • Lobbying for more trash cans to minimize littering on campus

Research Service involves students collecting and reporting information for public welfare or interest such as:

  • Working in a laboratory that meets a community need
  • Testing water or soil quality
  • Conducting research to protect local wetlands
  • Developing or re-purposing products from recycled materials

Characteristics of Service Learning

All of the types of service learning share some common characteristics:

  • The service must be connected with course learning goals and objectives
  • The service must meet a genuine community need
  • The service will establish a reciprocal relationship among all constituents
  • The service includes time for students to reflect throughout the experience
    (Bethel University, n.d.)

Reflecting on Service Learning

Reflection is a key component of service learning and gives students an informal structure to connect the experience to the learning goals and objectives. The figure at the beginning of this article illustrates how this reflection can lead to successful learning experiences through:

  • Pre-service reflection, where students examine what they know and think about issues raised by the project.
  • Reflection during service (this is the “What?” phase), in which students identify where they are in the process and share their concerns and feelings.
  • Post-service reflection (this is the “So what” phase), during which students consider the significance of the service (their experience in it, how they can integrate their new understanding in the situation and course work, and offer further action).
  • “Now what?” phase, when students ask what they should do next and whether it is time to decide how best to proceed – considering the future impact of the experience on the community and themselves.

Getting Started

Getting started with service learning involves a number of steps for it to be meaningful for students, community partners, and instructors. First, connect the service and course goals and objectives; second, explain the relevance of the service to both the students and service constituents; third, incorporate the principles of service learning in your teaching through meaningful engagement, reflection, reciprocity (where everyone is a colleague); four, allow for public dissemination of the experience; and finally, each student, community partner, and instructor must have the opportunity to provide their assessment of the experience. Analyzing and assessing the service learning experience will help all constituents realize the effects of the experience and pinpoint areas of the course to make improvements for future experiences.

Service Learning in Action

Service-learning is often combined with interdisciplinary learning, where different colleges, departments, and curricula share service learning objectives (National Service Learning Clearinghouse, 2011). These cross-disciplinary opportunities are ripe for learning how to collaborate, problem solve, and reflect with peers, faculty, and the community. Where students, faculty, and community members often function in separate domains, service-learning experience brings all stakeholders together to share goals and decisions which benefit both the campus and community.

Service Learning in Online Courses

Service learning opportunities need not be restricted to face-to-face courses. Strait and Sauer (2004) highlight an “e-service” model at Bemidji State University that engages teacher education students in service opportunities that take place in their local communities. They also report on the lessons learned, challenges, and suggestions for those who are interested in incorporating e-service in their courses. Visit the Center for Digital Civic Engagement for articles and resources about ways to integrate online teaching and service learning opportunities.

Service Learning at Northern Illinois University

Visit the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning for more information on service learning opportunities at NIU and how to get started implementing service learning in your own courses. The Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Development is a great resource for identifying service learning opportunities for students. Also, both the College of Business and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offer unique experiential learning programs for their students.

Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning

Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Development

College of Business

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Service Learning Resources

The National Service Learning Clearinghouse

Campus Compact


Service learning can have a profound impact on students, faculty, and the community. Students are able to combine classroom knowledge with real-world issues as they work with community members to bring about realistic and effective solutions and faculty from different disciplines learn from one another and gain valuable insight for future collaboration. The partnership that emerges from service learning activities helps the community to see solutions and ways that can further their cause.


Bethel University Off-Campus Programs: Service Learning (n.d.). What is service learning? Retrieved from http://cas.bethel.edu/off-campus-programs/service-learning/

Colorado State University (2015). Types of service learning activities. Retrieved from http://tilt.colostate.edu/service/about/typesOfSL.cfm

GenerationOn (n.d.). Taking action: Four types of service. Retrieved from http://www.generationon.org//files/flat-page/files/taking_action_-_four_types_of_service_0.pdf

Strait, J., & Sauer, T. (2004). Constructing experiential learning for online courses: The birth of e-service. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2004/1/constructing-experiential-learning-for-online-courses-the-birth-of-eservice

University of Minnesota Center for Community-Engaged Learning (2011). Direct, indirect, research, and advocacy engagement. Retrieved from http://www.servicelearning.umn.edu/cesp/programdetails/engagement_types.html

Wurdinger, D. D., & Carlson, J. A. (2010). Teaching for experiential learning: Five approaches that work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education. [Available at Founders Memorial Library]

Increase the Fun in Your Courses with Digital Badges

Intro to Badges
A common concern in university courses is student motivation and engagement. There are many approaches to overcoming these issues, including Problem-Based Learning, Experiential Learning, and Service Learning. Game-Based Learning is also gaining popularity. Game-Based Learning incorporates elements of game design like mastering content or skills, overcoming challenges, earning points, and competing with others, into the learning process. Games are exciting, interesting, and motivating in ways that many courses are not.

Badges Defined

Digital badges, which are similar to Boy or Girl Scout merit badges, are a new way to add game-like elements to your course. Essentially, badges are digital artifacts that recognize an individual for learning or mastering a new skill. This could be the result of a formal learning experience, such as taking a university course, or something more informal, such as taking a community education course or belonging to a club, group, or other organization.

Depending on their implementation, badges can serve one or more of five social psychological functions (Antin & Churchill, 2011): goal setting, instruction, reputation, status/affirmation, and group identification. By defining goals for students, badges can motivate students to achieve the goal. Badges also provide instruction about the types of activities and social norms expected, particularly for students new to a field or system. Badges visually convey a student’s reputation within the system and provide information about their skills and expertise. Because badges also serve as a reminder of achievement, they also serve as a personal affirmation of past success, like a trophy on display. Finally, when badges reward a set of shared activities, badge ownership indicates group membership and can create a sense of solidarity among members.


Merit Badges
Photo courtesy Girl Guides of Canada

Many social websites have made use of badges, including Foursquare, Codecademy, and Khan Academy, to motivate users and increase use of the site. Some MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) use badges for recognition and achievement. In many cases, like the social websites, the badges are contained within the system and can only be viewed or shared internally. However, many systems are adopting the Mozilla Open Badges framework that puts the student in control of the badges. The open framework allows the learner to decide which badges to display and how they want to share them. In this way, badges can supplement a traditional resume or portfolio.

Course Implementation

The first step to implementing badges in a course is to define outcomes, goals, or skills that are significant. Many badge systems reward incremental progress rather than only completion, so it is possible to break large goals into smaller milestones. Based on the five social psychological functions, consider including badges that are not tied to mastering specific knowledge or skills. For instance, students could earn a badge for getting started, like submitting a first assignment or demonstrating knowledge of the syllabus and course structure. Badges could also be effective for encouraging and rewarding contributing to the course community, like taking the lead in a group project or being active on a course discussion board or blog.

Once the outcomes have been identified, create the images for the badges. Generally, badges have to be a .png image file. The image files are usually square and range from 150×150 pixels to 260×260 pixels (the final size will depend on the system used to deploy the badges). Be creative with the badge design. Most badge graphics are round, but other shapes, like shields, stars, and award ribbons are common as well. The image can include shapes, icons, photos, and text. Any graphics editing program can be used to create badges, like Adobe Photoshop, Inkscape, or pixlr. It is even possible to build the image on a PowerPoint slide, then save as an image (by right-clicking).

Finally, decide how to deploy and distribute the badges. One of the easiest systems to use is badg.us. It is a free service that establishes a redemption code for each badge. Students redeem the code to claim the badge. Purdue University is developing Passport, a learning system that demonstrates academic achievement through customizable badges. At the time of this writing, Passport is in beta but looks promising. It includes a badge-builder to create the graphic as well as student tracking to determine who has earned the badge.

In January, 2012, the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center offered its first badge for participating in the Teaching Effectiveness Institute on Teaching in the Digital Classroom. The response was very positive.

badge for intro to badges
Intro to Badges

Non-traditional credentialing, through MOOCs and other means, is gaining popularity. The digital badge movement is part of the overall trend towards more granular and less formal methods of demonstrating competency. It is easy to get started with awarding badges for courses or organizations, and it may even add some fun to the experience!

Note: You have earned your first badge by reading this article! Click here to redeem your badge: http://badg.us/en-US/badges/claim/rw7kwa. (You will need to create a free badg.us account to accept the badge.)

Suggested Readings

Educause. (June 11, 2012). 7 Things you should know about badges. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/7-things-you-should-know-about-badges

Hickey, D. (October 30, 2012). Introducing digital badges within and around universities. Retrieved from http://remediatingassessment.blogspot.com/2012/10/introducing-digital-badges-within-and.html

Mozilla. (2012). What are open badges? Retrieved from http://openbadges.org/en-US/

Young, J. (October 14, 2012). Grades out, badges in. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/What-If-We-Got-Rid-of-Grades-/135056/


Antin, J., & Churchill, E. (2011). Badges in social media: A social psychological perspective. Paper presented at the CHI 2011, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Retrieved from http://research.yahoo.com/pub/3469

Experiential Learning

posted in: News, Newsletter, Teaching | 0

Experiential Learning“Experiential [learning] is a philosophy and methodology in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, and clarify values” (Association for Experiential Education, 2011, para. 2).

Experiential learning is also referred to as learning through action, learning by doing, learning through experience, and learning through discovery and exploration, all which are clearly defined by these well-known maxims:

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
~ Confucius, 450 BC

Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I remember, Involve me and I will learn.
~ Benjamin Franklin, 1750

There is an intimate and necessary relation between the process of actual experience and education.
~ John Dewey, 1938

In their book, Teaching for Experiential Learning, Wurdinger and Carlson (2010) found that most college faculty teach by lecturing because few of them learned how to teach otherwise. Although good lecturing should be part of an educator’s teaching repertoire, faculty should also actively involve their students “in the learning process through discussion, group work, hands-on participation, and applying information outside the classroom” (p. 2). This process defines experiential learning where students are involved in learning content in which they have a personal interest, need, or want.

Learning through experience is not a new concept for the college classroom. Notable educational psychologists such as John Dewey (1859-1952), Carl Rogers (1902-1987), and David Kolb (b. 1939) have provided the groundwork of learning theories that focus on “learning through experience or “learning by doing.” Dewey popularized the concept of Experiential Education which focuses on problem solving and critical thinking rather than memorization and rote learning. Rogers considered experiential learning “significant” as compared to what he called “meaningless” cognitive learning. Kolb also noted that concrete learning experiences are critical to meaningful learning and is well known for his Learning Style Inventory (LSI) which is widely used in many disciplines today to help identify preferred ways of learning. A key element of experiential learning, therefore, is the student, and that learning takes place (the knowledge gained) as a result of being personally involved in this pedagogical approach.

The Experiential Learning Process

Experiential learning involves a number of steps that offer students a hands-on, collaborative and reflective learning experience which helps them to “fully learn new skills and knowledge” (Haynes, 2007). Although learning content is important, learning from the process is at the heart of experiential learning. During each step of the experience, students will engage with the content, the instructor, each other as well as self–reflect and apply what they have learned in another situation.

The following describes the steps that comprise experiential learning as noted by (Haynes, 2007, para. 6 and UC Davis, 2011):

Experiencing/Exploring “Doing”
Students will perform or do a hands-on, minds-on experience with little or no help from the instructor. Examples might include: Making products or models, role-playing, giving a presentation, problem-solving, playing a game. A key facet of experiential learning is what the student learns from the experience rather than the quantity or quality of the experience.

Sharing/Reflecting “What Happened?”
Students will share the results, reactions and observations with their peers. Students will also get other peers to talk about their own experience, share their reactions and observations and discuss feelings generated by the experience. The sharing equates to reflecting on what they discovered and relating it to past experiences which can be used for future use.

Processing/Analyzing “What’s Important?”
Students will discuss, analyze and reflect upon the experience. Describing and analyzing their experiences allow students to relate them to future learning experiences. Students will also discuss how the experience was carried out, how themes, problems and issues emerged as a result of the experience. Students will discuss how specific problems or issues were addressed and identify recurring themes.

Generalizing “So What?”
Students will connect the experience with real world examples, find trends or common truths in the experience, and identify “real life” principles that emerged.

Application “Now What?”
Students will apply what they learned in the experience (and what they learned from past experiences and practice) to a similar or different situation. Also, students will discuss how the newly learned process can be applied to other situations. Students will discuss how issues raised can be useful in future situations and how more effective behaviors can develop from what they learned. The instructor should help each student feel a sense of ownership for what was learned.

Instructor Roles in Experiential Learning

In experiential learning, the instructor guides rather than directs the learning process where students are naturally interested in learning. The instructor assumes the role of facilitator and is guided by a number of steps crucial to experiential learning as noted by (Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010, p. 13):

  1. Be willing to accept a less teacher-centric role in the classroom.
  2. Approach the learning experience in a positive, non-dominating way.
  3. Identify an experience in which students will find interest and be personally committed.
  4. Explain the purpose of the experiential learning situation to the students.
  5. Share your feelings and thoughts with your students and let them know that you are learning from the experience too.
  6. Tie the course learning objectives to course activities and direct experiences so students know what they are supposed to do.
  7. Provide relevant and meaningful resources to help students succeed.
  8. Allow students to experiment and discover solutions on their own.
  9. Find a sense of balance between the academic and nurturing aspects of teaching.
  10. Clarify students’ and instructor roles.

Student Roles in Experiential Learning

Qualities of experiential learning are those in which learners decide themselves to be personally involved in the learning experience (students are actively participating in their own learning and have a personal role in the direction of learning). Students are not completely left to teach themselves; however, the instructor assumes the role of guide and facilitates the learning process. The following list of student roles has been adapted from (UC-Davis, 2011 and Wurdinger & Carlson, 2010):

  1. Students will be involved in problems which are practical, social and personal.
  2. Students will be allowed freedom in the classroom as long as they make headway in the learning process.
  3. Students will often be involved with difficult and challenging situations while discovering.
  4. Students will self-evaluate their own progress or success in the learning process which becomes the primary means of assessment.
  5. Students will learn from the learning process and become open to change. This change includes less reliance on the instructor and more on fellow peers, the development of skills to investigate (research) and learn from an authentic experience, and the ability to objectively self-evaluate one’s performance.

Integrating Experiential Learning (EL) in Teaching

As previously noted, a primary role for instructors is to identify a situation which challenges students through problem-solving, cooperation, collaboration, self-discovery and self-reflection. At the same time, decide what the students should learn or gain from the learning experience. Below are some primary points to consider when integrating experiential learning in your own teaching:

Plan. Once the EL experience has been decided upon, plan the experience by tying it to the course learning objectives and determine what students will need to complete successfully the exercise (resources such as readings and worksheets, research, rubrics, supplies and directions to off-campus locations, etc.). Also, determine the logistics: how much time will be allotted for the students to complete the experience (a complete class session, one week or more)? Will students need to gain the experience outside of class? How will the experience end? What forms of assessment will you employ? Will you use ongoing assessments such as observations and journals (called formative assessment), end of the experience assessments such as written reports and projects (called summative assessment), self and/or peer assessments, or a combination of all three?

Prepare. After the planning has been completed, prepare materials, rubrics, and assessment tools and ensure that everything is ready before the experience begins.

Facilitate. As with most instructional strategies, the instructor should commence the experience. Once begun, you should refrain from providing students with all of the content and information and complete answers to their questions. Instead, guide students through the process of finding and determining solutions for themselves.

Evaluate. Success of an experiential learning activity can be determined during discussions, reflections and a debriefing session. Debriefing, as a culminating experience, helps reinforce and extend the learning process. In addition, make use of the assessment strategies previously planned.


Experiential learning experiences help to complete students’ preparation for their chosen careers which reinforce course content and theory. Students learn through student- rather than instructor-centered experiences by doing, discovering, reflecting and applying. Through these experiences students develop communication skills and self confidence and gain and strengthen decision-making skills by responding to and solving real world problems and processes.

Would you like to learn more about ways you can integrate experiential learning
in your own teaching? Attending the following program:

Creating Transformative Education Through Experiential Learning

by Patrick M. Green, Ed.D., Loyola University Chicago on Thursday, January 12, 2012
Sponsored by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

More information and how to register for this program will become available at http://www.niu.edu/facdev in November 2011


Association for Experiential Education (2011). What is experiential learning? Retrieved from

Haynes, C. (2007). Experiential learning: Learning by doing. Retrieved from http://adulteducation.wikibook.us/index.php?title=Experiential_Learning_-_Learning_by_Doing

University of California Davis (UC Davis). (2011). 5-step experiential learning cycle definitions. Retrieved from http://www.experientiallearning.ucdavis.edu/module1/el1_40-5step-definitions.pdf

Wurdinger, S. D., & Carlson, J. A. (2010). Teaching for experiential learning: Five approaches that work. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Experiential Learning (EL) Resources

Association for Experiential Education

Cornell University Experiential Learning Report web site – Selected examples of EL programs http://cals.cornell.edu/teaching/elr/report.cfm

Experiential Learning Center, Northern Illinois University, College of Business

International Consortium for Experiential Learning

Journal of Experiential Education

National Society for Experiential Education

Neill, J. (2010). Experiential learning cycles: Overview of 9 experiential learning cycle models. http://www.wilderdom.com/experiential/elc/ExperientialLearningCycle.htm

Northern Illinois University, Office of Students Engagement and Experiential Learning

The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning

Learning on the Go

NIU MobileNIU has released its first campus-wide mobile app, NIU Mobile for Apple (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad), Blackberry, Android, and webOS devices.

The app connects students and faculty to NIU resources on-the-go, including the campus directory and calendar as well as athletics schedules and scores. Campus maps can help new students find their way around campus, and Emergency Information is easy to access. There is even a portal to search the library catalog.

NIU Mobile also includes access to Blackboard Mobile Learn, so students can access course materials, post to the discussion board, and check their grades from anywhere. Faculty can also post announcements from the app.

This video provides a demonstration of the NIU Mobile app and highlights its most exciting features. However, Mobile Learning encompasses more than checking grades from a phone or posting announcements while traveling.

What is Mobile Learning?

There are many definitions of mobile or m-learning, ranging from simple definitions such as “e-learning through mobile computational devices” (Quinn, 2000, para. 1) to complex theoretical definitions of mobile learning as a function of its facets (Laouris & Eteokleous, 2005, para. 15). However, across all definitions there are several common themes:

  • Learning occurs outside of the classroom. Students learn from wherever they are, or from contextually-relevant locations (like museums or landmarks)
  • Learning occurs at any time
  • Learning is facilitated by a mobile device, which can include smartphones (like an iPhone or Android device), cell phones (without web browsing capabilities), tablets (mobile devices with larger screens, like an iPad), and even laptop computers

It is important to note that mobile devices are often viewed as the driving force for mobile learning, but that is not necessarily the case. Mobile Learning is really about new ways to access content and engage with students, as well as innovative methods to analyze information and create media.

Why does Mobile Learning matter?

Internet-capable mobile devices are becoming more prevalent, and new devices like tablets are expanding the possibilities for portable devices. In fact, by the year 2015, it is estimated that 80% of all Internet usage will be done from mobile devices (Ericsson, 2010, para. 5). Mobile devices can be used to access information, communicate with others, compose text, and create media.

Mobile learning can be more engaging for students because it accommodates multiple learning styles, particularly the auditory and kinesthetic styles. Because students are not tied to a classroom, mobile learning can be used to augment real-world experiences, like gathering data, making observations, or conducting interviews.

Convenience is also a factor in mobile learning. Students can access materials at any time and from anywhere, which makes learning accessible to students who might otherwise struggle with courses. Also, high-speed mobile Internet is available in locations where traditional high-speed connections have not yet reached. Pilots of mobile learning initiatives have been conducted with students in remote locations and in developing nations, where mobile technology exists but hard-wired infrastructure is not available (Parker, 2011).

What qualifies as a mobile device?

Mobile learning naturally brings smartphones to mind, like the iPhone or an Android-powered phone. These devices have vast capabilities, including accessing Internet content, running a continually growing selection of programs called apps, and creating and editing media like photos, audio, and video. These devices generally have GPS features for location-specific content.

Tablets, like the iPad, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the Motorola Xoom, are more like keyboard-less laptops. They run apps similar to smartphones, but have larger screens and more processing capabilities. Laptops are also considered mobile devices, since students can utilize them from anywhere, although they are certainly less mobile than smaller devices.

However, these high-end devices are not the only options for mobile learning. While many students do not have smartphones, most do have cellphones. In fact, 93% of adults age 18-29 use a cellphone (Voxy, 2011). Most modern cellphones have capabilities that can be used for mobile learning, like text messaging and cameras.

What activities/techniques are possible?

Technique What is it? How can it be used in the classroom?
Text messaging (SMS)
  • Short text-based messages of 160 characters or less
Mobile photos and video
  • Most modern cellphones are equipped with cameras for photo or video, some high resolution (5-9 megapixels)
  • Smartphones can run apps for photo and video editing
  • Students can document locations or events by taking photos with their phones
  • Students can record presentations as practice or post short videos for classmates to review
  • eBooks can be read and annotated on mobile devices or dedicated readers (e.g. Kindle, Nook, etc.) as well as desktop computers
  • eBooks can include videos and other interactive media that print textbooks cannot
  • Faculty can select textbooks that are available both in print and electronically so students can choose
  • Faculty can create eBooks instead of PDF files for course documents


Quick Response (QR) codes
  • Created using free services, saved as images
  • Can direct to a website, display a short message
  • Displayed on posters, cards, t-shirts, etc.
  • Scanned using free apps
  • QR codes can be used for a scavenger hunt, where each code provides a clue to the location of the next code
  • QR codes can be shorthand to direct students to important resources or detailed information
  • Wide variety of available apps with educational uses
  • Use for classroom activities or as optional study aides
A limited list of potential apps (all free and available for multiple devices): 

  • Evernote: synchronize notes across devices and desktop
  • i-nigma: a simple QR reader
  • foursquare/gowalla/scvngr: location-based apps that can be used for scavenger hunts
  • Dropbox: synchronize files between desktop, mobile, and web
  • Much more


Learn More

The Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is now offering a Mobile Learning Series of workshops. The series began with Learning On the Go: Introduction to Mobile Learning. The presentation from that workshop is available at http://prezi.com/1bxnml5lyi9p/learning-on-the-go/. The series continues with Quick Response (QR) Codes on October 27, 2011 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am and Text Messaging in Teaching on November 17, 2011. Each workshop is independent of the others, so sign up for all or just one! Plus, look for more topics coming in future schedules, including creating and using eBooks, location-based learning, podcasting, mobile media, and more.


Ericsson (July 9, 2010). Mobile subscriptions hit 5 billion mark. Retrieved from: http://www.ericsson.com/jm/news/1430616

Laouris, Y. & Eteokleous, N. (2005). We need an Educationally Relevant Definition of Mobile Learning. Proceedings of the 4th World Conference on mLearning. October 25-28, Cape Town, South Africa. Retrieved from: http://www.mlearn.org.za/CD/papers/Laouris%20&%20Eteokleous.pdf

Parker, J. (2011). Mobile learning toolkit. Retrieved from: http://jenniferparker.posterous.com/mobile-learning-toolkit

Quinn, C. (2000). mLearning: Mobile, Wireless, In-Your-Pocket Learning. LiNE Zine. Fall. Retrieved from: http://www.linezine.com/2.1/features/cqmmwiyp.htm

Voxy (2011). Are we wired for mobile learning? Retrieved from: http://voxy.com/blog/2011/02/are-we-wired-for-mobile-learning/?view=infographic

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