Out with the old and in with the new—the Academic Technologies Department is bringing vanguard (state of the art) learning opportunities to Boise State in their Mobile Learning Initiative program.

The Mobile Learning Initiative program at Boise State allows faculty and students to use digital devices in the classroom in leiu of textbooks and other teaching aids. As of Feb. 6 new applications such as Atomic Learning and Course Load will be integrated with the Mobile Learning Initiative and became available to students on BroncoWeb and Blackboard.

Atomic Learning is a repository of tutorials available to all students on BroncoWeb. Unlike Khan Academy, which teaches a variety of subjects from English to physics in online video tutorials, Atomic Learning is parallel with the Mobile Learning Initiative’s focus on creating digital fluency among students. Therefore, many online tutorials are continuously updated to teach operating systems, online or standalone applications such as Photoshop, Muse Creative Cloud or Cold Fusion.

The other vanguard technology being introduced is the Course Load E-text that features innovative properties allowing instructors to highlight or note specific passages. Moreover, students can respond in their text with answers or questions to the instructor.

Lana Grover, an instructional design specialist of the Mobile Learning Initiative, explains that these two applications support the main mission of the program.

“We want students leading the way by increasing digital fluency,” Grover said.

This is also an opportunity for both students and faculty to turn digital device distraction into something productive. The program is designed to supply instructors with creative ways to teach students using iPads, and respond to the technical demands of careers students will enter after college.

“The construction management program had recognized that this is where the industry was going and has already integrated. So with the help of academic technologies we launched a mobile program in construction management,” Grover said. “Some alumni were so thankful, that they emailed their first day on the job, which required using tablets.”

Cadet Clint Minton of construction management is already making great use of his iPad and uses it  in the classroom as well as his internship.

“When you have a mobile device in a classroom it’s nice because you have a digital book that you can use to follow along with a lecture,” Minton said.

Minton went on to explain how he uses technology in the classroom. 

“I feel like more often we are utilizing it in the classroom to look up applications that are related, so for my program people use scheduling or construction management planning or plan viewing applications inside or outside of the class time,” Minton said.  “I personally have an internship where I am viewing construction management drawings and when I go and meet with my employer, I take my iPad to expand drawings and create notes on different parts of the drawings.”

The Mobile Learning Initiative is not limited to the construction management degree. The Academic Technologies department facilitates a wide variety of courses to faculty who want to get on board with these devices.

“The option is available to enhance what they are doing but not to change what they are doing,” Grover said.

For example, special lecturer and physics instructor Tiffany Watkins has been utilizing iPads for the past three semesters.

“The iPad provides visualizations to her students aside from some of the abstract instruction they get in lectures, which allows them to have a better hands-on approach to studying,” Watkins said.