We’re here today to discuss Mobile in K-12, but before we dive into that I’d like to talk about the some of the fundamental changes that we’re seeing in the consumer market, and how those changes are ultimately effecting what parents, students, and the rest of your community are expecting from your schools.
In a recent report published by the ACT organization, they found that 75% of freshman are not prepared for college - and may need remedial classes. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/17/scores-show-students-not-ready-college/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS 75?!! Our students are obviously not retaining the information that we’re teaching them - but why? Students today are fundamentally different than they were 10 years ago. They’ve been raised in a hi-tech world which is completely changing the way that they learn and the expectations they (along with their parents) have from your schools.
In the past, the relationship between schools and students, parents, and the community was a predominantly passive experience - the power balance was titled more in your direction. Now, the shift in how they consume information in all areas of their lives, has influenced a change in their expectations from you - making them much more ACTIVE consumers of their own educational experience. So what do these active consumers want? Students and Parents don’t live in a 9-5 world anymore, and they expect you to accommodate for that. Just like any other industry, they are constantly connected and demand high quality, immediate, personalized access to the resources and services that they need. You know what I’m talking about, in every other service that they use (iTunes, Google, Amazon, Pandora, whatever it may be) the content that they see is totally personalized based upon their needs/habits - and it better take less than 2 seconds to get, otherwise you’ve exhausted their patience. So let’s dive a little deeper into the trends in our consumer market that are driving these new expectations.
Right now, you’re all here because you recognize that mobile is important, or maybe you just think it is really cool and want to learn more about it. But mobile to today’s students, and especially the students of the future, isn’t “cool” or “exciting.” It is NECESSARY, and a fundamental part of their everyday life. I had the chance to interview the Associate IT Director from South Orange Community College at our BbWorld conference last year, and he very eloquently said “to offer mobile services in higher education, for some people that is really innovative and cutting-edge, but the reality is that in the real world, that is how students are accessing virtually everything”. The important thing to recognize that they EXPECT IT. Mobile to today’s students is the same as television or air travel is to us. We’ve never known life without it - nor could we FATHOM life without it...
Airplanes changed the way that we travel, TVs changed the way that we consume information, but Mobile devices ... they’re changing the way that we do just about everything. A great example of this: gloves. Gloves have been made the same way for thousands of years, until smartphones came about. It quickly became inconceivable to not be able to use your phone while walking down the street in cold weather. Now, gloves are being manufactured with special materials in the fingertips to allow you to use your smartphone without taking your gloves off.
And with smartphones comes the ever growing world of apps. This market is the paramount example of a brand new industry that has been created out of this mobile revolution - it’s a multimillion dollar industry! Earlier this year, Apple hit 25 BILLION downloads! There is an app for EVERYTHING, including things like potty training.
Yes I said potty training! Recent studies are showing that kids are using smartphones before they are even potty trained. Apps like iGoPotty help to make the potty training process easier for the parents and more fun for the kids. It just goes to show you how fundamentally different this new generation of children AND THEIR PARENTS really are. They recognize that their children are engaged with these devices, so they use them as an educational tool to help make learning easier and more fun. What’s even more interesting is the way these apps work. Believe it or not, iGo Potty addresses some of the most fundamental principles of Mobile Learning: - Organization: Patty the Potty phones your child and reminds them to use the Potty. - Personalized environments and instruction: You can even set how often Patty the Potty calls to remind your child to go to the bathroom. - This app even provides feedback on the kids’ progress, but more than that, - AND it lets you share it with others. The social and shareable aspect of mobile technology is making it’s way into everything, including education, and presents a huge opportunity for collaboration among peers. The bottom line is kids love learning on mobile devices because of the rich media capabilities they offer. In fact, a study done by the Sesame Workshop showed that the majority of kids actually prefer to consume media on mobile devices than on laptops or traditional computers.
And those fundamental principles are present in almost everything we do on our mobile devices- The mindset of our generation is ... Why would I try to navigate directions on a paper map when I could type them into my google maps? Especially when my Google Maps gives me 3 different routes and shows me traffic along the way...
Why would I use yellow pages to look up a locksmith when I can just google it, and dial directly from the browser on my phone? And if I want to, save that contact info directly to my phone for the next time I lock myself out of my apartment...
Why in the world would I record contacts in a physical address book when I could put all of that information (and more) into my phone that enables me to link directly to the phone, email or map? I can do everything else on my smartphone... so WHY CAN’T I ACCESS MY COURSES, PARENT PORTALS, SCHOOL DIRECTORIES, EVENTS, or anything else that I need from my school, on my mobile device in a way that’s quick and easy?
Before we talk more about Mobile Learning, let’s put mobile technology in the context of other major revolutions in education. It’s best to look at how past major technological revolutions have transformed education to better understand how mobile will shape its future. The first major revolution in education occurred with the invention of the printing press. With the printing press, knowledge could be transcribed in books, which could then be distributed to centralized education centers- over time, places like elementary schools, libraries, and universities. Access to education and knowledge meant access to a school. Even with the rapid growth of the personal computer in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the model stayed the same. The catalyst for change…
THE INTERNET. With the internet, knowledge was rapidly decentralized. Anyone with access to a computer with an internet connection had access to more knowledge than they could know what to do with. Suddenly, education was no longer confined to a school or a classroom. In fact, for the first time, US News and World Report has ranked Online learning programs. The methodology and validity of their methods has been undergoing some scrutiny, but the fact of the matter is that Online Learning is now a very valid and widely accepted mode of delivering education.
The internet, however, is no longer confined to a computer. The internet is mobile. The cell phone that is with you wherever you now allows you to access information anytime and anywhere they want it. This represents another subtle but extremely important shift in access to knowledge.
We need to embrace these trends and use them to enhance our overall approach to the educational experience because, quite frankly, our students and their parents already have. And if we don’t do our best to make communicating with and connecting to our schools as easy as possible - we risk losing that connection point with them.
Why must we embrace this change? Take a look at some of these statistics published last year. Our Gen-y youth have higher smartphone penetration than adults - Nielsen 2010 report: http://bit.ly/HfI5ML 57% of children in tablet-owning households use tablets for educational purposes - Nielsen More children between the ages of 2 and 5 know how to use mobile apps before they can even tie their shoes - AVG security: http://www.avg.com/u s-en/press-releases-news.ndi-672
NOT SURE WHERE THIS FITS? For most households that have a tablet device and also have kids under 12, the kids are using these devices- mostly for games. But in this recent Nielsen survey, we see something else; 57% of these kids are also using tablets for educational purposes. This is outside of school instruction and school time. The potential for using these devices that kids already use and love in education is huge.
So we know that we’re probably not the first to tell you that mobile is an important part of your communication and engagement strategy. In fact, many K-12 educators are recognizing the potential of the engaging, intuitive, anytime/anywhere connected devices for education. Nevertheless, there are still 2 distinct camps: those who are trying to outright ban mobile devices from schools, and those who are embracing it. We’ll get to the latter in a minute: first lets’ focus on schools that ban mobile devices. A recent example comes from a school right here in your home state of Pennsylvania that recently issued a ban on wearing Ugg Boots to class because students were using them to sneak their cell phones into class.
We hear a lot of reasons why allowing cell phones in classrooms would be a bad thing: Distraction. Potential for use for bullying. Potential for use for cheating. Not the way we’ve been teaching. I don’t know how to use them. I don’t know what the rules or expectations should be. From our perspective, distraction and cheating and bullying are not new problems. They’ve been around forever, and are going to be your reality whether you have mobile devices or not. As far as changing the classroom and teaching experience, these arguments appear quite similar to the ones encountered when slide rules, and then later calculators, were first introduced. Eventually, their potential to enhance the learning experience of the student prevailed. Rather than focus on rote math tasks, calculators allow students to focus more on the application of math. We think smartphones and access to information will be the same. Back to discipline issues: we’re seeing disciplinary problems actually DECREASE with mobile learning initiatives. An example comes from Rowan-Salisbury School Systems in North Carolina: after implementing a Mobile Learning project, their Executive Director of Technology reported discipline issues went down by 90%. This is because students were more engaged on learning activities on the school bus and had less time to play pranks or bother other students. ( http://content.mobicip.com/content/what-are-mobile-devices-teaching-your-kid ) It’s easy to continue to come up with reasons why something could be BAD out of fear, but it is counterproductive and ignores the vast potential mobile devices can play in the classroom.
Now let’s talk about the schools that recognize the great potential that mobile devices have to be integrated into the learning experience. Among these schools, we’re seeing 2 models emerge: 1-to-1 device initiatives and Bring Your Own Device programs.
Access to modern, current resources: news is happening far faster than it can be transcribed in history books. The internet, wiki’s, and e-books are the textbook of the future.
For many years, Blackboard had been carefully watching mobile technology develop and gain momentum among student populations. In particular, Blackboard had its eye on a company called Terribly Clever, which was actually a group of seniors at Stanford University. Terribly Clever started when Kayvon and a few friends realized they were really tired of going to several different websites for all the information they needed to be a student- courses, financial aid, maps, events, etc. Furthermore, they found it very inconvenient to only be able to access this information from computers; they were used to getting everything they needed in other aspects of life from their smartphones. So they approached the provost with a proposition: if you provide us with access to the information sources that Stanford publishes, we will create an app, available in the iTunes app store, where students, faculty, alumni, and other community members can access all of the information they need about Stanford in one place, available with them at all times. The iStanford app was born, and became so popular so quickly that Kayvon and his team realized they could offer something very valuable to other universities. Blackboard realized, who better to address the student demand for mobile services than students themselves? So back in 2009, Blackboard acquired Terribly Clever, and Kayvon and his team are now running the Mobile group out of our office in San Francisco.
So we really approached this philosophically just as much from a Mobile perspective as we did from an education perspective. The best mobile apps are not designed to 100% replicate a web-based platform; they are meant to enhance them. A great example is a banking app. Think about all of the things you can do with a bank website: research and open checking accounts, apply for a loan, change your investment portfolio, and so on. Those things don’t necessarily translate well to a mobile app, not should they. Your banking app takes into account the things you really need on-the-go, along with the features of your mobile device. An ATM or bank locator is a fantastic example. It uses the phone’s GPS-locating feature to help you determine the nearest ATM- a function you really need when out and about, and can’t find a computer to get it. I was also personally saved by Bill Pay functionality just last week when on a business trip with malfunctioning Wi-Fi in the hotel. I could not get to a bank or my bank’s website to pay my credit card bill; luckily, I was able to pay it in time thanks to my mobile device!
Our theory for creating a mobile app for courses was simple: if we can increase students’ frequency of interaction with courses by making them available on the devices they are glued to at all times, AND put their course tools and materials into a really beautiful and interactive environment, we can increase student engagement.
These principles allowed Blackboard to design a mobile app for Learn from the ground-up. We created native applications for each of the major mobile platforms- iOS (both iPhone and iPad), Android, and BlackBerry. The goal was to provide an intuitive, user-friendly, engaging environment where students can interact with their courses and the most powerful Blackboard Learn features anytime and anywhere.
An example of this was the way we designed Discussions, a very widely-used feature of Blackboard Learn. You will notice that it looks very similar to text messaging! We wanted to bring the way students communicate with each other outside of class into the class experience, so that they can literally take out their phones and connect with other students about their course experience anytime and anywhere. We went one step further, and decided to integrate photo and document sharing into features like discussions and blogs. So the same way that students are taking pictures of themselves and things that inspire them and uploading them to Facebook, we wanted to mimic this for the class.
But the educational experience is not only about what goes on in the classroom - especially in K-12 institutions like yours. We all know that Parents are the most important partner in a child's education and schools can reap large dividends by capitalizing on their support. From helping them with their homework to being more involved in school events and activities, they are an integral part of our students success. Richard O’Malley from Edison Township said it well... But just like our children, K-12 parents have also never known a world without the internet and a cell phone. On top of that, most families require both parents to work full time jobs which makes staying involved with everything going on at school and in their children’s education much more difficult. So, what can you do to change that? How can you more effectively communicate with those busy parents and get them more involved?
It’s right there in front of you - through the devices that all of these people would admittedly be LOST without and carry with them 24/7. Did you know that 83% of young people sleep with their cell phones? What’s more, 35% of smartphone users browse the apps on their phone before they even get out of bed!! I know I check my texts, email, weather and path all before I get out of bed in the morning. This is a HUGE opportunity for you to create that additional touch point with your parents and community. Like I said, we know we’re not the first ones to tell you that you need to integrate mobile into your overall communication strategy. But a lot of schools have been holding back because they’re not sure what the strategy should be, what platform they should choose, or how to attack the problem.
The task of developing a mobile strategy may seem daunting, but that’s why you partner with someone like Blackboard to help you find the solution that’s right for you. With almost 250 clients world-wide, we’ve worked with just about every kind of institution you can imagine - all of which have different needs and specific goals that they want to achieve with their mobile strategy. With that knowledge in our back pocket and a process that has been streamlined over 3 years of continuous improvement, we’re equipped with the tried and true knowledge and experience to help you get from point A to point B in a structured process that any marketing department can handle.
With access to everything from Parent Portals, News, Athletics Schedules and contact directories - a centralized application gives your community and parents instant, easy access to all of the information that they need to stay involved on with your students school work and life - even while they’re busy at work. While we provide 14 native modules, out of the box, our Platform is designed to be extendable. With our SDK and mobile web links, the sky is really the limit as far as the functionality that you can include.
Edison Township’s district-wide mobile app is a great example - you can see that they have really taken their mobile strategy to the next level. They’ve expanded the their offering to include modules that are useful for: - parents with custom access to their parent portal, - students with their school lunch menus and - even people who are thinking about moving into their district with the street index and immediate access to individual school websites. And this is all on top of the out of the box functionality like contact directories, district news and events, maps and more. (click) The possibilities truly are endless. You can even incorporate the ability for students to report a bully, right from their mobile device.
So like I’ve been saying,the purpose offering these mobile solutions is not to fully REPLACE the infrastructure that you currently have in place - whether is be your LMS, website, or traditional communication tools. Your mobile strategy is about incorporating these tools to extend the reach of your message and lessons outside of the classroom and into their everyday lives to enhance their overall experience with your school. You need both your students and their parents to know that they are getting the best value out of the education and in order to do that, you have to stay relevant with today’s technology. If they don’t believe that you’re providing them value through education - you can lose your credibility as an elite institution, lose their support and lose their attention. And in that situation, nobody wins.
(May not need this...) It’s been proven that people remember enjoyable, useful, engaging experiences and therefore want to repeat them. Because “engagement” is such an emotional and behavioral connection, it’s pertinent that the channel by which you’re communicating with your audience is beautiful and enjoyable - otherwise they simply won’t use it. source: http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/~mounia/Papers/engagement.pdf ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Blackboard Mobile builds truly native apps across all major mobile platforms, plus the mobile web. This means you can: Provide that immediate access to vital campus information to the greatest number of your constituents, enabling them to stay connect to your institution 24/7. Provide your community with apps designed specifically for the devices they’re already using with the interface they expect , leveraging the specific paradigms of those platforms vs. building once and deploying to many. So that means, for example, leveraging the latest functionality of the iOS operating system to develop Augmented Reality capabilities for our iPhone app or building widgets—a uniquely Android capability--into our Android application. This functionality cannot be achieved with a speed-to-market focused [middleware] or mobile web only approach. And it’s not just about our app and the end user experience ... We strive to create the best experience in every aspect of our business . So when clients are implementing their app, it’s the best experience possible. And that means you get apps that are more enjoyable to use and are therefore used more, and give you the desired benefit you’re hoping for: an engaged and involved student, a positive brand image that resonates with prospective students, and a young alumni base that stays connected even after they leave campus .
We’re here to help you connect with your parents and their children - on their terms. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Our team is truly a partner with you in establishing and perpetuating your success. We are helping you build an experience, meet your goals for attracting, retaining, and engaging students, not delivering just an app or a “MEAP”. We deliver a True, Long-Term Mobile Strategy – Buyers can feel confident in the decision they make to partner with us. MC is the platform that is being built to support long term innovations whether developed by us, our clients or 3rd parties. We deliver a true long term mobile strategy, not just an app. We are light years ahead of the competition here, they throw in campus life modules as supporting what they think is most valuable such as integration into the SIS. Where we want to go is to do both and then more with the same quality user experience we have with MC today. Continuous Innovation – At Bb Mobile, continuous innovation is engrained in who we are. We continue to add to and enhance our products (e.g., just recently Augmented Reality, enhancements to Tours, Springboard Personalization; historically, the addition of new platforms; Mobile Learn was one of the first apps launched for the iPad ), with all new enhancements included as part of your subscription. These enhancements aren’t made in a vacuum: they’re based on input we receive from you, and from keeping our finger on the pulse of mobile technology. Customizable Platform – Our customizable platform delivers both out of the box functionality plus the flexibility to build your own apps with the Blackboard Mobile SDK (again, all included in your subscription), allowing you to focus your energy on developing greater customization, not on reinventing the wheel. Detailed Analytics - Know at all times how and when your app is being used. With our Analytics Portal, you have instant access to data including the number of users, usage by date and by device type, length per session, most used modules and more. Use this data to help evaluate (and tweak) your marketing efforts as well as validate or refute what services are most important to your users. Marketing Support – Our Marketing Team will work with you to help build out a marketing project plan for your app to drive app adoption and usage. You’ll also have access to our Marketing Resource Center where you’ll find hint, tips, guides and even templates for marketing your app, along with examples of marketing campaigns executed by many of our clients.
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