In 2012, Lambton College announced its goal of building on its recent achievements in hybrid learning to become a mobile learning college. The initial strategies and projects are described in the Pocket of Innovation entitled.
In the intervening years, the majority of programs were designed for mobile access during learning inside and outside the classroom. As more programs integrated educational technology to enhance teaching and learning, the concept of Class+ Experience evolved. Lambton defines this approach as: “The Class+ Experience delivers an active learning and teaching environment – built on quality curriculum, exemplary teaching, sound infrastructure and current and emerging technologies – that fully and creatively engages students and the college community”.
The goal is not to become an online campus but to expand and deepen learning by integrating multiple resources for use in and out of class.
The core of the mobile college innovation is to provide information, apps, and activities for all formats of teaching – face-to-face, hybrid and online – accessible and consumable on a mobile device. The college recommends the iPad, but students can choose which model of laptop, smartphone or tablet to bring to class.
The Class+ experience builds on the traditional learning in classrooms, by integrating resources and learning tools such as e-books, software, apps and open educational resources (OER). Web-based apps are favoured as they are accessible on any device. This openness to technology accelerated a transformation in teaching practice to emphasize activity, engagement and collaboration.
demonstrate how Class+ ideas are incorporated in teaching and learning:
- Interactive class sessions where the power of their iPads translates into real-time collaborative learning.
- Students have the ability to present documents and reports more creatively by adding text, audio and visual files to online presentations… and create diagrams and maps to support group project planning.
- Students studying makeup application techniques are using iPad apps with virtual mirrors to practice side by side application.
- Through the use of an iPad, students in the Renovation Technician program will also be able to record demonstrations, review and follow instructions for assignments, research right in class, work collaboratively with the instructor and other students, and build a portfolio of completed theory and lab assignments.
Lambton College supports professors in the design of new and redevelopment of online and hybrid courses through the Design House where faculty members bring their content and work with instructional designers, media specialists and project assistants to design modern and interactive courses. Co-op
students work as project assistants, on semester-long placements from the Educational Technology and Instructional Design graduate certificate program at Lambton or as a co-op placement from similar programs at other Ontario colleges or universities. Once faculty and staff are satisfied with the design, on-site experts assess each course according to the rubric. The course is then revised and published.
Building on this extensive experience in integrating technology for effective learning, Lambton College launched theas an external service to develop online training for small- to medium-sized businesses and to work with other colleges. Their services include articulation of the storyboards to guide course development, building all content, site design, and integrating technology for effective learning.
The Learning Innovation Centre offers faculty training and development opportunities, as well as access to and support in the use of numerous online tools for participation, feedback, quizzes, content presentation and learning activities.
Benefits and Outcomes
Mobile access to course content and activities means students can learn anywhere, anytime, connect with professors outside class and office hours and communicate with other students on their own schedules. In addition to the enriched academic experience extending beyond the classroom, students learn to use cutting edge apps that are part of business and industry environments.
Research on the mobile learning and Class+ initiatives reveals student engagement increased in programs across campus.
The college integrated mobile technologies into the classroom, rather than attempt to restrict their usage. Instead of struggling to limit classroom usage, this approach takes advantage of student access and attachment to mobile devices, broadening their usage for educational purposes.
Online courses also feature increased interactivity – moving beyond a format limited to click, read and test - to embed apps, videos, portfolios, quizzes and connections with peers.<>All hybrid courses, about 100, are being assessed and revised according to the Quality Matters rubric to ensure consistency and achievement of standards. Faculty are seconded to the Learning Innovation Centre as advisors for this process. Professors meet in groups with an advisor to measure and modify their courses as, despite differences in content, they work with the same principles. The sharing heightens creativity and commitment to quality.
In 2015, Lambton College received an .award, given to higher-education academic programs that provide one-to-one access to Apple notebook computers and/or mobile devices and demonstrating an innovative and compelling learning environment that engages students and provides tangible evidence of academic accomplishment
Challenges and Enhancements
Rick Overeem, Director of the Learning Innovation Centre, Online Education, and Educational Pathways, describes the move to a mobile learning college as “a huge and daunting undertaking as we expanded from the first three programs in 2013 to almost all programs on campus today.”>
Student technological expertise does not usually extend to the use of devices for learning – the use of the learning management system and educational apps present new frontiers for them. Third-year students provide support for first-year students, often going into classrooms to support students during applications in class.
In a research study, students suggested they needed clearer instructions on accessing resources;in response, more detailed directions and clearly highlighted links were added to the basic design.>
Change management presents a challenge as faculty fear loss of control with technology in classrooms as they are faced with potentially 40+ devices connected to the Internet, which creates concerns for classroom management. Professors are offered training and professional development on how to encourage and support the use of devices for educational purposes rather than social media tools.
Infrastructure and connectivity are repeatedly tested prior to class usage, but usually in empty classrooms. The requirements of 40+ students downloading at the same time, however, often created outages and blockages. Faculty now can use their devices in any classroom to connect with the on-demand IT Help Desk activating a rapid response for assistance. Faculty are encouraged to call the help desk at the first sign of a problem rather than struggle through the issue, wasting class time and creating frustration for both the students and faculty.
Rick Overeem provides an overview of the potential and purpose of the mobile learning college and Class+ Experience: “Today’s college students are being trained for jobs that may not yet exist; this initiative supports the development of creative, problem solving and technologically fluent graduates, able to adapt, learn, and incorporate workplace and societal changes”.
Lambton continues to support students in their choice of device and technology, leading to more open education. The adoption and adaptation of open educational resources supports anywhere, anytime learning, saves student money for textbooks, and provides access to an immense variety of quality learning resources.
For Further Information
Director, Learning Innovation Centre, Online Education, Educational Pathways
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada