Utilizing mobility inside and outside of the classroom


October is a key month for the education sector. Not only are students settling in to their first semester, but it’s also when the largest Education Industry show, EDUCAUSE, takes place. EDUCAUSE showcases the latest technologies in the education sector. As the Inside BlackBerry® for Business Blog’s Education Subject matter expert, I’m going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about digital technology – and the role played by BlackBerry® smartphones – in the education sector.

Why do we need to embrace technology in this industry?

In a word: mobility. The use of smartphones with today’s students is growing at an astonishing rate. With so many students bringing this technology to the classroom, professors are beginning to embrace and use mobility to their advantage.

Cell phones and smartphones had been previously waved off as merely a distraction, and ‘no cell phone’ policies began to creep into many classrooms. This was understandable – when these devices were capable of only voice and texting. But now, smartphones have come a long way, and students are using the functionality to the full potential. Instead of asking students to power down, educators are beginning to embrace technology by speaking to youth in their native language – the digital language. Speaking to students in this language helps connect their learnings to practical use in the workforce – and that’s the goal: To prepare them for a career where they will most likely be handed a smartphone to use.

Why BlackBerry solutions in the classroom?

In the last couple of years I’ve seen firsthand how quickly students adapt to this ever-changing mobile environment. They crave new advancements and new ways to use these powerful devices. And after seeing an entire MBA program equipped with BlackBerry smartphones, the use of BlackBerry smartphones in the education sector seems endless. They provide a basic structure with access to email, calendars, and contacts; they allow access to course content; and the most innovative instant messaging platform – BlackBerry® Messenger (BBM™) – gives students and faculty the tools they needed to collaborate effectively and provide academic value on a mobile platform.

With the ability to access email, calendars, and contacts, students and faculty were able to stay organized, stay in touch, and have access to the information they needed, wherever they happened to be. Using the Chalk Pushcast Software, professors are able to push course content to students, track downloads and, based on the collected information, restructure their class-time to be more collaborative in nature by discussing the content and reviewing materials that students were lacking knowledge in.

The use of BBM has been by far the most impressive, especially when it comes to creating groups for each class, study groups, and even for an entire program. Students and professors can stay in touch, work on a group project from any location, share files and calendars, and send out notifications to the entire class. A simple message can provide everyone with the update they need and, due to the instant messaging format, students review the material more regularly than other formats.

Using these simple yet robust functions makes integrating technology into the learning experience second nature to everyone involved. And with the large variety of applications available, students and faculty have simplified access to information and tools they need in their academic lives – not to mention the hundreds of social networking, gaming, and personal apps. This includes campus life apps providing access to campus maps, news, and course calendars; mobile learning apps providing access to media-rich content and integration with learning management systems; and campus safety apps giving everyone peace of mind, just to name a few. The use of technology inside and outside of the classroom is expanding, and by providing a powerful and versatile platform that students take with them wherever they go, will shape the future of education.

Let me know how you use BlackBerry within the education sector, or if you have some interesting ideas on how it could be used with students and/or faculty.

About Tara C.

Tara, Marketing Manager for Education, joined Research In Motion (RIM) in 2007. Tara has spent this time promoting the BlackBerry solution within various public sector verticals, with a distinct focus on enabling interactive, technology-rich learning environments. She has developed and maintained numerous relationships with academic institutions, associations, and software vendors to collaborate on strategic initiatives within the education sector. Prior to RIM, Tara worked in marketing and advertising spanning the healthcare and telecommunications industries.

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