Mobile Devices in Higher Education

Bryan Alexander, a Senior Fellow for the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), sums up very well in the video below a lot of the debates and issues that are going on around the use of mobile devices. These are a few that jumped out at me:

Developing for mobile devices

With the introduction of mobile devices and especially smartphones, it gives us more decisions about what we should be developing. Should we create an app? Should it be for iPhone or for Android? Or iPad? Should we create a page for feature phones? Alexander contends that with the recession and lack of resources we should not lose sight of using HTML and the web for development.

New challenges for IT on campuses

IT used to only have to support PCs or Macs. Now they have an increasing number of computing devices that are in their purview such as tablets and smartphones. Talking to the Mac guru on my campus, he told me that these days every students has probably three IP addresses (connected gaming consoles, tablets, iPod touches, laptops, netbooks, desktops, etc.). With all of these new devices there is additional strain on network resources.

Augmented reality

I really enjoy the way Alexander describes augmented reality, which too often seems simply like a novelty for people with smartphones. But he talks about it in a very different, almost poetic way: “I don’t just mean the single type that people might know of people pointing a phone at something and having digital content superimposed on it. That’s one valid type, but I mean the fact of having physical locations infested, enriched by digital content… like a second atmosphere settling onto the earth’s surface… It’s reinventing the notion of space that we inhabit.”

Andy Burkhardt


  1. AR is huge in scope, potentially. It’s been building up for a while, and just gathering steam. We have to get poetic about it just to start thinking!

  2. Well the idea of a second atmosphere gets one thinking “what content is connected to where I am right now?” At UVM, I’m pretty sure they are working on an iPhone app that connects certain geographical locations on the Long Trail to their library’s digital collections. So you could be hiking along and get a notification on your phone that tells you that there is a historical photo tied to where you are right now. You could look at it and browse other photos and learn more about the history of your location. It really does have huge potential.

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