The purpose of the Mobile Learning Fellows program is to encourage faculty to explore new methods of engaging students and encouraging active student involvement using mobile devices and emerging technologies, and to share their methods with others.
Technology is constantly evolving and with it the opportunities to develop new and more exciting ways to engage students. The WSCC Mobile Learning Fellows Program will provide incentives and rewards to faculty who use these technologies to develop creative ways to increase student learning and who share with others those ways of engaging students.
Darlene Smith, assistant professor of education, sees students excited when using mobile devices in the classroom. She knows that excitement translates into increased learning rates and higher retention. Smith frequently checks out one of the college's iPad carts for use in her classroom and she's even arranged for a student to finish a class via FaceTime, a video-conferencing tool.
Smith joined the Walters State faculty in 2007. A Morristown native, she holds a B.S. in elementary education from Carson-Newman College and a M.Ed. in educational administration and supervision from East Tennessee State University. She previously taught at the elementary school level.
"I have seen how students relate to mobile technology. I firmly believe that the content you teach is most important, but why would you not use mobilization if it makes the content easier to understand and more memorable for students?" she said.
Smith also includes classroom mobilization as part of her classroom syllabi, not just as a delivery method. The students in her classes will be teachers in a few years.
"I want my students to be prepared to use mobile tools in the classroom. These tools make it possible for a teacher to engage many different learning styles within one lesson plan," Smith added.
Dr. Matthew Smith, assistant professor of chemistry, views technology as one way to make out-of-classroom assignments more interactive for students. When those assignments involve more than just textbook reading, students are more likely to come to class prepared. Smith often includes viewing his lectures on a mobile device as homework. This frees up classroom time to actually see how chemistry principles relate to the world.
Smith is a native of Mississippi and joined the Walters State faculty in 2010. He holds a B.S. degree in chemistry from William Carey University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Tennessee. He previously taught at the high school level and as an adjunct faculty member at Walters State.
"I have found students come to class prepared when assignments involve mobile technology. As an instructor, I can then take the class a step forward with preliminary research that tests the theories," Smith said.
His students include many pre-professional students – future doctors, dentists and pharmacists. The variety of mobile apps available empowers those students to master chemistry and absorb information that will be used throughout their careers.
One of Smith's favorite mobile apps allows students to create new medicines and then see if the medicines would actually work against bacteria or diseases.
"When students see how a principle of chemistry relates to their individual lives, they become so much more engaged. They want to learn more, to do more," Smith said.