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.
Walters State Community College has recognized two faculty members as 2014-15 Mobile Fellows.
Candace Justice, assistant professor of developmental reading and writing, and Samantha Isasi, instructor of developmental reading and writing, will each receive a stipend to complete a project using mobile learning teaching tools, including phones and tablets. Throughout the year, the two will share their knowledge with others.
The Mobile Fellows program began in 2013 to encourage faculty members to explore using mobile technology to increase student involvement and learning.
"Mobile learning is constantly evolving today. We have many new and exciting ways to engage our students. The Mobile Learning Fellows Program provides incentives and rewards to faculty who use these technologies to increase student learning," said Dr. Lori Campbell, vice president for academic affairs at Walters State.
"Candace and Samantha are both dedicated faculty members who use innovative ways to increase student success. I am eager to see the results of their work this year," Campbell said.
Justice joined the Walters State staff in 2009 as the coordinator of the English Writing Lab. She moved to the English faculty the following year. She holds both a B.A. (English) and B.S. (education) from Concord University. She also holds a M.A. in English from East Tennessee State University. She teaches primarily at Walters State's Morristown campus. As her mobile learning project, she is teaching a class using iPads.
"Outside of class, students watch lectures and other assignments. Students also take quizzes about the content. When they come to class, we are ready to start writing," Justice said.
For many students, writing can be a lonely and daunting task. Justice has seen many stare at blank pieces of papers for a class period. Now, with no need for a lecture during class time, writing can become a group activity in the classroom. Students share ideas and encouragement. If a student does have difficulty, Justice is there to help.
"For example, I might give students a paragraph about a possible topic. The group will prepare an outline in class," Justice said.
Isasi, who teaches at the Sevier County Campus, is showing her students how to use smart phones as learning devices.
Through apps like QuizUp, Isasi is making grammar a competitive out-of-the-classroom activity. Students review classroom material and take quizzes until the material is mastered. The app randomly pairs students with other people taking the quiz. Sometimes, students challenge each other. Other times, students may find they are competing with English students across the country or even around the world.
"A student might come in and say 'I lost to a student in China, but that's not going to happen again,'" Isasi said.
"Students love their phones. By using apps in teaching, I'm showing them another way to use their phones. I also hope the class is more interesting. They don't want to hear me lecture on comma splices, but they don't mind being quizzed on comma splices," she said.
Walters State Community College began its mobile learning program in 2011, collaborating with the Tennessee Board of Regents Office of Mobilization and Emerging Technology. The college has since become a national leader in the use of mobile learning tools in the classroom.
Walters State is an Apple Distinguished Program, an honor reserved for programs that meet select criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence. The college was ranked as No. 3 among tech-savvy community colleges in the 2013 "Digital Community College Survey."
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.