Thinking Like a Digitally Connected Professor…with Mobile Phone in Hand

“Mobile phones are misnamed. They should be called gateways to human knowledge.” –Ray Kurzweil 

“The students of the future will demand the learning support that is appropriate for their situation or context. Nothing more. Nothing less. And they want it at the moment the need arises. Not sooner. Not later. Mobiles will be a key technology to provide that learning support.”
 –Dr. Marcus Specht 

Is your mobile device (phone) always in your hand? Mine is. My boyfriend can attest to this. It has advantages (convenience and lifehacks/timehacks). I hope to share in a series of posts, the way my mobile device can help me create teaching and learning materials for my classroom and beyond. Here are a few mobile apps I use on a regular basis and “digital habits” I have learned to create for myself that enhance my teaching.

  1. Camera feature. Nearly all smartphones have a camera. I teach literacy studies courses. That means I teach teachers how to teach reading and writing (plus other facets of language arts/language/literacy). I have started taking pictures of  literacy and language events to include in the professor-authored materials I create.  Pictures that relate to your course content can come in handy when designing the following:
    • Text-based content (aka “Professor-Authored Readings”). These are usually text-based readings saved as a PDF and they are basically a summary of key ideas, my own commentary on course content, and additional ideas not in the textbook. Pictures enhance any block of text. Avoid the dreaded “wall of text” in text-based readings. In fact, ironic though it may sound given my subject area, try to avoid over-doing text-based readings. All students will tell you they are visual learners (whether multi-modal learning styles actually “exist” is subject to much debate. See Dan Willingham).
    • Content-slides for webinars. I always include a PowerPoint ahead of time for students to preview and review before and after a webinar.
    • Images for background of podcasts. I use VoiceThread, Tellagami, and SoundCloud. Images don’t have to be content-specific, either. I include geographic-specific local iconic and unique images of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex that reflect the area. This is especially fun for me to represent the region to students who may never actually attend class in a brick and mortar classroom at UT Arlington.
    • I ask my twin sister to send literacy-related images of my niece’s and nephews interactions with literacy and save these to my mobile device.
    • To sum up this feature, I have started “seeing” the world through the lens of an all-online professor who seeks out creative digital visual content to include in current and future digital materials I create myself. Using my own images means I own them.
  2. Voice Memo app. I use the Voice Memo app on my iPhone6 to create both a) transcripts for podcasts and b) the audio podcasts themselves. Opening up a note means that I can use the speech-to-text feature to record my words and then email them to my laptop to edit and ultimately use as a transcript. I do this through a Google Doc to store all work in the cloud (convenience). I can then read from the transcript (pulled up on either my iPad or my laptop screen) and recording the podcast and then email it myself. Quick and easy! Ideas are brainstormed, semi-scripted, and they are easy to  produce by myself. I can do these on my couch or chaise lounge!

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How do you think about course design and adding multi-media content to your teaching, with your phone in hand? 

Comments are welcome!

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