Mobile Devices and Education: Consumption v. Production

Images of different mobile technologies--iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Nook.

Designing the Obvious (2010) author, Robert Hoekman adamantly encourages developers to design with mobile applications in mind. While mobile devices, such a the iPad and iPhone can be limiting to expert users who need more intensive tools, these devices do all the tasks that most people need from their technology:

And while many people in the tech industry still see some of these gadgets as luxury items—often even wondering what on Earth they would do with a tablet—these devices are designed for the other 99 percent. They’re designed for that large segment of the population that uses computers for paying bills, social networking, making plans, watching videos, checking the news, listening to music, digging up recipes, learning new skills, creating spreadsheets for work, writing memos, and of course, checking email. These people use computers primarily for media consumption, web browsing, and basic document-creation. And that’s exactly what the iPad and other tablets are designed to do best. (Kindle Location 156-1490).

The last part of that quote made me pause: “These people use computers primarily for media consumption.” What is the relationship between media/information consumption and production within the context of the college classroom–more specifically, a classroom within the Humanities?

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Questions: Recreating Tools for Teaching Communication Online

Questions to consider about recreating tools for teaching communication online:

  1. I’m consistently frustrated that I can’t spend more time discussing the work produced by individual students. Although creating online teaching tools would mean extensive work on the front end (developing, writing, producing, editing the tools), would it actually free up more time to discuss individual writing?  How much “instruction” could I offload to spaces outside the classroom, so I can focus more directly on individual concerns inside the classroom?
  2. How do we ensure that students use the technologies/applications outside of class? What types of checks must be in place? And how do we do that without giving students yet another login name and password.
  3. What level of writers would this be most effective for? First year writers? Intermediate? Advanced? Undergraduate? Graduate?
  4. What genre of writing would this be most effective for? Academic composition (whatever that means)? Business writing? Technical writing? Web writing?
  5. Am I trying to focus on teaching global process (organization, arrangement, delivery), or local form (grammar, mechanics).