The Center for Distributed Learning conducted a survey in the 2014 spring semester about student use of mobile and eTextbook technologies at UCF. We asked students to name some mobile apps that they frequently use for learning purposes. In this entry, we share the top five categories of mobile apps that students reported. We describe the apps, and also propose implications for instructors.
The word cloud below provides a visual representation of their answers. The larger the word, the more frequently the word was mentioned by students.
1. Learning Management System (Canvas by Instructure/Webcourses@UCF): By far, use of the mobile app for UCF’s learning management system, Webcourses@UCF, was the most frequently used for learning purposes. Nearly 70% of the respondents use this app at least once a week to complete coursework. This is not a surprising finding, since 35% of all UCF credits are now online. To download the app, go to http://online.ucf.edu/support/webcourses/other/ucfmobile/
Instructors: We recommend downloading the mobile app to see how your courses appear on mobile devices. Some tips to improve the mobile accessibility of your online course include limiting tables and large files, as well as taking advantage of built-in tools like Pages.
Instructors: Google and Safari may be effective search engines for general information, but students may need some guidance about perfecting their search for course-specific information. For instance, perhaps there are search terms, or a different database altogether, that could help them.
Quizlet is a free study app that allows the user to take other people’s quizzes, and also create their own. A user can create multiple choice, matching, true/false, and open-ended questions in a “study set”. This set can be presented in different ways, such as flashcards and games.
Instructors: Create a Quizlet study set for your class, or ask students to create them and share with each other. These quizzes could be used by other students for preparation. Upgrading to Quizlet Teacher allows you to track student progress.
4. Reading (Kindle and iBooks)
Reading apps like Kindle and iBooks allow students to carry many books on a single mobile device. These apps are synced across devices, meaning that you can stop reading on the phone and pick up where you left off on your iPad.
Instructors: If you require print materials, check and see if there is a digital version. There are plenty of free or cheap Kindle books. Note that iBooks only works on iOS devices.
5. Resource management (Dropbox and Evernote)
Students are using apps to manage their resources. Dropbox offers file management and sharing of files, while Evernote helps to organize notes and collect information in a single area.
Instructors: These students are already using these apps to manage their own learning, so suggest more customized ways to organize the resources for your specific course. For instance, if you have assigned a paper for the course, you may suggest that they create several files in Dropbox to perfect the different parts of their draft. These documents can be easily shared with the instructor.
UCFMobile: Access UCF resource while on-the-go, including campus maps, Webcourses, Knights Mail, UCF Library, and more. For additional information, visit http://ucfmobile.ucf.edu
Even if you are not a frequent app user, it does pay to log in and get a feel for these most basic apps. This will help support your students’ learning, and teach you a few new things as well.