Mobile computing, by which we mean use of the network-capable devices students are already carrying, is already established on many campuses, although before we see widespread use, concerns about privacy, classroom management, and access will need to be addressed. At the same time, the opportunity is great; virtually all higher education students carry some form of mobile device, and the cellular network that supports their connectivity continues to grow. An increasing number of faculty and instructional technology staff are experimenting with the possibilities for collaboration and communication offered by mobile computing. Devices from smart phones to netbooks are portable tools for productivity, learning, and communication, offering an increasing range of activities fully supported by applications designed especially for mobiles.
Open content, also expected to reach mainstream use in the next twelve months, is the current form of a movement that began nearly a decade ago, when schools like MIT began to make their course content freely available. Today, there is a tremendous variety of open content, and in many parts of the world, open content represents a profound shift in the way students study and learn. Far more than a collection of free online course materials, the open content movement is a response to the rising costs of education, the desire for access to learning in areas where such access is difficult, and an expression of student choice about when and how to learn.
How can we begin to explore the possibilities of these trends?