One of the advantages that online colleges have over traditional universities is agility. As a recent article on The Chronicle of Higher Education humorously noted, “the pace of change is stuck somewhere between sluggish and glacial.”
Online schools aren’t tied to the established standards of older institutions and so are able to adapt quickly. In particular, online colleges have embraced mobile technology as a way to deliver content to students. The Open University, based in the United Kingdom, plans to leverage mobile apps to provide learning materials to its 250,000 students by early 2013. The school serves students all over the world and first enrolled students in 1971. Technology is changing the way The Open University interacts with students and faculty. According to the Guardian, the college has seen a surge in younger students in the last few years:
The OU's focus on distance or "open" learning naturally lends itself to the use of new technologies, for example making use of the digital media player iTunes and video-sharing website YouTube to deliver lectures and resources, which appeals to internet-savvy young people.
An app know as OUAnyhwere, will soon be available for Android, Apple, Amazon and Windows mobile devices. The OU hopes that improved access to course material will make it easier for part-time students to watch lectures and complete assigned reading. Their strategy for the app will prepare them for a mobile future, according to TechCrunch:
The OU notes that its scalable XML workflow can automatically render a single input file to multiple formats (print, web and e-book) — giving it the ability to repurpose existing study materials for new delivery mechanisms such as mobile. However in future iterations of OUAnywhere it says it will look to create “new learning products” specifically designed for mobile and tablet devices — rather than converting legacy learning materials.
The university also plans to develop interactive e-books with embedded audio, video and HTML5 learning activities (using the EPUB 3 specification) for future iterations of the apps.
How is your college using mobile apps? Let us know in the Comments section.