Online College Education? There’s an App for That

Pursuing an online education has many advantages over attending a brick and mortar school. Learning can take place almost anywhere, anytime. But that’s even more true today thanks to many schools using emerging technologies to offer content on mobile phones. Gone are the days of simply using a smartphone to make calls, send text messages to classmates or do a quick Google search. Mobile phones are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for students.

There’s even a proper name for it: Mobile Learning (ML). ML is defined as “learning with portable technologies including but not limited to handheld computers, MP3 players, notebooks and mobile phones,” according to Mobile Learning Edge.

Mobile devices are being used by colleges and universities in a number of ways:

  • Online schools have created apps that enable students to watch video lectures and access course information from inside the apps
  • Students can participate in online discussions or video conferences to work on projects together while living in different parts of the globe
  • University libraries can be accessed by students on the go to read eBooks, conduct research and save useful information for later use
  • Twitter hashtags are used to denote certain schools and classes so that students can share information and comments from other students in real-time even if they are not physically in one classroom

Nursing schools are training their students to use mobile devices to access online medical databases or apps. While they don’t create apps or sites specifically for their schools, many are mandating that students carry a mobile device to reference the most up-to-date medical and pharmaceutical information. Rhonda Maneval of Temple University explains, “In a clinical setting, nurses can’t waste time and effort flipping through a 10-year old reference book. We want to guide students to use technology so they will be prepared when they start seeing patients as professionals.”

Other schools, though, have created their own mobile portals for students. 10 of the online schools currently offering students mobile access to improve their education experience or who have mobile apps in the works include:

University of Phoenix — In April, the University of Phoenix launched an app, only available on the iPhone and iPod touch, which allows students to read online discussions and threads, find assignments and receive an alert when their grades are posted.




Colorado Technical University — CTU uses an online platform that supports access from mobile devices. Students can get course assignments, watch archived lectures, listen to Podcasts and participate in discussion forums.




Grantham University— Grantham recently launched a new web site that delivers content to a variety of devices dynamically. The site detects the user’s device and adjusts to serve the appropriate content.  Future plans include a mobile version of the course delivery platform for students.




Kaplan University — Kaplan offers its students an app to retrieve class content, take part in discussions and access their financial aid information.





American InterContinental University — “AIU Mobile” is offered to students on iPads, iPhones and Android devices. It allows students to respond to questions from teachers and classmates; view, edit and save drafts of discussion comments, and receive alerts when grades are available.




Ashford University — Ashford’s mobile app lets users connect to an online learning center, take part in discussions, view grades and contact university support staff.





DeVry University — DeVry offers a mobile app for students to access library resources so they can search, save and email articles. Other content available includes news, sports and events information.




Golden Gate University — Golden Gate is scheduled to launch an app in the next school year to allow students to access course content.





Western Governors University — is developing apps for various courses they offer online and plan to launch the services in the fall of 2012.





Walters State Community College — This school in Morristown, Tennessee, is considering using a frog-dissection app in place of a traditional science lab for students who are too squeamish to handle the real thing.

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