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Blended Learning -- to go!

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Once the great menace of the classroom, cellphones and other mobile devices are gaining functionality as an educational tool, both in and out of the classroom. Though many educators may be skeptical about introducing or encouraging the use of these devices, creators of OERs and other educational materials are increasingly working to harness their potential for interesting and diverse uses. While there isn't necessarily cohesion to the pool of uses, the diversity is part of the appeal. It's worth experimenting with the different possibilities to see if and where they can be useful to you.

Resources covered:
Top Hat

Top Hat and Twitter, while very different platforms designed with very different purposes in mind, can be used for some of the same educational purposes. Top Hat bills itself as a "classroom engagement" tool, allowing professors to ask questions and manage conversations with students via their mobile devices. Because Top Hat is designed for use in the classroom, it also has unique capabilities with regard to generating reports and automatically grading mobile quiz answers. Basically, Top Hat works like "clicker" technologies, without having to handle the costs of purchasing the devices and instead harnessing the technology already in the room. The limitation is, of course, that even Top Hat isn't completely free -- the free version bears some limitations. The perk of Twitter, of course, is that it is completely free. Like Top Hat, it allows instructors to start discussions, and for students to bandy questions and reflect collectively on the class and materials. Of course, Twitter also raises privacy issues since tweets are released into the world at large rather than contained in a registered classroom. On the other hand, that does raise some interesting possibilities for international collaborations. The other perk of Twitter is that it isn't completely restricted to cellphones - it can be used on any device with internet access or a Twitter app.

Flowboard is a rather different application for mobile devices. Unlike Top Hat and Twitter, it's iPad specific, with some limited functionality for computer-based online activity. The premise of Flowboard is to provide a platform which creates, integrates, and presents information, images, and media -- all from a mobile device. Because of the touch capability of an iPad, it's simple and intuitive to use. Because of its shareable nature, Flowboard is both a presentation and collaboration tool.