Northeastern University’s Mobile Learning Initiative

  • Posted by Alicia Russell
  • October 27, 2011 6:27 AM PDT
  • 1 comment

iPad2s for Faculty

Northeastern University’s Educational Technology Center recently began offering iPad2s to faculty as part of a Mobile Learning Initiative.  This initiative grew out of an earlier program aimed at giving faculty members the opportunity to experiment with new technologies for teaching and learning by providing them hardware (digital recorders and digital cameras), and instructional design and digital media support.

 To launch the Mobile Learning Initiative, the EdTech Center sent out an RFP inviting faculty to describe what they wanted to accomplish with the new technology, and how they would measure their success. The EdTech Center was specifically looking for proposals that described how faculty planned to use features and functions unique to the iPad and not available on a laptop. Project goals needed to go beyond using iPads simply because of their portability. Additionally, EdTech Center staff were interested in helping faculty explore ways they could use the iPads in different disciplines. Faculty iPad recipients were asked to keep a blog, in which they first detailed their project and goals, and then write about what they learned at different points during the semester. They would also join a cross-disciplinary learning community composed of other iPad recipients that would meet for a luncheon at least once each semester to share successes and failures. After successfully completing their own projects and presenting their experiences to other faculty members at an EdTech Center-sponsored teaching and learning event, the iPads would be theirs to keep, and it was expected that they would continue exploring new ways to incorporate the iPad into the classroom.

Mobile Learning Website

In support of the project, the EdTech Center launched a Mobile Learning website, developed in Wordpress. Initially the site was intended to highlight selected newsworthy items about mobile learning and provide a place for faculty to review and recommend apps in exchange for receiving a free app (an idea based upon Emory’s “Apps Lab,” described in an article on this site. (

The EdTech Center expanded its Mobile Learning site to include a section for what it calls “app bundles,” or collections of recommended apps for completing tasks relevant to specific teaching and learning efforts within the University academic community. An example is a collection of apps called “Create a Digital Story,” which includes details on how to use apps such as Pages, Voice Memos, and iMovie to create a digital story on the iPad. See

The site is now also the virtual home of Northeastern’s Mobile Learning Initiative, and features the faculty iPad recipients’ blogs and their descriptions of their projects.

Projects include exploring the use of the iPad for creating “digital scrapbooks” in first-year College writing courses; as a bedside patient educational tool during the medication reconciliation and discharge counseling process within pharmacy practice; and for examining “synergies between mobile platforms and physical space for the delivery of locative, contextual information” in Interactive Design Courses. For more examples see

Looking Ahead

The EdTech Center is now partnering with some of the Mobile Learning Initiative faculty participants to determine how to expand the initiative. Two faculty members from one department are drafting a proposal for additional funding to provide all faculty in their unit with iPads. The proposal includes examples of case scenarios illustrating ways in which iPads are especially valuable to this department’s faculty. Other departments are also viewing their faculty members’ participation in this initiative as a pilot for effective use of iPads within their disciplines. They, too, plan to seek additional funding.

1 comment
  • James Marko
    James Marko Mike Gonyeau has some great observations from a non-Mac user adapting to the iOS environment.
    "Other than having the window options (close, minimize etc…) on the upper left versus upper right, I have not had any major complications with lower order...  more
    October 27, 2011 - 1 likes this