The iKnow Initiative is a new and exciting change happening at Freed-Hardeman University (FHU). Already gaining national attention, iKnow is an initiative aimed at improving the overall student educational experience using mobile technologies. These technologies consist of Apple MacBooks and either an Apple iPhone or Apple iPod Touch.

Starting in the Fall of 2008, all incoming freshmen and freshman faculty at Freed-Hardeman will be provided the MacBook and their choice of an iPhone or iPod Touch. The purpose of integrating these mobile technologies with the overall educational experience is to enhance instruction, to engage the students more effectively, to prevent the learning process from being a passive-only activity, and to improve learning outcomes, thereby effectively helping our students become life-long learners.

It is important to recognize that the purpose of iKnow is not to place mobile technologies into all student and faculty hands because it is simply available; rather, it is to integrate the mobile devices into the pedagogical and social experiences that students participate in while pursuing their college degree thereby helping achieve the University’s goals..

Certainly classroom usage of the mobile devices can allow for misuse; but, compared to the overall benefits of having the mobile technologies available, the iKnow Initiative benefits outweigh potential misuse. 

The first area of benefits is the iKnow Suite of Applications developed by the iKnow Development Team at Freed-Hardeman. These applications consist of functions as simple as taking class roll to giving online quizzes. 

Below is a brief overview of the iKnow Suite. To Access the iKnow Suite go to http://m.fhu.edu.

Selecting the iKnow link, carries one to the login page where, once authenticated, the student or faculty member will access the iKnow portal. Students and faculty have access to various types of functions and applications. 

A second benefit of iKnow is that the mobile technologies serve as communication tools. The iPhone and iPod touch enhance communication between faculty,  students, and Freed-Hardeman at large:

  • Faculty members are able to extend the classroom beyond the physical limitations of traditional rooms by using the iKnow applications. 
  • A campus-wide emergency alert system called LionAlert is now available to all students. 
  • The Pipeline is an iKnow application that serves as a campus information feed similar to an RSS feed. Content providers can post to the information feed and students can elect to subscribe to any feeds they want. Currently, more than twenty-five (25) feeds are available with the capability to add more. These feeds are Twitter-like in that you can post only 140 characters. Pipeline is intended to be a conduit of burst-able information.

A third benefit of iKnow is the preparation of the student for working in a technology-filled work place. It makes sense to integrate the technology students are using and interested in while using it to enhance the educational experience while at the same time preparing them to be efficient in these pervasive technologies.

 

 

iPhoneCollage.jpg

Twitter was originally released for public use in August 2006 as a way for a few friends to keep up with what each was doing. It very rapidly caught the Web 2.0 wave and became a favorite micro-blogging tool for many Internet users. 

 

Most early tweets were generated mainly by those fondly called “early adopters”, present company included. I began seeing the power of Twitter in October 2007 while sitting in a Starbucks in Seattle and created my account, m_scott. Although none of my friends were tweeting at the time, I set out trying to recruit them. It took several weeks before the first friend became interested enough to join and that is when d_w_scott finally agreed to test Twitter with me. By the Spring of 2008, I had also incorporated it into some of my classes at Freed-Hardeman University. So for those that consider Twitter a waste of time, especially pedagogically, here are examples that will hopefully provide insight into a simple, cool, social, engaging, participatory, Web 2.0 tool.

 

In class I required my students to sign-up for a free Twitter account. The expectations for the class were that each student would tweet at least one current technology news article weekly. No students had used Twitter previously, so the experience was completely new. The student response was mainly positive with many students posting more frequently than required. Several students began using Twitter as a means of communications, sharing class discussions, new technology resources, etc. Overall it allowed the students a chance to learn and experience a new Web 2.0 technology while also allowing more participation which enhanced the students classroom experiences.

 

Here are some links to others using Twitter in a pedagogical setting:

http://web20teach.blogspot.com/2007/08/twitter-tweets-for-higher-education.html

http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/2008/twitter-for-academia/

http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/2699/a-professors-tips-for-using-twitter-in-the-classroom

http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/article/2825/more-on-academic-twittering-breaking-down-the-classroom-walls

http://searchenginewatch.com/3630980

http://clifmims.com/blog/archives/187

http://www.mobile-learning.blog-city.com/using_twitter_in_education__what_the_mlearn_audience_though.htm

http://library.duke.edu/blogs/libraryhacks/2008/06/10/academic-uses-for-twitter/

 

One can use Twitter via the browser or there are many Twitter clients available. My favorite client is TweetDeck as seen below. One really neat thing about TweetDeck is the ability to view a word cloud (tag cloud) of world tweets and immediately know what is happening world-wide that might be news-worthy. Notice the word cloud below, DOW shows up prominently. Well it just so happens there is much tweeting going on about the Dow today, it dropped nearly 500 points, falling to an eleven year low. 

 

TweetDeck-1.png

Feel free to follow my tweets here.

If private tweets interest you more, you should check out Yammer which will limit Tweets to your University or corporation.