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OIT showcases technology

Ben Horvath | Friday, September 28, 2012

Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) hosted the Mobile Summit, an event designed to showcase the University’s technological capabilities, gain student and faculty perspectives and inform people on the expanding use of technology on campus Wednesday. The event, which took place in the Eck Hall of Law, featured panels, addresses from students and faculty and seminars about mobile technology on campus, according to the event’s website.  

English professor Elliot Visconsi said students’ mobile devices have the capability to change their classroom experience.

“These devices allow for students to be more hands on,” Visconsi said. “Students now have the ability to create rather than just receive information.”

Visconsi said mobile devices, like the iPad, allow for collaboration among students.

“If I wanted a student to come listen to me read a script or give a lecture I would give a podcast, and that’s not interesting,” Visconsi said. “I think of my courses as a seminar, a discussion enhancement.”

Visconsi said mobile devices have the ability to foster this discussion, even in a large classroom setting.

“Mobile devices have the ability to make large classes small,” Visconsi said.

Visconsi said he believes the iPad is one of the best educational tools and hopes it will be come costly enough for every student and faculty member to possess one on campus.

Visconsi said he is in the midst of developing a class that features the use of the popular tablet device at the center of the learning experience.

“The challenge will be getting faculty and students to understand what is distinctive about the device and how it can change their experience,” Visconsi said.

Academic Technologies Consultant Jon Crutchfield said he did not anticipate the recent boom in mobile technology.

“Ten years ago not many people had a cell phone, now you have a device that is a very powerful computer that can access data sources, GPS, and the Internet all in your pocket,” Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield said following the first Mobile Summit in 2009, OIT decided to focus their resources on two main areas of technology: mobile and video.

“I think we’ve chosen wisely,” Crutchfield said. “These two areas have grown exponentially in the past years, and will continue to evolve.”

Crutchfield said OIT has created convenient tools for students’ mobile devices, which include the creation of “m.nd.edu” (a mobile version of nd.edu), which allow students to access features like campus maps, dining hall menus, grades and other resources on their mobile devices.

Crutchfield said, along with mobile and video, OIT will focus on collaboration.

“There are so many tools now that allow for students to collaborate in real time on a document,” Crutchfield said. “We just expanded the use of Google, instituted Box (a cloud collaboration program), and are working to make programs like Sakai more mobile friendly.”
Crutchfield said there is a renewed interest in communicating these new capabilities to students and faculty, which is one purpose of the Mobile Summit.

 “A lot of people just aren’t aware of these things,” Crutchfield said. “We need an emphasis on how we can we inform students of what we have, and then help them take advantage of those things.”

Crutchfield said this event is a good venue to bring faculty and students together to discuss the rapidly changing world of mobile devices.

“The Mobile Summit allows for us to learn how people are using their devices, synthesize this information, and deliver more and better services,” Crutchfield said.

Contact Ben Horvath at