In a recent panel discussion of a group of education experts in New York, most cited that “Colleges and universities must continue to embrace technology and new ways of teaching if they hope to engage students”. The panel included James E. Ryan, the dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

A couple of well known and basic themes arose during the discussions. Students these days are born with technology expectations embedded in their daily lives. These students are born with a “mobile first” mentality, expect to communicate with the world around them via technology and carry these expectations into the classrooms.

If educators are to keep up with the times and to engage with their students more, the only way to do so is to tranform their practice into a digital classroom. This involves “more interaction, conversation, problem-based lessons, and project-based learning” the panel mentioned.

While some of these digital transformations call for a “boil the ocean” approach, what can an educator do for quick wins? Faculty members at the dermatology department of Mt Sinai answered this question via a simple mobile app (go ahead and play with the screens on this page – click on the screens and get a real life experience of how the app works).

The basic idea was to allow students “carry” their education with them on their mobile phones via a simple app. The mobile app simply presents students with a series of questions on various topics of interest and importance. Students can take the quiz on any topic, search for and research various topics at their leisure, on the subway, while watching TV.. anytime, anyplace.

Faculty members created a basic question bank to begin with. Over time, they expect to continue adding more questions, quizzes and supportive documentation to the mobile app via a web portal. Students can also participate in friendly competitions against their fellow classmates. This gamification aspect of taking quizzes to further their education has a vast impact their self learning process. Faculty members, on the other hand, can hereafter expect their students to have learnt the basics and concentrate on teaching their students more advanced topics.

Can this help you and your students? Let us know what you think.