Mobile Learning advances in K-12 with ACU's Leadership of Digital Learning Program

Posted May 06, 2010

ACU and EmbanetAbilene Christian University continues to advance mobile learning as ACU Online and Embanet announce the launch of the Leadership of Digital Learning program, a graduate certificate designed to produce innovative K-12 leaders for the 21st century classroom.

The graduate program begins May 3, 2010, with students able to start the program every eight weeks. As part of a research case study, each student will be provided with a 3G-enabled Apple iPad, connected to new learning applications embedded in the curriculum.

"The program is designed for forward-thinking teachers and administrators who envision an innovative future for education," says Gary Tucker, director of ACU Online. "Our goal is to help our students become driving forces for new digital initiatives in their schools. With the expertise they gain in this area, they can ensure their plans are successfully designed, deployed, measured, budgeted and funded. These educators will be the thought-leaders in their communities. They will be the ones who identify the opportunities in their schools, and they will also be catalysts for change."

The impetus for The Leadership of Digital Learning program was the Texas Association of School Administrators' May 2008 document, Creating A New Vision for Public Education in Texas, which specifically addresses the future of education.

"What is needed to design and lead schools for the 21st century is a leader who understands the nature of change in the world that is fundamentally driven by the disruptive innovations of technology," says Dr. Steve Waddell, superintendent of Birdville ISD and contributor to the New Vision document. "This change is creating a new definition of society the understanding of which will be critical for our students and community as they live and work well in this bold and exciting century. ACU is the first university to understand that we need a new kind of leader to create these schools and that universities must innovate and change what they do to provide them."

The Leadership of Digital Learning program will prepare leaders to:

  • Lead digital learning initiatives that add value for all students
  •  Implement strategies and techniques to promote system-wide change
  • Equip individuals and groups to positively respond to emerging digital learning innovations within their school(s)
  • Use strategies for optimizing existing and emerging digital learning systems

The Leadership of Digital Learning program enables students to innovate using educational technologies. Course materials, textbooks, and learning modules will be provided digitally to students via Apple's iPad. With the option of connecting to a 3G data network, students will have a device that links them to their content, classmates, and professors anytime/anywhere, regardless of their physical location.

"If we look at how students of today use mobile devices, we see a fundamental shift in how they perceive computing," says George Saltsman, director of ACU's Adams Center for Teaching and Learning. "To most teachers, computing is still an activity confined to a location. To our students, computing is an ecosystem. They live within it. As educators, we must learn how to equip our students to thrive educationally in that environment."

"Embanet works to push the envelope with our partners in terms of what can be done with educational technology," says Paul Gleason, senior vice president Educational Operations, Embanet Corporation. "Building on the foundation of the qualitative studies ACU has published on mobile learning, we will conduct studies on perception changes as well as how distance learning changes with this type of connectivity. As an innovator in online learning ourselves, we are excited to be partnering with ACU and helping prepare the leaders of tomorrow."


About ACU

After a decade of considering what it means to read, write, publish, teach, and learn in the digital age, Abilene Christian University launched a first-in-the-world mobile learning initiative in 2008. The initiative creates opportunities for students and faculty to experiment with new forms of social, informational, and media access on next-generation digital platforms including the iPad, on which The Optimist, ACU’s student-run newspaper became available on April 6, 2010. Six days later Abilene Christian University, Cambridge University Press and Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs announced a three-year joint research project whose intent is to set out a new path towards the future of publishing - from creation through distribution - by putting tools that enhance education in the hands of individuals. In 2009, the New Media Consortium named ACU a Center of Excellence for its mobile-learning program. Also in 2009, Forbes magazine rated ACU in the top seven percent of colleges and universities in the USA. Some 4,800 students attend ACU, including 900 graduate students, from 49 states and provinces, and about 40 nations.   For more information, visit ACU Online, the ACU website, and ACU's mobile learning website.


About Embanet, ULC

Founded in 1995, Embanet is the world leader in providing a full range of online learning services to postsecondary educational institutions. Embanet preserves academic integrity and maximizes student enrollment and graduation by providing capital and expertise in program development, marketing and enrollment, student services and technology support. Headquartered in Toronto and Chicago, the company will soon open a Los Angeles office to provide local and onsite service to its growing number of west coast partner institutions. Embanet serves over 50 colleges and universities, including many top research institutions such as: Vanderbilt University, University of Southern California, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, Boston University, George Washington University, Northeastern University, Ohio University, and Kent State University.


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