Academic Outreach

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Mobile-Friendly Course Hacks

Posted on: October 26th, 2015 by Patricia O'Sullivan

According to a recent study by McGraw-Hill Education, 81 percent of students use their smartphones and tablets to study. These findings, along with those highlighted from the study below, mean that higher education instructors are faced with both a challenge and an opportunity. The opportunity is to improve student outcomes and retention by integrating into our classrooms the technologies students grew up with and are most comfortable using. The challenge is figuring out which types of technology to use and how to use them effectively.

Here are two very simple things every college instructor, even the most technologically challenged, can do to make course content mobile-friendly.

1) Save your Word and PowerPoint slide sets as PDFs rather than in the default setting. Why? Because most phones and tablets can read and display a PDF document, but cannot read and display PowerPoint or Word documents. How do you save something as a PDF? When you go to save your document, choose ‘Save as’ rather than ‘Save’. After deciding where to save the document, a box will pop up asking you what to name the file. Below the File Name prompt is one that reads: ‘Save as type’. You should see PowerPoint Presentation or Word as the default type setting. If you click on the down arrow to the right, you’ll be given over two dozen other choices. Choose PDF and click save. Now your students can view this content on their phones and tablets!

2) Upload your videos to YouTube. If you’ve made your own videos either by filming yourself lecturing with a webcam or by converting slide sets into a video format, it is much easier for students to view this content if you save the videos to YouTube, which interfaces easily with smart phones and tablets. Another benefit to uploading your videos to YouTube is that you can easily add captions to them, which is required by law for all classroom video content, regardless of the disability status of your students.