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Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Study Smarter on Smartphones & Tablets

January 8th, 2013 by Brady

I love the tingling energy in the air during January class starts. No. I’m not talking about the static build up from that new wool sweater.

It is the silly stories we share from winter break, the new plans we make with friends, and the inevitable comparison of gifts received (or that we purchased for ourselves).

If those gifts included an iPad, iPhone, Android device, Kindle Fire or Nook tablet… CourseSmart’s reader team has another present for you.

CourseSmart Mobile Reader on Google's Nexus 7 tablet

CourseSmart Mobile Reader on Google's Nexus 7 tablet

In December, we quietly improved  CourseSmart’s browser based reader. When accessed on these devices, CourseSmart’s reader will adapt to maximize screen real estate and support common multi-touch gestures like pinch to zoom, swipe to previous or next page, and press to select text to highlight or copy.

Yes. The highlights from your laptop or desktop study sessions will be visible on your smartphone or tablet’s browser.  And, yes. New highlights you make on these mobile devices will be available when you sign in on your laptop or desktop.

Details were announced today at the Consumer Electronic Show. More information is available online at www.coursesmart.com/go/mobile.

Why did we make the browser based reading experience better for mobile devices? Why not focus on the apps available for download from the iTunes App Store or Google Play market?

True. We recently exceeded a half million downloads for our Android, iPhone and iPad applications. However, lots of students and instructors prefer the convenience of CourseSmart’s browser based reading experience.

Smartphones and tablets represented 10.5% of all traffic to CourseSmart’s website in Fall 2012 (up from 5.9% in Fall 2011). That’s over 3.5 million mobile visits — a 5.5x annual increase.

We also realized that there are more than 700 different smartphone and tablet screen types that visit our site each year. Based on announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show, I’m sure we’ll see many more in 2013.

For the computer science majors reading this post, CourseSmart’s mobile reading experience is based on our traditional laptop and desktop code line. We use responsive design techniques to detect operating system as well as screen size, orientation and pixel density. Elastic layouts  are implemented with Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) media queries to maximize screen real estate. And, our specially tuned JavaScript engine does the heavy lifting to support multi-touch gestures.

For the rest of us, the improvements are simply magical.

Stay tuned for more news about our mobile reader.  Throughout 2013, the reader team will apply lessons learned from this project to CourseSmart’s Android and iOS applications. In the interim, let us know what you think of our browser based reader on your favorite mobile device.

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CourseSmart at the Annual Consumer Electronics Show: The Continuing Evolution of Digital Education

January 8th, 2013 by CourseSmart

CES 2013 International Conference

The New Year ushers in a season of resolutions and gym memberships, but also the annual Consumer Electronics Show, hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center each January.

CourseSmart will once again attend CES, with presentations slotted for the main conference as well as the one-day HigherEdTECH Summit. We will be discussing new updates to the CourseSmart mobile experience, as well as our beta pilot of CourseSmart Analytics, which provides faculty and institutions with insight into student usage and engagement with digital course materials.

If you are planning to attend the show, be sure to stop by either of these events:

Tuesday, January 8:
Who: Sean Brady, Director, Product Management, CourseSmart
What: CourseSmart’s Universal Reading System - optimizing the mobile user experience
When: 1:45-2:00pm
Where: Venetian Ballroom, Booth 71121

Thursday, January 10:
Who: Jim Ambach, Senior Vice President, Product Management, CourseSmart
What: The New Math: Is Analytics Adding Up? – a panel discussion about the ability to use educational data in order to support student learning objectives
When: 3:00-4:00pm
Where: LVCC, North Hall N256

For those of you not lucky enough to make the pilgrimage to Techie Mecca, keep your eyes peeled for a couple of exciting announcements from CourseSmart over the coming days.

Happy New Year!

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CourseSmart at WCET Annual Conference: Using Technology to Enhance Higher Education Teaching and Learning

October 31st, 2012 by CourseSmart

wcet-connect

And we thought it would calm down after Back-to-School season…

CourseSmart is firing on all cylinders as we head into the last few months of the year (can it really be November already??) We have two conferences and a handful of big announcements coming up, and we could not be more excited about everything going on around here!

Up next: the WCET Annual Conference, in San Antonio, Texas. For those of you that don’t know about WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies), it is an organization that champions “the adoption of effective practices and policies, advancing excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education”. CourseSmart is privileged to have been a partner of WCET for a number of years, and we can’t wait to see what is in store for this year’s conference!

CourseSmart will participate in quite a few events at the conference, which runs from October 31 – November 3. If you are in town, be sure to stop by and see us!

WCET Tabletop Expo: Thursday, November 1, 10:15-10:45am and 2:45-3:15pm
If you want more information about CourseSmart, please feel free to stop by our table.

“Content for Free Range Learners” Panel Session: Thursday, November 1, 10:45-Noon
Shannon Meadows, CourseSmart SVP of Business Development, will be on a panel discussing digital learning content in all its forms and formats: commercial, open, and faculty/student published content.

“Infrastructure for Digital Integration” Session: Friday, November 2, 9:30-10:45am
Chris Manriquez, CSU Fullerton’s associate vice president and information technology and academic technology officer, will discuss his institution’s digital textbook pilot program.

Buzz Breakfast Session - “Cracking the Code on Digital Course Materials”: Saturday, November 3, 8-9am
Come and chat with us over breakfast! We will be tackling big questions about how to increase student adoption and engagement with digital course materials.

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The Emergence of the “Digital Dorm”

September 17th, 2012 by CourseSmart

Today’s college students reach for their mobile devices to solve almost all of their would-be problems. What’s the score? ESPN. Where should we eat tonight? Yelp. Get a picture of that! Instagram. There is no way that fact is true…Wikipedia.

Increasingly, students turn to mobile applications in order save time and money, especially on things like textbooks. According to a recent Wakefield study, an astounding 92% of students believe that technology like e-readers, textbooks, mobile devices and tablets can help save their time with studying and learning.

The “digital dorm” is transforming the way students study, and we love being a part of it!

The Digital Dorm

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CourseSmart Welcomes Apple to the Party!

January 20th, 2012 by CourseSmart

In response to Apple’s announcement yesterday regarding their entry into the eTextbook market, we at CourseSmart, as industry leaders, would like to welcome them to the party! With the explosion in popularity of eTexts over the past year, it’s certainly no surprise that Apple would want to make a late entry into the market.

Here are our initial thoughts:

We’re pleased about the impact Apple’s statement has made on the way people view the act of accessing educational course materials today. Any announcement which brings more awareness to digital course materials is good for students, and will help move the industry forward. However, yesterday’s Apple offerings left us with more questions than answers.

Here are our initial questions:

Are the apps only available for the iPad or will Apple become “device agnostic?” According to Student Monitor data that was released yesterday, only 9% of Higher Education students own an iPad. Although we do not know, we assume the number may be even lower for the K-12 market due to the price of an iPad. What about the millions of cash-strapped students who already own an Android device, a Kindle Fire or a Nook? Unless Apple intends to offer on other devices, the market will be underserved. CourseSmart was the first to develop an iPhone app, Android app, and Web app that allows even Kindle Fire & Nook owners to access CourseSmart eTexts through their very own device.

Who is developing the content? The new iBooks Author app allows users to create and publish books for the iPad by dragging and resizing images and text, adding definitions, movies, and 3D objects. Apple stated that anyone with JavaScript or HTML5 skills can make their eText interactive. We doubt that faculty will be easily convinced to create their own content when they have hundreds of papers to grade and have to learn JavaScript or HTML5 in order to incorporate interactivity. In fact, the best and most trusted content is created by publishers in partnership with authors.

Will using iBooks 2 offer improved learning outcomes? While it’s great to see Apple providing many parity features that CourseSmart and other providers already offer, iBooks 2 isn’t really reinventing textbooks. Our publishers already have, with “eResources” which are much more advanced technologically. CourseSmart has the largest catalog of eResources from all the major publishers, who have partnered with the most credible authors. Interactivity is cool and interesting, but only if connected to improving student learning outcomes.

The development and consumption of digital content is well underway. Though Apple’s late entry to the market was not entirely unexpected, its impact on learning remains yet to be proven. CourseSmart, founded in 2007, is the world’s largest provider of digital content. Our catalog includes over 90% of the textbooks in use today. CourseSmart customers enjoy anytime, anywhere access. We look forward to the future of the digital publishing industry, and we’re eager to continue to be the market leader for our millions of student, faculty and institutional users.

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CourseSmart® Study Reveals Telling Link Between Communication and Study Preferences of High School and College Students to Future College Classroom Landscape

September 20th, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart®, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, released the results of a proprietary research study exploring the effects of technology dependency on learning preferences for today’s high school and college students. The CourseSmart-commissioned study, which was conducted by AMP Insights, the strategic planning and consumer insights group at AMP Agency, compared 503 current high school and 515 current college-aged students to understand their device and platform adoption rates as well as attitudes, stressors and preferences, offering a telling window into the current and future learning habits of students.

Among the findings, the study supports the idea that today’s tech savvy students want stimulating experiences and seek thought-provoking and interactive learning environments. Technology plays an integral role in providing students with an interactive classroom experience with 76 percent of high school students and 79 percent of college students claiming they would find it appealing if a college offered a classroom experience where they can ask professors questions in class through Twitter or another social networking site.

Personal preferences are not the only factors that play into how students view the growing role of technology inside the college classroom - the perceived popularity of and the costs associated with digital course materials are also important. The study finds that students are worried about the financial stresses of their college education at a younger age, with 13 percent of high school students claiming they began looking into financing their college education in junior high as opposed to 6 percent of college students who claim to have done the same. Financial fears could also deter conventional study habits, paving the way for increased usage of digital course materials: 63 percent of college students think eTextbooks are less expensive than traditional textbooks.

“As financial concerns affect students at earlier ages, the value and importance they place on a college education is at a new premium, especially when it comes to course materials and other associated items which they can control,” said CourseSmart Chief Marketing Officer Jill Ambrose. “Many students view eTextbooks as a money-saver, and are increasingly willing and more likely to invest in a tablet or other device that allows them to maximize their budget for the duration of their college experience.”

Unsurprisingly, the study also found that the majority (52 percent) of college students use an Android™-based smartphone or iPhone® device for which CourseSmart has free downloadable applications. In comparison, 31 percent of high school students use an Android-based smartphone or iPhone. Ownership of tablet computers among high school and college students is still relatively low compared to smartphone ownership; however, the percentage of students that own a tablet is still impressive: 20 percent of high school students have a tablet computer compared with 24 percent of college students who own them. While the majority of college students (68 percent) continue to only use hard copy textbooks, 65 percent of college students are open to the idea of using eTextbooks. High school students shared the same sentiment, with 64 percent being open to using eTextbooks.

“The gap between study preferences and habits between high school and college students is closing,” Ambrose continued. “High school students are increasingly open to and expecting the same types of interactive learning materials that college students have already been exposed to, and both groups are constantly looking ahead and embracing the future that is eTextbooks and digital course materials.”

CourseSmart will issue a formal white paper that captures full study findings this fall. To learn more about CourseSmart, including the latest company news and innovations, please visit: www.coursesmart.com.

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CourseSmart®: Helping Students Shop for eTextbooks via Facebook

August 23rd, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart®, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and other digital resources, recently launched its latest innovation: a social commerce shopping experience that will allow students to rent CourseSmart materials directly from the brand’s official Facebook page.Facebook Shop Image

Students will be able to access CourseSmart’s catalog of eTextbooks and eResources directly on Facebook through a secure shopping cart and tab on the brand’s page. Shopping within the tab, students will be able to search for eTextbooks by title, ISBN number or keyword and then add the items to their cart. When ready to checkout, students will be linked directly to secure checkout at Coursesmart.com.

“CourseSmart has always made it a priority to provide students with the course materials they need in the most convenient way possible, and our new Facebook experience is the latest breakthrough in that arena,” said Jill Ambrose, chief marketing officer at CourseSmart. “We are excited to provide accessibility to more than 20,000 of the latest eTextbook offerings to college students where they already spend time, on their favorite social networking site.”

With so many college students already on Facebook, using the social network for social commerce was a natural transition for CourseSmart. This new Facebook feature is the latest in a series of industry firsts for the brand, which launched a beta version of its first-to-market HTML5 eReader earlier this summer, allowing users to access CourseSmart materials online and offline.

To purchase eTextbooks via Facebook or for more information on CourseSmart’s new social commerce tab visit www.facebook.com/CourseSmart.

Facebook Shop Search Page

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CourseSmart Unleashes Industry’s First HTML5 Reader

July 21st, 2011 by CourseSmart

Today CourseSmart® announced the beta launch of its newest reader platform providing users with online, offline, anything, anywhere access to their eTextbooks. The first in the industry to utilize HTML5 technology for eTextbooks and coupled with the latest version of Mozilla Firefox 5.0, this cloud-based offering now provides the same productivity features whether users are online or offline.

“CourseSmart’s use of ground-breaking technology and our innovative approach further demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing students and faculty with extraordinary access to affordable, outcome-oriented digital course materials,” said Sean Devine, CEO at CourseSmart. “Eliminating the necessity for users to make a choice between online and offline access is a significant step forward in our goal of providing students and faculty access to digital course materials from any device, anywhere.”

Students who have active online eTextbook digital rental access will immediately enjoy the benefits of the new offline capabilities. Additionally, instructor textbook evaluation services will also be available on the new reader platform, allowing instructors free access to evaluate more than 90 percent of all core higher education eTextbooks whether online or offline. The new reader experience also extends to CourseSmart’s productivity tools allowing users to highlight, search, copy, paste, take notes, share and print while offline. The platform synchronizes user notes across all modals, whether it is from their desktop computer, laptop, iPad®, iPhone®, iPod Touch®, Android™-based device, or any Web-enabled device.

A full list of features for the new reader is available here. And, just in time for back-to-school, try the new reader with a book you need for this semester at http://www.coursesmart.com/go/freetrial.

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Are Mobile “Classroom” Apps the Future of Collegiate Learning?

May 19th, 2011 by CourseSmart

In an effort to make higher education available to all types of students, some universities are launching mobile classroom extensions via an iPhone/iPad app, thereby making access to extended course materials, classroom discussions and assignments more flexible for the non-traditional student. While many students feel these mobile apps enhance their ability to learn, detractors believe a mobile app dilutes the value of education.

A widely known, for-profit university that has seen great success with the mobile app, is quick to call the experience an extension of the online classroom, making the learning experience flexible for its large population of online students. For a university founded on providing secondary education that meets the needs of non-traditional students, the mobile app benefits its intended market and increases the flexibility of the curriculum. Bringing the classroom to a mobile device also increases accessibility and reaches a greater number of students.

Those who challenge the idea of a mobile app “classroom” are quick to comment on the degradation of the learning process and the “on-the-go” perception a mobile app creates, arguing that universities who use them are diluting the value of a traditional college education. They also argue that learning designed to take place via a mobile app places little value on the focus and interaction required for a robust educational experience. They further insist that long-term retention of knowledge is closely linked to studying from physical materials, and an app removes the acute attention normally needed when learning from physical course materials or participating in face-to-face discussions.

The role of technology in the learning process continues to evolve, but at a seemingly much slower rate than that of the college student. And, with college students’ growing need for flexibility and mobility in their educational experiences, a “classroom” mobile app just may be the future of learning.

Are you a student who uses a mobile app? How has the app changed your classroom/learning experience? Faculty, would you like your university to introduce a mobile app for online course offerings?

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The Student’s Wireless Chain

May 13th, 2011 by CourseSmart

After reading Joshua Kim’s Technology and Learning blog post titled “The Wireless Chain,” I faced the realization that until I read this blog post, I had never really examined my own wireless chain, or my constant connectedness to the internet, email, or even textbooks and online courses. It occurred to me that while this chain might not be crucial to me, there are hundreds of thousands of students who count on the strength and reliability of a wireless chain.

For those not familiar with the term “wireless chain”, Kim describes it as “the degree to which a person can move from place-to-place with uninterrupted access to wireless Internet.” For a college student, this chain can include wireless access available across college campuses, bookstores, coffee shops, dorm rooms, off-campus apartments, and any place in between. And, access to a continuous chain is vital for a student’s productivity as much as it would be for a business traveler, especially with coursework, studying, writing and reading sometimes all requiring constant access to materials online. Unlike me, the continuous nature of a college student’s wireless chain might be so ingrained in their lifestyle, that they hardly notice its existence until there is a failure or interruption in the chain. Just ask any student who struggles to connect to Blackboard via an overloaded campus wireless network.

It’s hard to ignore the importance of a wireless chain with the existence of laptops, Smartphones, and now tablet devices, and while a college student might not always be conscious of its existence, it shouldn’t diminish the need for college campuses and even businesses around campuses to create a seamless wireless chain.

If you are a college student, have you ever thought about how many links are in your wireless chain? Are there places you would choose to add more links to your chain?

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