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Posts Tagged ‘mobile apps’

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®: 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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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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