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Posts Tagged ‘mobile device’

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

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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Evaluation Made Easy for Instructors

April 4th, 2012 by CourseSmart

Compare Side-By-Side eTextbooks

Compare Side-By-Side eTextbooks

Attention Instructors: Did you know that CourseSmart has a new Table of Contents side-by-side comparison feature? Long over are the days when you had to set two or more print textbooks side-by-side and compare TOC’s. CourseSmart makes comparison easy, by allowing you to pull up one etextbook from “Publisher A” alongside another etextbook from “Publisher B.” You can see in one view which order of information you prefer for your teaching methods, thus allowing you to make an informed etextbook decision for your class.
CourseSmart has over 20,000 digital etextbooks in our arsenal, and over 90% of the core textbooks used in Higher Education today. That means the liklihood that we have the eTextbook you’re looking for is quite high.
To use this feature, search for a textbook you’re interested in viewing. Then, click the “compare” button. Next, use the search button to locate a title to compare. The description for both books and the Table of Contents for both books are now side-by-side for you to see.
Making eTextbook adoption decisions has never been easier. To see this new feature in action, here’s a short YouTube video:

Video on Side-By-Side TOC Comparison


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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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CourseSmart Launches the First eTextbook Application for Android Devices

April 20th, 2011 by CourseSmart

CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, further expanded its mobile footprint today with the launch of CourseSmart for Android 1.0, a mobile application specifically designed for the Android Operating System (AOS). Students and faculty across the country can now access all of their eTextbooks on their AOS-enabled smart phones, netbooks and tablets.

“Increasing demand for mobile access to eTextbooks coupled with the exponential growth of Android-run devices has led to record numbers of students and faculty embracing mobile devices across their institutions,” said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart. “The Android application is another example of the importance of our device-agnostic mobile strategy, ensuring all students and faculty can enjoy a superior eTextbook experience on devices they choose to own.”

CourseSmart for Android 1.0 leverages the unique capabilities of the devices running the AOS to provide a truly advanced eTextbook experience, including the ability to:

  • Search for a topic within a single book or across an entire eTextbook stack and access the table of contents;
  • Zoom in on text and graphs;
  • Scroll through or jump to individual pages;
  • Read eTextbooks in landscape or portrait mode;
  • View, add and edit text notes.
  • Enjoy anytime, anywhere access to 90 percent of all core higher education textbooks in use today; and
  • Shop for additional books at up to 60 percent off using a specialized AOS version of CourseSmart’s website

Compatible with the most popular Android-run devices, including the Motorola Droid, Samsung Fascinate, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC Droid Eris, HTC myTouch 3G Slider, HTC Evo and Samsung Galaxy 7, the first Android tablet, the application has been extensively tested by students and faculty prior to release.

“The App was very easy to use and figure out. The layout and organization was well thought out and simple. I love that I can now access my books from anywhere,” said Carlisa Mikels, Bachelor of Science in Psychology Candidate at the University of Houston-Victoria.

“Knowing that the App is built for phones and tablets, I was impressed. It was easier to select books, and they displayed nicely in the Galaxy Tab,” said Pete Rottier, Center for eLearning Instructor at Cleveland State University.

The CourseSmart for Android application is available for free from the Android Market and can be accessed at Additionally, in an effort to protect the student, faculty and institutional users of our App, CourseSmart’s mobile privacy policy has been certified by TRUSTe.

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CourseSmart Partners with University of Michigan

March 8th, 2011 by CourseSmart

Students and Faculty will have Seamless Access to their Assigned Digital Course Materials through University’s Sakai-based Learning Management System

SAN MATEO, Calif., March 8, 2011 — CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, today announced that the University of Michigan will be testing eTextbooks as a means to improving student performance by integrating eTextbooks directly into the workspace that students use to take their course. The pilot program will integrate CourseSmart’s eTextbooks with all other course materials within their existing campus Learning Management System, cTools, allowing faculty and students the ability to conveniently access everything they need for their course in one place.

Creating a single education work-flow, the Spring pilot program includes five courses/instructors and nearly 200 students who can now use cTools, the University’s Sakai-based LMS, to access their eTextbooks as well as course assignments, homework, syllabus, class calendar and instructor/peer communications.

“As a large, forward-thinking public university, we continue to look for new ways to improve the learning environment for our faculty and students,” said Susan Hollar, Curriculum Integration Coordinator for the University of Michigan Library. “We are evaluating the pilot program and will make recommendations regarding campus directions for e-textbooks. We want to help our campus make informed decisions about new technology tools.”

In addition to providing University of Michigan with eTextbooks and digital course materials, CourseSmart handled the technical integration and distribution of the program. Using an LTI standards-based integration, the university will enjoy a single sign-on process that integrates the prepopulated eTextbook bookshelf directly into the campus LMS.

“Since CourseSmart has adopted Basic LTI as a standard for operating with platforms like the Sakai LMS, integration was able to be accomplished with minimal effort on both sides,” said Chuck Severance, Clinical Associate Professor, School of Information at the University of Michigan. “We value partners who are able to take a standards-based approach which enables us to produce desired results with minimal investments.”

“CourseSmart is quickly becoming the industry leader in LTI-based systems integration as universities across the country continue to realize the significant benefits of incorporating eTextbooks into their learning management systems,” said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart. “University of Michigan is a great example of the campus innovation that is taking place nationwide as students and faculty continue to demand an integrated workflow and take advantage of the savings, convenience and efficiencies of eTextbooks.”

CourseSmart offers the world’s largest catalogue of digital course materials, as well as the following eTextbook benefits:  

  • Anytime, anywhere access to materials via or through any web-enabled mobile device or tablet, including specific Apps for the iPhone and iPad;
  • Search function for topics within a single book or across an entire eTextbook stack;
  • Highlighting and note-taking capabilities within the eTextbook, which can be easily recalled or searched;
  • Page fidelity and preservation, mirroring the print edition’s page numbers, full text, diagrams, illustrations and charts;
  • Ability to cut and paste as well as email sections, notes and highlighted text;
  • The choice to print only what one needs;
  • Savings of up to 60% for students; and
  • 80% of CourseSmart’s top selling titles have been optimized to be more accessible for students and instructors with print-related disabilities.

 For more information, visit, and click the Institutions link.

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Tech Geeks Rejoice! How Going Tech Can Save You Money.

February 25th, 2011 by CourseSmart

This week, Zack Whittaker posted on his iGeneration blog on with some techy ways to save money at college. His blog brings up some great, and potentially overlooked, ways technology can be helping you save money while at college. We wanted to share some of the finer points with you.


“Invest in a smartphone with a good data plan”

We couldn’t agree more! Whittaker sites a phone with features like a decent camera and music player can be just as important as having access to all of your social media profiles. Ditching an mp3 player for you phone is a great way to free up space in your backpack and save you money. A smartphone with mobile web can also give you quick access to etextbooks, a notepad or voice recorder app to help you jot down some short notes, and email access to help you stay in touch with classmates.


“E-books are often cheaper than their paper equivalent”

While the cost savings associated with etextbooks can be huge (with CourseSmart you can save up to 60% on etextbooks over print textbooks), Whittaker points out another awesome feature of etextbooks– instant access from anywhere. Etextbooks can be accessed via smartphone/tablet apps or simply on the internet. No more “I forgot my book” or breaking your back on a bulging bag.  


“Netbooks are easier on your wallet”

It seems you can read any tech news sites or blogs without hearing about the latest and greatest tablets from a variety of manufacturers. In the flurry of wanting the newest gadget, students might not be considering what the best option is: tablet, laptop or netbook. Whittaker poses a valid point; netbooks are much less expensive than tablets and are capable of doing everything a student might need. And, most netbooks are only slightly thicker than tablets making them friendly on your backpack as well.


These are only a few points from Whittaker’s iGeneration post, so check out the full article for more ways going tech can save you money in college. Do you have any special tech tips to save money?

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BlackBerry PlayBook creates real competition for Apple iPad

February 7th, 2011 by CourseSmart

After the flux of tablets debuted at the consumer electronics show just one month ago, I was surprised to recently find a tablet I had not yet become familiar with; the Blackberry PlayBook. Of course, the first thing that came to mind “Is this going to be the iPad killer everyone’s been expecting?”


Doing more research, I found that the functionality of the Blackberry PlayBook is very similar to that of the iPad. Where the PlayBook differs is where it may have the most impact on college students. First and foremost PlayBook supports Adobe Flash. For anyone who’s tried to watch a Flash video or access any Flash content on the iPad you already know the frustration. PlayBook’s ability to give users a full web experience means never missing content, viewing videos on class websites, opening embedded documents, and maybe being able to view a cool Flash site, or play a game in your off time between classes.


Another feature of the PlayBook that really caught my eye is the ability to wirelessly tether the tablet to a BlackBerry. With a Bluetooth connection, you can access anything on your phone through the tablet. Using the Bluetooth connection, you can sync all of the information you enter on your phone with your tablet, and vice versa. When I’m running out of class I can quickly enter homework assignments and important dates on my phone and have it all sync up with my PlayBook without duplicating anything. You can even access the BBM on your phone using the PlayBook, so you can still message all of your friends.


These two features will help set the BlackBerry PlayBook apart from the iPad. Sadly, Research in Motion has delayed the release of the PlayBook, originally scheduled for March 2011, and now rescheduled for May 2011.


With most campuses encouraging or sponsoring the use of the iPad for classwork and for reading digital textbooks, do you think the PlayBook has the ability to kill the iPad? Which tablet would you choose?


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Getting the Most from Your Tablet

January 6th, 2011 by CourseSmart

So, you got a tablet this holiday, and you can’t wait to take it back to school. While access to email, Facebook, and endless amounts of games are great, how can you really get the most of your new gadget this semester? Well, we’ve got a few tips to help you get the most from your device, and keep you at the top of your class.

Don’t judge a tablet by its cover.

Having a cool case for your tablet not only protects the device, but also serves as an extension of your personality. Companies like InCase offer cases in a variety of colors, materials and even patterns. But, why not make your case work a little harder? Cases with integrated Bluetooth keyboards are now hitting the market. Kensington recently released the KeyFolio for iPad, and Brando followed suit with a Bluetooth keyboard folio for the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Keep organized and carry on.

Coursework can get overwhelming very quickly if you aren’t prepared for the onslaught of essays, exams, projects and presentations. Keep your school life, and personal life organized by taking advantage of your tablets built-in calendar app. Color-coding classes, or projects, setting reminders and alerts will help keep you on top of everything happening this semester. Need some heavy duty organization? Check out web-based calendars like Google Calendar or Mozilla Sunbird. Both calendars offer the ability to create a highly organized calendar with the added bonus of being available to you anytime, anywhere on any web accessible device. A newer player in the organization game is Scrybe. Scrybe is a web-based organizer that offers all of the functions of a regular online calendar plus, thought-sharing, list building and research assistance. Perfect for those team projects you will be tackling this semester!

Ditch the paper! Save your back and the environment.

Try something new this semester by purchasing eTextbooks instead of the old print versions. Not only are you eliminating the need to carry around those heavy textbooks, but you are also being green and saving some trees. Taking advantage of apps like CourseSmart’s new iPad app lets you view your textbook anytime, anywhere, and can save you some money as well. With features like highlighting, searching and printing, you can still mark up and even have print copies of the info you need most. Just grab your tablet as you head off to class for the day, and you’ve got all of your textbooks in one, easy to carry place!


Never miss a detail.

Once you’ve gotten your hands on a case with a keyboard and your eTextbooks loaded, you’re ready to tap out class notes like a pro, right? Well, even the pros could use a little help once in a while. If you decide to go paperless with your tablet this semester using a note taking or highlighting app can help you keep all of your class notes in order without having to carry around loads of binders or notebooks. New apps like Note Hub allow you to view multiple items at once, and you can even mark them up and take notes on them. You can easily view a textbook, notepad and calculator on one screen so you can tackle that crazy stats homework. You can even adjust the size of the items making the textbook larger so you can read the text, while still being able to use the calculator and write things down. Don’t let note taking for web research get you down. Many browsers now have compatible web highlighter add-ins that allow you to create persistent highlights, add sticky notes, and even share your highlights with friends.


Now that we’ve got you started with some tips to help you get the most out of your tablet (and your education) this semester, you’ll be taking better notes, studying smarter and saving a ton of time.

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