The University of Southern California has added a mobile component to its Web-based courses. Students who are taking online classes toward master's degrees in social work or education can now use smartphones or tablets to stay on top of their work.
To do so, they have to download an application created by 2tor, an educational software provider that also works with online programs at Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina.
Julie Row is working on a master's in social work at USC from her home in New Jersey. Most days, she uses the mobile app on her Android phone once or twice to check in and keep up with classes.
That's about on par with how other students use the app, 2tor officials said. Nearly half of the social-work students at USC who downloaded the software use it 10 times per month for more than five minutes at a time; about a quarter of the education students have done the same.
"I'll go to the phone last-minute," Row said, "when it's useful to see whether the professor has posted information like class materials. If there's multimedia material [such as a PowerPoint presentation or video clip], then I prefer not to use my phone, because my battery tends to run out if I do." Instead, she views that kind of content on her laptop.
Paul Maiden, vice dean for USC's School of Social Work, said, "I do not think online will eliminate bricks and mortar." Instead, he said, he expects it to extend the school's reach.
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.