Educators are continually torn by their love/hate relationship with technology in the classroom. On one hand, technical gadgets are perceived as the end of face-to-face interaction. On the other, tech tools make higher education more readily available than ever before. Blended learning is not about choosing sides; it's about combining efforts to enhance the learning experience. With the ever-increasing number of college students enrolling in online courses, finding ways to incorporate personal tech devices in the classroom is an education prerequisite.

In college settings, both online and off, teachers can turn to apps and mobile devices to transform the blended learning experience into an enhanced virtual classroom where engagement, collaboration and study tools are only a click away. Instead of reinventing the wheel with new lesson plans and programs, a whole host of apps are available that can be used to complement the current curriculum.

Manage Student Engagement

Yes, technology can be a huge distraction in the classroom, but banning devices puts you at a disadvantage. Instead, leverage teaching power with tools that encourage student engagement. Schoology's collaborative educational environment not only nurtures information sharing but also helps students develop stronger critical thinking and technical skills, better preparing them for the rapidly changing professional world.1 The program consists of a centralized learning management system that houses all aspects of online education into one user-friendly interface.

Using the system, educators take the reins to increase overall engagement and class participation. Offering a platform for customized course websites, teachers and professors can use the personalized portal to manage all aspects of learning success, including workload monitoring to ensure students never feel overwhelmed. The system fosters open communication through system-wide announcements for posting events, homework assignment due dates, and test reminders.

Encourage Peer Interaction

For many students, going to school is a balancing act. The overwhelming struggle to keep up with work and family, combined with homework deadlines and studying create difficulty maintaining focus. But without classroom collaboration, the advantages of schedule flexibility may seem to outweigh the benefits. The gap in accountability increases when students lack peer support and group collaboration opportunities.

That's where technology can help. The popular video calling app, Skype, has been around for some time but it is quickly becoming a preferred method of group video calling among students. The program allows up to 10 students to participate in one call. Students can easily connect with multiple peers without the worries of geographical boundaries. This means students can get together for study groups, homework collaboration, and even classroom discussions from anywhere and at anytime. Get creative with it. Imagine implementing group pop-quizzes that encourage students to come together spontaneously. To enhance the experience, students can easily share notes through file sharing and even share screen views.

As an administrator, you can use Skype as a way of enforcing open door policies through virtual office hours or get involved in student study sessions to provide added instruction and guidance.

Create Positive Study Habits

Students with limited time to study can rely on mobile devices to learn on the go. Everything your pupils need to excel in class can be synchronized with their mobile devices. The key to success is making it as easy as possible to study during work breaks, after the kids go to bed, or while taking public transportation. Guiding them to tools like Evernote Peek replaces the daunting task of remembering notebooks, uploading and saving files, and creating study guides. The app works by turning an iPad into a digital flashcard system using Apple's Smart Cover.

Students will be more engaged and are more likely to retain information by creating their own study guides within the system. The tool enables pupils to input information in various formats including video, audio, images, and text. Should a student ever forget or misplace his or her notes or lose computer files, Evernote securely stores information that is readily accessible from anywhere, on any device.

Do you like these apps? Are there any others that you find helpful in a blended learning enviornment? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.

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