In 2009, Doug Rowlett, director of educational technology services at Houston Community College's (HCC) Southwest College, applied for and received a $100,000 grant to pilot emerging digital tools in classrooms.
purchased 100 Kindle e-book readers, 35 iPads, and 30 dual-screen tablet/e-book readers from a now-defunct manufacturer.
The Kindles-used primarily in English classes-did not change instructors' teaching styles, but students who switched to electronic books saved money, not to mention their backs, by eliminating the need to haul several pounds of books around in their backpacks, Rowlett
After completing a three-semester pilot in fall 2010, administrators at HCC Southwest remain convinced of mobile computing's potential in the classroom.
The college recently made plans to equip every full-time faculty member with an iPad, as many as it can within the parameters of its budget.
"We've proved these devices work in classrooms," says Rowlett
, who says the technology fared well in anatomy, biology, and physiology pilots.
Like most colleges, HCC Southwest can't afford to purchase a mobile device for every student.
But to ensure student access, the college is working to make course content-such as electronic textbooks and the school's learning management system-accessible on any mobile computing device a student owns.
Most students at least have a smartphone, Rowlett
With the right infrastructure, the hope is that they can access the resources from there.
"We are going in the direction of becoming as platform-agnostic as we can be, so students can access educational content on whatever device they bring on campus," he