5.11.2 Mobile Devices - Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable - St. Cloud State University

5.11.2 Mobile Devices


The increased availability of wireless LAN provides a more extensive platform for the use of a variety of mobile devices. These devices range from wireless laptops, to handheld computers, to IP phones, to handheld PDAs, to Internet-enabled cellular phones, and to new products in development. The cost of acquiring this technology in some cases is significantly less than a wired workstation. The exception is laptop computers, which generally cost more than workstations.

As with many emerging technologies, early adopters acquire and implement technology in the absence of campus-wide support structures. This can frequently lead to incompatibilities and/or an expectation of support that may not be practical. As with desktop hardware and software (see 5.9), establishing standards and making those standards widely available to the campus community for comment and adoption will be essential. SCSU must widely disseminate to the campus community the types of systems and applications that will be available and supported.

One of the questions to be addressed is whether mobile devices provide new opportunities for faculty, staff, and students in a wide range of applications. The installation of wireless and mobile devices must benefit SCSU’s core teaching and scholarly mission. The goal would be to acquire hardware, software, training, and support that reasonably fit SCSU’s teaching and research mission and provide the necessary infrastructure.

On a practical level, SCSU has begun to provide electronic options, e.g., WebCT and HuskyNet, for many classroom functions. Using wireless and mobile devices seems a likely next step in bringing content directly to students. This information would be directly accessible during the student’s learning process. One primary purpose of this section of the technology plan is to explore the use and effectiveness of mobile devices, e.g., PDAs, as learning tools. Possibilities include examining the utility and feasibility of students’ sharing notes and/or assignments and of facilitating collaborative learning. Other primary purposes include examining faculty and staff uses of mobile devices and the devices’ effectiveness in addressing faculty and staff needs.


Over the next five years, SCSU will
  • evaluate the use of a range of mobile devices relative to
    • student learning (see 5.4.4)
    • staff needs
    • faculty needs
  • determine the most effective uses of mobile devices based on this evaluation
  • establish the types of mobile devices that SCSU will support and standards for these devices
  • establish support for mobile devices as well as training and education of users
  • disseminate to the campus community information about mobile device uses

Specific Actions and Timeline

A committee will be created that focuses on mobile devices.
  • The committee will follow the standard timeline (see 5.0) for carrying out and reporting on specific actions.
  • The committee will
    • evaluate current mobile devices using such methods as on-line surveys, coordination through various technologists in LR&TS as well as college and administrative technologists, and/or focus groups of interested students, staff, and faculty
    • develop standards for supported mobile devices
    • develop a strategy to effectively implement and integrate supported mobile device acquisition, support, and training
    • identify methods to determine use and effectiveness as related to goals
    • act as a technology resource for TLTR and the campus community
    • report findings to TLTR


Resource allocation, money, and personnel, will depend on the speed and level of implementation of mobile devices. The costs will be coupled with implementation of wireless LAN and other compatible technology at the local level.


  • Has the committee evaluated utility of mobile devices?
  • Has the committee developed standards for supported mobile devices?
  • Has the committee developed a strategy to effectively implement and integrate supported mobile device acquisition, support, and training (including the total cost of ownership)?
  • Has the committee identified methods to determine use and effectiveness as related to goals? And have these methods been used?
  • Has the committee acted as a technology resource for TLTR and the campus community?
  • Has the university provided the recommended support for proposed implementation of mobile devices?
  • Has the committee completed a final report?
  • Has the committee developed recommendations for the next technology planning cycle?

Revised: May 2003