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Being connected at all times: Blessing and curse?

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Last year, Pitt noticed more people connected to its LMS via a mobile device than a computer.

Gone are the days when college students spent hours poring over only print textbooks or shut the book on learning once they left the classroom: Learning management systems, electronic textbooks, mobile devices, and other trends in technology are changing the way students approach education—for better and for worse, experts say.

Course designers have taken notice of how students learn these days. Carlow University tailored its new fraud and forensics master’s program for its on-the-go students, who often access information piecemeal, by offering short learning modules in 10- to 15-minute segments, for example.

Both the traditional and on-the-go approaches have their merits and drawbacks, students and professors say.

Penn State University education professor Alison Carr-Chellman, who studies how technology affects large systems of education, including K-12, corporate, and higher education, is concerned that a crucial part of learning might be lost when students try to fill pockets of time with mobile learning, just because they can.

“I think that learning—true learning—requires a certain amount of reflection,” she said, “and I’m not sure you have a lot of time for reflecting when you’re standing in line for the bus in 10 minutes.”

(Next page: More on the pros and cons of always-connected learning)

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