Studying on the digital run

When college students are urged to put down their phones and do their homework, they might soon answer: "We can’t. Our homework is on our cell phones," reports the Orange County Register of California. The drive to create an entire classroom that can live on a mobile phone is just one of the revolutionary projects under way at California’s Coastline Community College. Coastline specializes in teaching outside the campus–in students’ homes, on their personal computers or televisions, or even on ships, submarines, and in combat zones. Located in a nondescript building behind Fountain Valley City Hall, Coastline’s team of designers and technicians spend their days trying to figure out how to use state-of-the-art technology to provide classes in the virtual world. Their biggest project right now should be done by spring semester: The ability of all students with internet-ready phones to take their classes on the run, anywhere they can get a wireless connection. "People can study at the bus stop, or the beach, any time they have a few minutes available," said Ted Boehler, a former marine biologist who’s now the college’s dean for innovation and learning technology. "We’ve converted hundreds of classes." Other gee-whiz projects are also being developed, including a "virtual campus" that resembles Coastline’s real buildings, where an avatar representing a student can walk around, interact with college employees, and even visit the faculty during virtual "office hours"; a project to teach English to 50,000 middle-schoolers in China; and an online immersive world where soldiers can learn to speak Arabic…

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