College degree via mobile device?

The definition of class participation has changed for college students at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering.

Nearly nine in 10 students have used mobile devices to study for exams.

The USC engineering program’s Distance Education Network, a model for distance learning in higher education, has enabled students to stream live lectures on their smart phones and tablets, and participate in lecture hall discussions through their various mobile devices.

It’s an entirely new level of anywhere, anytime education, as students can join live class discussions via chat, phone, or voice over IP.

The engineering school, recognized as the nation’s top online engineering program, has 4,000 students this year, about one in four of whom complete their degrees online.

The Viterbi school’s leveraging of student mobile devices is just the latest move toward using tablets and smart phones as an essential learning tool in higher education.

The City University of New York’s (CUNY) journalism program last year required all students to own a smart phone. It’s not a stretch to expect college students to own a web-enabled phone, as several recent surveys have shown.

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #eCNMobile.