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K-State Today

October 6, 2011



Keeping up with the tech-savvy: Professor's new book looks at how smartphones, tablet computers reshaping learning and teaching

By Communications and Marketing

College students are bringing their playthings -- laptops, smartphones, tablet computers -- into the classroom, and that's good news for professors and for higher education, according to a Kansas State University expert.

Roger McHaney, a K-State management professor who specializes in education technology and training, is the author of the new book, "The New Digital Shoreline: How Web 2.0 and Millennials are Revolutionizing Higher Education."

McHaney, the Daniel D. Burke Chair for Exceptional Faculty and a university distinguished teaching scholar, says professors shouldn't view today's mobile information devices as distractions, but rather as tools for learning. In his book, he makes the case for changes institutions must make to attract and engage today's students.

"Two major changes -- Web. 2.0 and the arrival of tech-savvy millennials on campus -- are shaping what I call the new digital shoreline of higher education," McHaney said. "Teachers need to rethink their classroom approaches and how they interact with students."

McHaney says his book, released by Stylus, is a tool for new and seasoned teachers to understand how today's students get their information and how things like smartphones can help professors teach in new and improved ways.

"Web 2.0, social media and the constant flow of information not only changes the way that we communicate, but the way students learn and professors teach," he said. "Mobile apps, content sharing and tech-savvy students can become assets in the classroom."

McHaney said that with these new ways of communicating with students, professors can add to their materials, present it in different ways and create a base for true lifelong learning.

"These students are helping us -- teachers at all levels -- with new ways to communicate and they're motivating us to see the potential of shared and co-created information resources that exist within the interconnected nodes of the web," he said. "We're being challenged to rethink information creation, storage and delivery."

Mobile information devices also provide students with new capabilities.

"They are time-slicers, shape-shifters, creators and mobile connectors. Our students' toys are the tools of their future," he said.

The book's eight chapters cover such subjects as platforms for learning, Web 2.0 and social learning, what students are finding on this new digital shoreline, what teachers can do beyond just adding new technology and more.

Along with education technology, McHaney's research areas include discrete event simulation, computer-mediated communication systems and organization computing. His work has been published in numerous journals and he has lecture around the world. McHaney has written for textbooks and he has developed a variety of instructional materials, including ELATEwiki.