Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Brunswick Man Develops Mobile Learning Initiative for Area College


TRENTON, N.J. Matthew Cooper was seven years old when Thomas Edison State College first pioneered the development of online college courses more than 20 years ago.

Today, he is playing a lead role in Thomas Edison State College's new Mobile Learning Initiative, which is creating new course delivery formats that enable students to complete courses regardless of their location and without the need for an Internet connection.

"Our goal is to meet the needs of busy adults who are mobile more often than they are stationary, including deployed military personnel and mass transit riders," he said.

Cooper, a course designer at the college, knows all about having down time on a train. He travels by rail from his home in New Brunswick to the college's Trenton campus every day. His perspective as a commuter may have been helpful as he played a key role developing one of the college's latest course delivery system, which enables students to complete courses with no Internet connection. The courses he developed, known as FlashTrack courses, made their debut in spring 2009 and are delivered to students on a single two gigabyte (2 GB) flash drive. The 15 new flash-based courses are designed for independent learners and prepare students to take a pass or fail examination.

"I have been working on the Mobile Learning Initiative since I joined the college in July," said Cooper, who moved to New Jersey from Kansas City, Mo., with his wife. "The FlashTrack program was our first step to making our educational programs more accessible to our students."

Cooper also has been busy developing another new course delivery system that the college launched in July 2009. This new course format enables students to access 20 courses with any web-enabled cell phone or other mobile device. The courses, known as Mobile Option e-Pack courses, are also designed for independent learners and enable students to use smartphones to download and complete diagnostic quizzes that form part of the regular course work and prepare students to take a final exam.

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