Educational Apps: Will Purdue's JetPack Reinvent Mobile Learning?
By Sam Coren
For every high schooler in America who's had their smartphone whisked away by angry teachers during study hall your time for vindication has come. Developers at Purdue University have just launched an exciting new mobile learning platform called JetPack. The free app will allow students to download course material called "packs" right to their phones. Packs can act as a replacement to traditional paper handouts and in some cases even textbooks. Once the packs are downloaded, students can run them natively on their mobile devices without the need to be connected to the Internet.
But the coolness doesn't just stop at cutting down the weight in your backpack form those heavy textbooks and paper course packs. JetPack will allow teachers to instantly give students access to more interactive learning materials at their fingertips. The JetPack platform has support for video, specialized calculators, audio, Google maps, quizzes and self-assesment tests. Talk about the ultimate study tool!
In the upcoming spring semester, Purdue will conduct a pilot test of the JetPack software in a few classes. Currently, the JetPack reader is available for iPhone as a free download in the iTunes store. The release of JetPack that's currently up in iTunes is a preview version that includes a few sample packs, including a pack on one-time Purdue staff member Amelia Earhart, two textbook samples and a volume of an academic journal. Purdue plans to release versions for iPad and Android in 2012.
So what's the catch? If you're an educator and can't wait to start putting your course material on JetPack for students you have to wait. According to Kyle Bowen, director of informatics for Information Technology at Purdue, the authoring software, which will allow users to build their own JetPacks will be available in the summer of 2012. Until then check out the video below and download the preview version in iTunes to start getting "pack" ideas for your classes!
Photo: Purdue University News Service