GGC to Launch Innovative Wireless Phone Program with Rave Wireless and Sprint

When students at Georgia Gwinnett College head to class in 2007, they will need to include their wireless phone along with their usual class supplies of pens and notepaper. A unique partnership between GGC, Rave Wireless and Sprint (NYSE:S) will put wireless technology in the hands of students and faculty this spring in an innovative initiative to build mobile communities into the learning experience.

When students at Georgia Gwinnett College head to class in 2007, they will need to include their wireless phone along with their usual class supplies of pens and notepaper. A unique partnership between GGC, Rave Wireless and Sprint (NYSE:S) will put wireless technology in the hands of students and faculty this spring in an innovative initiative to build mobile communities into the learning experience.

As the first college in Georgia to integrate wireless phones as an integral part of the academic curriculum, GGC will design the program based on input from 20 students and select faculty members beginning this spring semester. Plans call for a total program launch in the fall, according to Dr. Lonnie Harvel, GGC’s CIO and vice president for educational technology.

“The partnership with Rave Wireless and Sprint will grant students unique access to information,” says Harvel. “Students will be able to connect directly to online class content, receive announcements for courses, and communicate via text messaging to their professor and the entire class. With these community building tools in the hands of both the students and the faculty, new methods of instruction will be possible.”

Wireless phones will be used in class for immediate response to surveys or quizzes, and global positioning system (GPS) options will assist in campus security. Students will also have access to class records as well as the ability to pay certain fees through the phone. They can check their grades, and find available spaces to meet for collaboration and reserve them from their wireless phones before they drive to campus. The core applications are being provided by Rave Wireless, which include a full suite of mobile applications that work through a combination of text messaging and the mobile Internet. In addition, Rave Wireless will provide GGC with the Rave Extender toolkit that will allow GGC to build custom learning applications.

Wireless phones will also be used to track academic progress and receive support. For example, a system will remind students of how much Hope Scholarship funds remain available, which classes they should take prior to their senior year, and when a meeting with an academic mentor might be necessary.

Another significant innovation being developed is the “classroom capture” system. Students will have full access to review streaming sessions of what has occurred in class, with the ability to “tag” segments of the material they find important.

“While the video, audio, slides and annotations are all captured, they can use their cell phones to interject commentary as text messages,” Dr. Harvel said. “The next time a student goes back to view that stream, the messages they inserted will be tags they can find.”

“Georgia Gwinnett College is a key player in efforts of the University System of Georgia (USG) to develop and implement innovative instructional technologies. A good example of this kind of innovation is GGC's pilot program for integrating cell phones into the classroom,” says the USG's Interim Vice Chancellor for Information and Instructional Technology/CIO Tom Maier. “One thing we know for certain is that virtually all of our students have cell phones. Leveraging a technology that is accessible and comfortable to students for inclusion in the instructional process makes good sense. It's a good example of taking the educational process to where the students are rather than having them come to us.”

“GGC is an ideal customer for Rave Wireless because of their foundational commitment to using mobile technology to advance the teaching and learning mission of the institution,” said Rodger Desai, CEO of Rave Wireless. “We’re looking forward to working with GGC not only to enrich the lives of GGC students, but also to uncover new uses for mobile technology in an academic setting.”

“The state-of-the-art Sprint wireless broadband network and unique location-based services combined with Rave Wireless’ mobile applications create an innovative wireless solution for Georgia Gwinnett College,” said Joel Garner, regional vice president for Sprint. “We are pleased to be working with GGC and integrating wireless technology that will enhance the classroom experience from both a learning and a teaching perspective.”

Any student coming to GGC with phones supported by major service providers will be able to register for basic messaging services and collaboration tools. However, these phones will not be able to access services requiring GPS or streaming media capabilities.

Sprint has negotiated a special phone package for students willing to pay for a video-capable GPS phone at reduced rates. Connection to campus services and communications will be free. The special phones will also have additional “anytime minutes,” which students can pay extra to extend.

Two classes will participate in the design of this program during the spring: a psychology class and a business class. Students and faculty in the program will receive their phones in the next few weeks while the Rave Wireless products will be in place by the end of February. By March, both students and faculty will have experimented with different uses of the technology and have a sense of what is working well and what needs to be adjusted. In fall 2007, all faculty and students at GGC will be using this technology.

"I have found that the faculty here at GGC are exceptionally creative and are constantly developing new pedagogical approaches to teach in their respective areas,” says GGC psychology professor Tom Hancock, a faculty member participating in the pilot program. “At Georgia Gwinnett, the IT department goes out of their way to find the technologies that meet our teaching desires. For instance, in my upcoming statistics course the students will be utilizing their cell phones to create their own data to analyze and thus freeing up valuable class time for other activities."

“We are looking for ways to make the students more successful,” says Harvel. “When you look at industry today, there are certain skills and tasks that are standard and expected. We are building those same skills and tasks into a GGC education so our students will have an edge when they graduate and move into the workplace.”

Harvel adds, “One of the cornerstones of GGC’s vision is to be innovative in the use of educational technology. The purpose of technology in the classroom is always to increase student success.”

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