I agree with the NYTimes' Jenna Wortham that the combination of the App Store and the iPhone/iTouch is a "Game Changer." (If you don't agree then please comment - I'd like to hear your contrarian view.)
But has the App store and the iPhone/iTouch been a game changer for higher ed? Not yet. The problem is that the apps are not that great, not that relevant. At least the ones I have found. I use the NYTimes iPhone app everyday. My iPod Touch is my preferred platform to read e-books, watch TED talks and other videos, and check e-mail on the go. But still, not much of my higher ed. life has migrated to my Touch.
Some nominations for EDU apps:
Course App: A single app for a single course. This app contains all the content associated with the course. All the readings, all the course videos, all the course lesson plans and documents. All the static content, the curriculum, associated with the course. Class lecture captures would be automatically loaded up and synched. Formative assessment exercises around the course content could be offered. Here I'm not suggesting that the mobile platform replicate the LMS - as the LMS should be about communication and collaboration. Rather, the mobile platform serves as a portable container for all course content.
Syllabus App: All course syllabi for the entire institution are collected in one application. Historical syllabi from as far back as can be collected are also included. The app is browsable by discipline and department, searchable by professor or subject. Perhaps a module to allow course registration while browsing the syllabi is included, making the course shopping experience more efficient.
Professor App: An app for each professor. Includes copies the professors CV, course syallabi, presentations, articles, and book chapters where available. Any media interviews the professor has done. The professor's dissertation. Anything that can be digitized should be included, indexed, searchable, and available.
Student App: A student's complete portfolio of work in one app. All papers, presentations, and media projects. Any materials that a student would want to share with a potential employer or professor. The app can be downloaded and shared by the professor, fellow students and potential employers. A portfolio in an app.
Conference App: One app for one conference. Includes all abstracts, presentations, and papers. Updated to included session videos when they become available. Sessions linked to rooms, with a map and an easy way to sign-up for the session. Session ratings within the app.
What do you think of these ideas? What are your ideas? What could you envision as the motivations and business cases to get EDU apps like these (and the ones you suggest) written? Will this be done by small companies in order to make money (through advertising or direct payment), or will these be built by our institutions and professional organizations? Should we be thinking for forming a start-up company for higher education mobile applications?