Here are the important bits:
1. What is it?
Mobile IT both reflects and drives the convergence of applications and functionality on smaller and smaller devices. The notion of mobile IT is also tied to issues such as cloud computing and federated identity, which help enable secure access to IT tools and resources from remote locations and multiple devices.
2. How does it work?
Mobile devices use cellular networks, Wi-Fi, or both, and many have touch-screen interfaces. Operating systems vary, and support for software such as Java and Flash is mixed. Just as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all device, so too do current and emerging examples of mobile applications span a wide range.
Mobile applications can be built using device-specific toolkits, often resulting in more functionality, but applications that use browser software work on a wider range of mobile devices.
3. Who is doing it?
College and universities offer many types of information and services online, and many are good candidates for mobile IT. Aside from numerous academic uses, institutions have undertaken initiatives in areas of administration, library services, and campus life. Having a single point of convergence for these several channels of communication presents an opportunity for institutions to integrate messaging services, including emergency notifications.
4. Why is it significant?
Ownership of cell phones is approaching ubiquity, with growing numbers of smartphones and sophisticated mobile devices. Because mobile IT is fast becoming a part of some professional practices, an institutional choice not to pursue mobility is increasingly untenable. Student expectations for mobility are rising, and mobile IT efforts are an important part of keeping an institution’s online services competitive.
5. What are the downsides?
Converting to mobile IT is
not simply a process of miniaturization, and many institutional IT staffs lack expertise in redesigning websites or applications for a mobile context. As a result, although many institutions are dipping their toes into the waters of mobile IT, best practices don’t exist to serve as a guide.
6. Where is it going?
Colleges and universities will continue to convert applications and services to mobile formats, generally at a cautious pace. Vendors will increasingly offer their products and services in mobile formats. Institutions will seek to understand how to integrate mobile IT effectively into campus culture, and development is likely to accelerate around location-based mobile IT services and the capabilities of touch interfaces.
7. What are the implications for Higher Education?
Given that mobile IT is working its way into many professional activities, colleges and universities have a responsibility to develop learning environments that model those kinds of practices. Mobile IT can develop into a specialized field of study, and some institutions already offer courses on development of mobile applications.