Higher education report gets digital makeover

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A few pieces of paper have been turned into a mobile app.

The New Media Consortium, an international coalition of edtech experts, has partnered with a startup called Mirum to transform their main print report about higher education into an interactive app.

The app is available for free for Apple and Android devices.

“Until now, the report has been a PDF, which is not the most ‘of the moment’ format,” said Samantha Adams Becker, senior director of publications and communications, in an interview with EdScoop. “In our partnership with Mirum, we really wanted to disseminate the content in a way that’s more dynamic and interactive, that allows readers to drill down into the content in a way they couldn’t before.”

The NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition tracks emerging edtech tools and how universities are using them in the classroom. The report, which came out in February, delves into increasingly popular trends like blended learning designs, measuring learning and “advancing cultures of innovation.”

It also goes into challenges impeding technology adoption in colleges, including competing models of education and keeping higher ed relevant. NMC officials say the PDF report has been downloaded 250,000 times in nearly 200 countries since its release.

The app has features that create a more personalized reading experience for its viewers, officials say. The organization is targeting professors, faculty members and policymakers who would typically read the report.

“I would say the best features are the ease of navigation and the interactive elements that are embedded throughout the content,” Lorenzo Vallone, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Mirum, told EdScoop. “The interactive features really set this apart from the traditional PDF and certainly print or web.”

Vallone added that the ability to view the content when there’s limited or no internet connection, as well as data analytics provided by Adobe Experience Manager, on which the platform is based, are other highlights.

The app also includes links to NMC’s social media platforms, so users can continue to engage in conversation, Becker said. Readers can open links within the app that lead to more information on a particular topic, including images and videos.

“For example, if someone is into virtual reality, they can jump to that section in the app,” she said. “They can also watch videos and engage with the content more dynamically. It’s about convenience, flexibility, being more visually dynamic and reflecting the 21st century practice that we’d like to see in education.”

This is the first time that NMC has paired its publication with a mobile platform, but with the success of the pilot, Becker says she hopes the organization will continue to be a trailblazer in education technology.

“The NMC hopes that this app is a proof of concept so people can see what’s possible if you take an educational resource to the next level,” Becker said. “We have partners like Mirum in our community because we’re continually striving to push the boundaries of what we can do as a company.”

Reach the reporter at darlene.aderoju@edscoop.com, and follow her on Twitter @buuukky.

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