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Center for Digital Education picks Jetpack, Passport as top innovations for 2013

The Center for Digital Education (CDE) is recognizing Purdue as a digital education innovator for its suite of mobile applications —Hotseat, Passport, Jetpack and more — designed to bolster engagement inside and outside the classroom using technology already integral to students’ lives.

The center’s Digital Education Achievement (DEA) Awards and Best of the Web Awards showcase exceptional K-12 and higher education websites, digital technology projects and programs that have enriched education for students and instructors. Purdue technologies have won two of the DEA Awards in the last three years.

Purdue is among eight award winners for 2013 selected out of nominations from education institutions worldwide. The winners are highlighted on centerdigitaled.com and were recognized on Sept. 13 during an awards dinner and workshop in San Francisco.

Gerry McCartney, Purdue's vice president for information technology, chief information officer and Olga Oesterle England Professor of Information Technology, says IT organizations have reached a point where they must become innovators instead of builders, and Purdue's mobile applications result from that mindset.

"Purdue's classroom technologies have boosted graduation rates and increased the success of our students," McCartney says. "Rather than restrict smartphones, we recognized them as a useful resource that our students were bringing to class with them, and we're beginning to take advantage of the technologies."

Hotseat uses student comments and a Twitter-like forum to enhance classroom discussion. Suddenly, every student can comment in class and may do so without interrupting a lecture's flow. The Passport badge system offers students and instructors a customizable way to visually represent competencies that can be linked to students’ work. Jetpack helps instructors self-publish rich custom digital packages of class materials at no cost, with potential for replacing expensive texts in many cases. Other tools in the Studio suite include Mixable, which enables students to create online study groups and securely share class material; and DoubleTake, a mobile video system that lets students capture, share and watch class-related videos from virtually anywhere using their smartphones.

As an added benefit, analytics applied to data from students’ use of these tools has helped instructors identify ways to improve their teaching.

“Educational institutions are constantly tasked with creating quality websites and applications to deliver services and enhance learning,” says Kim Frame, executive director of CDE. “This year’s winners are cognizant of this challenge and have developed innovative models to increase learning and promote achievement via the use of technology.”

Kyle Bowen directs the Informatics unit at Purdue, which created the applications. He says partnering with Purdue faculty has been the most crucial step in the development, adoption and success of the Studio suite.

“The inspiration for each application originates from challenges faced in the classroom, and we meet regularly with faculty and students to identify obstacles that girdle teaching and learning,” Bowen says. “Through these collaborations, we’ve been able to solve a range of common classroom problems and give faculty an incentive to adopt these tools into their curricula, as well as the flexibility to use them in ways that best fit their course and teaching style.”

Faculty at other institutions will soon be able to use the tools as well, as Purdue is licensing the applications to make them available on other campuses.

Purdue was last recognized by CDE in 2011 for Signals, an analytics-based early warning system that helps students succeed in their coursework.

About the Center for Digital Education: CDE is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. CDE advises the industry, conducts relevant research, issues white papers, and produces premier annual surveys and awards programs. CDE also hosts events for the education community. CDE’s media platform includes the quarterly Center for Digital Education's Special Reports, centerdigitaled.com, email newsletters and custom publications.

Writer: Andrea Thomas, ITaP technology writer, 765-496-8204, thomas78@purdue.edu

Sources: Kyle Bowen, director of Informatics, 765-496-7486, kbowen@purdue.edu

Kim Frame, executive director of the Center for Digital Education, 916-932-1376

Gerry McCartney, CIO and vice president for information technology, 765-496-2270, mccart@purdue.edu

Last updated: Sept. 20, 2013