With the elections set to take center stage this week, I wanted to take a moment to highlight a recent partnership with Lynn University. Studying at the site of the final presidential debate prior to the election, Lynn students realized a unique opportunity to become truly immersed in the electoral process.

Political discourse could be heard on campus well before the candidates arrived at the Boca Raton campus for the debate on October 22, 2012. For the fall semester, Lynn University created a special debate-specific curriculum, wherein a group of students set out to prove the importance of mobile technology in today’s political environment.

As part of an undergraduate course on campaigns in the 21st century – and under the guidance of Stephanie Jackson, Assistant Professor of communication, media and politics in Lynn’s College of International Communication – students conducted the AT&T 2012 Survey: Mobile America’s Student Vote. The survey polled 272 students, mostly undergraduate (92%) between the ages of 18-23 years old (88%) on their electoral preferences and experience:

The results are in – social and mobile win students over

Not surprisingly, social media and mobile Internet access were shown to play an essential role in engaging America’s college students in the electoral process, and the survey reveals that:

  • 79% of Lynn University students are more likely to vote in November because they actively follow a presidential candidate on Twitter or Facebook.
  • 58% of their peers would use smartphones to cast a “mobile vote” this November, if the option were available.
  • 87% of students polled believe it is either “Somewhat important” or “Very important” to discuss political or public issues via social media.
  • 93% of the students surveyed said it is important for candidates to use social media to connect with the public.

View the infographic

Beyond the basics: Embracing the mobile learning experience

As we all know, college students are not only tech-savvy, but mobile technology is also an innate aspect of their lives. Smartphone use is an everyday, every-hour experience. This class tapped into a larger community of students by bringing mobile technology into the curriculum.

Beyond traditional lectures and in-class discussion, students were able to gain deeper insight into what their peers believe to be important about social media and politics. By using tablets over the local AT&T 4G network, students had the flexibility to leave their desks and confirm in real-time the political theories they were learning in the classroom.

With AT&T-provided Samsung Galaxy tablets in hand, the class was able to survey more than 10 percent of the Lynn student population live, and face-to-face.

Assistant Professor Jackson shared her insight about this experience during a video interview:

“It’s one thing to stand in front of the classroom and say, ‘Yes, this is important.’ It’s an entirely other thing for these students to look at the numbers of their peers, and their peers saying, ‘This is significant. This is how I’m using social media.’”

This story is another example of how mobile access is transforming the college experience – allowing teaching and learning to take place from virtually anywhere.

Tell us about your own experiences with mobile learning in higher education. Do you see breaking through the physical “barrier” of classroom walls becoming increasingly prevalent on college campuses? Are you using social media in your personal electoral process this November? If mobile voting were an option, would you opt in?”