How mobile devices energize learning at Fresno State

UB Tech® 2019 presenter will share how DISCOVERe program engages students and cuts costs

The use of mobile technology in education can improve student engagement. At California State University, Fresno, an overwhelming majority of students who’ve swapped textbooks for tablets say they are more engaged in class—even in the institution’s large lecture halls.

It’s all part of the DISCOVERe mobile technology initiative that lets students—from first-years to postgrads—use an app to access interactive course materials and share work with the class. These specially designated courses will enroll about 17,000 students in fall 2019, says DISCOVERe Director Mike Pronovost, who will describe how the program works during his presentation at UB Tech® 2019, to be held June 10-12 in Orlando.

“I’ll also share some great success stories that will really illuminate what we’re trying to achieve here,” Pronovost says.

President Joseph Castro, in launching the program shortly after his arrival at Fresno State in 2013, said DISCOVERe would help close the digital divide by increasing access to all students.

The initiative has reached 29,000 students, saving them about $4 million in course costs. That’s an average of 72%less than traditional course materials. Students can use any device they want—from Apple, Android, Windows or others—in the courses, which are offered in person, online and in a hybrid format. The university also provides tablets free to students who can’t afford them. In class, students connect to Apple TV to project their work.

Virtual tape measures

Each major uses devices differently, Pronovost says. “Construction management [students] use augmented reality on their devices instead of tape measures,” he says. “Students take their devices to construction sites to view blueprints, and share those interactively and collaborate.”

And physical therapy students no longer use lab books; they track patient injuries and keep all other records on their devices.

All students can use the app to provide feedback to instructors in real time. “Faculty are more proactive about addressing issues, as opposed to waiting for a quiz to understand what’s going on in class,” Pronovost says.
In addition, students can publish their work in e-portfolios to share with potential employers.

IT teams need several weeks to upgrade a classroom to host a DISCOVERe course. Faculty and instructional designers can spend up to a year redeveloping a course to make it more interactive and to eliminate textbooks, he says.

For more information about UB Tech® 2019 and the use of mobile technology in education, visit

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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