Teaching with Technology Part 4: The Four Pillars of Mobile Technology

Though modern computing has empowered a great many, it also has the potential to be a double-edged sword. As with any invention, technology is only as good as its application. Many universities are in a rush to provide their students with mobile devices, such as iPads and laptops, but fewer work to integrate those devices with the care they deserve. In their pursuit of proper integration, Hiram College has created a fine example of a plan worth learning from. Their campus, in addition to the providing the hardware, introduced the four Ps—pillars which keep their initiative in academic technology not just mobile but mindful. 

The first of these pillars is “purposeful,” reflecting engaged use of their devices. Students exhibiting purposeful behavior might be taking notes, researching, sharing information with other students, or presenting with their devices as an aid. Ideally, usage wouldn’t be just limited to one of these; instead, students and faculty can take advantage of the communicative capabilities of modern devices, nurturing their skills in an organic manner. 

The second P stands for “pragmatic,” referring to practical usage of their devices. Focusing on context and sensible usage, this pillar encourages individuals to use devices in a way which will enhance their daily lives. For example, on field trips, students might use their general-purpose devices as a replacement for bulky DSLR cameras. Later, those photos could be shared using social media from the very same devices that took the pictures. 

The penultimate P means “proportionate,” reflecting to what extent technology should be used. Though there are many cases where technology may prove beneficial, as reflected by the previous pillar, there’s such a case as too much of a good thing. When, where, and how much technology should be used is contextual, and thorough consideration of those factors is encouraged in this pillar. 

The last pillar represents “present,” or the use of technology to explore current and relevant data. For Hiram College, as well as many other such rich and developed campuses, this would constitute photography and videography of local sights, as well as general involvement through technology. 

By not just following but understanding these four pillars, it’s the hope that students will take full advantage of the potential they’ve been given through their technology. There are many pitfalls associated with mobile devices: addiction to social media, distractions during class, and altered sleep patterns. However, conscientious usage helps students avoid these, and focus on the best advantages that technology offers, such as deep engagement in education, as well as benefits in convenience and collaboration. 


Grey Ruessler, IT User Services, and Martha Henckell, Ed.D. Director of Academic Technologies


Varlotta, L. (2017 May 8). Mobile technology meets mindful technology [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2017/5/mobile-technology-meets-mindful-technology