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Master’s Program in History Pilots Mobile Learning

By: Sherry Squires   Published 2:59 pm / November 28, 2012

Boise State’s master of applied historical research program is the first at the university to fully implement mobile learning across the curriculum.

The cohort of students who entered the program this fall were required to purchase an iPad; in exchange, faculty teaching in the program will reduce the cost of textbooks during the two-year program to offset the cost of the device.

The master of applied historical research is one of two master’s degrees offered by the Department of History and is for students who want to work as public historians in libraries or museums, or otherwise do historical interpretation for the public.

It is an ideal pilot program for mobile learning, said program co-coordinator Leslie Madsen-Brooks. Jobs in the field are increasingly digital and graduates might be expected to manage historical databases, organize and create websites that contain historical information, collaborate on creating mobile applications or serve as consultants with a game company, for example, on historical details.


“The larger field in which we operate is called digital humanities and it’s a hot field right now,” Madsen-Brooks said. “There is funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help determine how best to organize big sets of historical data in ways that both historians and the public find useful. Our graduates need digital fluency and the goal of the program is to help them become comfortable speaking tech and give them skills that will make them highly employable.”

That is particularly important in Idaho, where rates of broadband Internet access are low relative to the rest of the country. The program helps put digital devices in students’ hands.

While a number of courses across the university utilize mobile teaching and learning, the master’s of applied historical research is a test case for full implementation across a degree program, said Eric Orton, coordinator of instructional design and digital fluency in Academic Technologies.

It is an approach that likely will expand at Boise State. Madsen-Brooks was a participant in the university’s M-Learning initiatives 1.0 and 2.0. She coordinates the program along with Lisa Brady, interim graduate program coordinator in the Department of History. Faculty teaching in the program include Nick Miller, Lynn Lubamersky, Jill Gill, Katherine Huntley and Barton Barbour.