As they make their way into college, new students look to their professors as well as their technology to guide their experiences. Research into the matter has shown that college students are more likely to own Internet-capable devices and use the Internet than any other segment of the population.

In the past decade, laptops redefined the way students take notes and participate in their courses. Now, with the proliferation of transformational devices such as tablets and smartphones, students have the chance to mediate their studies through the wellspring of apps that have been developed to cater to their needs. Some of these apps allow professors to reach and engage with students, especially in larger classrooms.

Devices such as the iClicker have long been employed by professors in lecture halls to gauge students’ comprehension of course material and to collect other metrics. Now, a new iteration of the iClicker and competitors like Socrative operate on laptops and portable devices, and offer a wider range of functionality. Instead of asking multiple choice questions only, professors can present open-ended questions and gamify the session for an even more interactive course experience.

Thanks to YouTube and apps that allow professors to record lectures that students can view at their leisure, class time can be left open for engaging discussion and activities that advance course comprehension and peer interaction. This phenomenon, called flipping the classroom, removes the professor from the helm and demands much more responsibility and participation from students in order for the course to function smoothly and properly.

Students today maintain a close connection with their devices. With some schools giving away or requiring tablets and laptop computers, faculty now have a great opportunity to meet their students in the middle.