The NMC has released Course Apps: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference. Commissioned by Adobe Systems, the report explores the emergence of new forms of instructional resources, known informally as “course apps” — special mobile applications with functionalities that promise to redefine the category.

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The report looks at the evolution of the key features of course apps — mobility, interactivity, engaging design, and integrated analytics — and showcases how course apps are sparking new Final Adobe Cover_borderthinking in higher education about the next iteration of digital learning resources. In analyzing the progress in these areas, the NMC has identified a need for innovators in the education space to create more robust technological tools that not only push the boundaries of what is possible, but also redefine them. Course apps have the potential to generate more excitement around learning for students, especially as it relates to breathing new life into instructional materials.

“While course apps are relatively new territory, we see them as opportunities to spark more engaged and immersive learning,” said Larry Johnson, chief executive officer of the NMC. “We encourage thought leaders to watch this space as digital instructional materials are ripe for innovation. Adobe has definitely taken a leadership position in this arena.”

While course apps are still in their early days, the report also showcases initial compelling uses at American Public University System and the University of Texas at Austin. Both higher education institutions have leveraged the Adobe Digital Publishing Solution to easily design, manage, and disseminate content through their course apps while gleaning insights about how students are responding to the instructional materials through Adobe Analytics integration.

“We are excited that a number of leading institutions are already integrating course apps as part of their teaching and learning initiatives,” said Karen McCavitt, group manager, worldwide marketing for education enterprise at Adobe. “We hope more institutions adopt course apps to enhance student engagement and provide the best learning experience today’s technology can offer.”

The convergence of the four trends explored here has generated new energy around the instructional resources, and the possibilities are undeniable. The hope is that this strategic brief will serve as a springboard for critical discussions around how course apps can facilitate more meaningful learning while providing educators with key insights about student progress and the efficacy of the educational content. In the winter of 2016, the NMC will be releasing a follow-up report that chronicles how further efforts around course apps unfold next year.

Course Apps: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief is available online, free of charge, and is released under a Creative Commons license to facilitate its widespread use, easy duplication, and broad distribution.

> Download the report (PDF)