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Arkansas State Continues iPad Pilots

Arkansas State University is in the second semester of its iPad Initiative, which provides iPads for experimentation in a number of courses and university departments. The uses are turning out to be diverse:

  • A geography class that outfitted students with iPads in order to "master" the topic;
  • An "iArt" program in which art faculty who had never used iPads before could explore the use of the devices in art courses, including studio, graphic design, education, and history classes.
  • A pilot that provided librarians with iPads to roam around the library and help students learn digital literacy and assist them with their research on the spot.
  • A summer session by the Education department that allowed teachers to learn how to use iPads with specific apps for data collection, data recording, video and image recording, and other skills useful for developing lessons for their K-12 students.

The program initially kicked off in 2011 when faculty and staff began meeting to figure out how to spend $100,000 it had received from a campus tech fee committee, which, according to coverage in student newspaper Arkansas State University Herald, wanted faculty to research how to use mobile technology in the classroom. An iPad committee was formed, and proposals solicited for research projects. Eventually 16 proposals were submitted, and the committee prioritized them and funded the first 10 top-ranked projects, with the bulk of the budget going to the purchase of the tablets themselves.

Where instructors issued iPads to students, they sometimes supplied the apps. For example, one of the iArt courses used art compilation Art Authority, curating game Master Pieces, image sharing program Instagram, and image gallery Instapad. An education classroom management experiment, however, called for students who were issued the devices to come up with one or two iPad apps early in the semester that they could recommend for use by their fellow students for instructional purposes.

Arkansas State's Interactive Teaching and Technology Center (ITTC) provided training and teaching support to instructors; technical support came from the Information and Technology Services organization.

This semester ITTC is continuing its instructional support with a couple of 90-minute faculty development courses on "exploring iPad apps across the curriculum."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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