iPad use in classrooms improves experience

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Author: Christian Morales

During the 2011-2012 academic year, the Faculty Learning Committee (FLC) held workshops to discuss how professors could integrate iPads into their teaching methods. Professor of biology Roberta Pollock and professor of kinesiology Marcella Raney advocated for iPad usage and currently experiments with them as a part of their curricula. The integration of iPads in these classes is a step in the right direction toward a campus-wide usage of the devices.

Those who are interested in renting an iPad for their class should be allowed to do so. While Occidental’s recent experimentation with integrating iPads has been quite effective, there must be a continuation and expansion of iPad usage. This technology helps engage the student with their studies and prepares them for usage in the workforce.

Students enrolled Pollock and Raney’s classes are issued one of the 30 iPads for the semester. In Pollock’s “Introduction to Cell and Molecular Biology” class, students use iPad apps such as Notability, which allow them to take notes directly on their iPads or on top of PDFs. Another app, Socrative, enables Pollock to poll the class and discover which concepts the class understands and those that need to be reviewed. These apps encourage active class-wide participation and prove that iPads can enhance a student’s learning.

“The capabilities of the iPad, in terms of the different apps, can help people with different learning styles and can present the information in different ways,Pollock said.

According to the CNN article, “The iPad goes to college this fall,” Duke University and the University of Maryland began issuing iPads to students in 2010. Duke University downloaded apps for a science course which required collecting data, importing media files, and graphing results. The University of Maryland has taken a different approach to iPad use. Seventy-five chosen honors students taking the “Digital Cultures and Creativity” class used the iPad to download multimedia content related to their coursework and created their own apps. Our generation has experienced a shift in the incorporation of new digital technology into education, and we do not want to be disadvantaged when entering the workforce.

In August 2010, Pepperdine University conducted a case study to determine whether iPads assisted students in classes. The case study, which was conducted in Fall 2010 and Spring 2011, had remarkable results. In the fall of 2010 roughly 75 percent of students stated that the iPad either extremely or slightly supported them in their studies. In Fall 2011, the case study stated that the iPad was effective in the classroom in relation to three categories: support, compatibility and integration.

Institutions that have taken steps towards integrating iPads in the curriculum prove that the time to implement the iPad and other innovative devices is now.

Occidental must continue its progression toward integrating iPads into its curricula, and professors should not be hesitant to transition their teaching styles to one that is more digital. It is critically important to provide students with the most current forms of technology in order to remain competitive with other learning institutions and therefore ensure the highest quality of education.

Christian Morales is an undeclared first-year. He can be reached at cmorales@oxy.edu or on Twitter @WklyCMorales.

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