iTune in: iPads for classroom use

By Kasie Von Haden

Lumen Editor

There’s an app for that.

Actually, there may be an app for this, that and the other thing.

And the sensation is coming to Viterbo.

After President Richard Artman and Barbara Gayle, academic vice president, were invited to Apple Headquarters for the “Academia@ Apple” program, they decided to bring a bit of Apple back with them, Artman said.

Hence, the Viterbo iPad Initiative came to be.

“To get started, we wanted a core group of faculty to become familiar with the iPad, play with it for a year, be part of a learning community to share what they learn, and then in­corporate this technology into their teaching,” said Artman.

Gretel Stock-Kupperman, library director and chair of the iPad Initia­tive, agreed.

“For this first year, our ultimate goal is to have faculty be using [the iPad] for pedagogical ends,” she said. “We ask, ‘How can we use it for teaching?’ and ‘How does this enhance teaching?’”

Along with Stock-Kupperman, the initiative cohort consists of 29 other members, mainly professors, in­cluding nine who already had their own iPads and 18 who received iPads through the university. The two remaining members are faculty members, Theresa Moore, director of faculty development and intern­ship coordinator, and Chad Gilbeck, Help Desk Service coordinator.

The group meets twice a month to talk about the iPad, things they’ve learned about it, and apps they’ve downloaded for their classrooms.

“We’ve got several representatives from all of the schools here,” Stock- Kupperman said, “and they’re each finding something and learning how they can teach with it in their disciplines.”

“As a member of the cohort, I am expected to become aware of the iPad and what’s available and find out how we can use that in the class­room,” said Emily Dykman, assis­tant instructor in the religious stud­ies department and member of the cohort. “That’s the first piece.”

“We’re also looking at how we can help students learn more with the technology that’s already there,” she said.

“This group is really exploratory to find out what we can do,” Stock- Kupperman said. “There’s a lot of ‘let’s see what happens’ in this proj­ect.”

One of the applications the co­hort is using extensively is iTunes University, or iTunes U. iTunes U consists of a vast collection of con­tent from other universities all over the world. This feature was a driv­ing force for starting the Initiative at Viterbo.

“We felt iTunes U offers immense opportunities for innovation and ac­tive learning,” Artman said. “Hun­dreds of thousands of content files, prepared by the best scholars in the world, are available for free, to de­liver content. So rather than faculty spending many hours preparing lec­tures/power points, etc., they can use high quality, multi-media con­tent and then supplement classroom time with active learning.”

“If a professor can find a lecture and adopt other content as dis­played through an app, it’s another tool to engage students,” Stock- Kupperman said.

Dykman agreed in regards to hav­ing access to iTunes U. “The amount of really great videos or lectures with free access” is something she is looking forward to.

“There aren’t a lot of ‘theology apps’ for my discipline, apart from Bibles,” Dykman said. “But, what I hope to do is have students listen to a speaker outside of class and dis­cuss it in class. The content can be accessed outside the classroom and they don’t have to listen to me lec­ture all the time. And, we can bring outside speakers to campus without actually bringing them to campus.”

“We want to enhance the reflective teaching that is already a hallmark of Viterbo and increase dialogue around topics as groups, instead of just listening,” said Stock-Kupper­man.

Though the cohort has hopes and goals set, they also have concerns and challenges on their minds.

“I hope it doesn’t replace the faculty’s involvement in the class­room,” Dykman said. “My greatest concern about technology is replac­ing relationships that are really im­portant, but the benefits of this tech­nology outweigh that quite a bit.”

Another concern comes with the convenience of certain applications.

“There’s not an app for ‘just’ that,” Stock-Kupperman said. “There isn’t a psychology interviewing skills app, but there are notepad and re­cording apps to assist in interview­ing. The apps won’t do it for you, but there are things that help you do it better.”

Other concerns are geared more toward the technology side of things.

“There are things that don’t work the way you expect it, like finding a wireless connection,” Stock-Kup­perman said. “We’re trying to learn about those technical challenges and ease those early.”

Despite these challenges, the co­hort is excited about the opportu­nity.

“We’re only just starting to scratch the surface of what’s available and it’s exciting to see how else we will be able to use it,” Dykman said.

The iPad fun isn’t only for pro­fessors or students in the classroom, either.

The library has purchased eight iPads for students to check out for up to a whole day, or for professors to check out for their entire class.

“If students are curious or are interested in buying an iPad, they can play with one in the library and download free apps to try it out,” Stock-Kupperman said. “We want to give students the ability to mess around and learn about the iPad along with us.”

In addition, open sessions will be held for students and faculty to learn more about the iPad and re­ceive assistance in technological support and helpful hints in using the technology.

“We expect more people to come to campus with devices, like an iPad, Tablet, Android phone, or a fancy laptop, so we want profes­sors to be comfortable to teach with these,” Stock-Kupperman said.

“Mobile learning is pervasive and will likely be the most common way students access information and communicate in the foreseeable future,” Artman said. “Though the iPad is only one device, it is the most advanced right now and integrates well with the applications and tech­nology familiar to students who have an iPhone or similar device.”

“There’s an energy when the fac­ulty get talking about their teaching and what they are excited about,” Dykman said. “I’m starting to real­ize everything that’s out there that I can use; it’s been fun.”

To learn more about the iPad Ini­tiative, the Viterbo community is encouraged to check out the iPad initiatitve’s blog, viterboipad.word­press.com.

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