Posted by: Mary Simone | October 15, 2012

New Projects: iPads in the Classroom

Have you seen the iPad cart for students being wheeled around campus?  The cart is associated with the iPads in the Classroom pilot project—an exploratory project to discover the various ways in which faculty might use iPads in their teaching.

Last May, the IT Division of Education Technology and the Joseph P. Healey Library launched a call for proposals from faculty for using iPads in their classroom teaching and provided resources for creating a mobile iPad lab for classroom use. From these proposals, eleven faculty and staff were selected to participate in the iPad in the Classroom program this fall at UMass Boston.

Participants represent a range of departments and include Amy Todd, Anthropology;  Victoria Kingsley and Rebecca Romanow, English; Marc Prou, Africana Studies; Lynn Tirrell, Philosophy;  Susan Mraz, Hispanic Studies; Mark Pawlak,  Academic Support and Mathematics; Catherine Mazza, Art; David Patterson, Music; and Brian Rogan, Physics.  Janet Stewart, from the Healey Library is also participating to evaluate the iPad as an ebook reader and its usefulness in accessing the library’s online resources .  Participants will share their unique ideas about how to use the iPad as a teaching and learning tool, how to create curriculum materials with iBooks Author, and how to use the  iPad as an eBook for a course.

An IT liaison has been assigned to each faculty project to offer technology support for the academic year, relevant apps, both free and paid, have been installed on faculty iPads.   A training consultation to get faculty started with relevant apps and a kick-off breakfast launched this year’s project.

An iPad cart, equipped with 14 iPads for student use with course-specific apps installed is now being delivered to the classrooms by IT staff from the McCormack and Wheatley Media Labs on a weekly timetable.  Starting in mid October, the Healey Library will also make iPads available on reserve for students who are registered in courses using the iPad cart.

The  iPad in the Classroom blog provides a space for ongoing project updates and for the sharing of faculty experiences and concerns.  The blog suggests that some concerns thus far have been technical and logistical, as staff manage the iPad cart and faculty work out how to use various apps and integrate them with other software. But as faculty share information about apps that support their teaching, they are beginning to move from dealing with the technology to sharing pedagogical practices.

Thus far participants are finding students enthusiastic while they themselves are appreciating the opportunity to explore the possibilities presented by this mobile technology.

You can learn more about the ongoing conversation among project participants and IT staff by visiting the blog and you can subscribe to the blog to receive announcements about upcoming events.  We’ll follow up with more information about individual projects in a later issue of the newsletter.

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