The iPad may only be two and a half years old, but it’s already changed the way educators teach and students learn in the classroom. I want to share our experiences from the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) pioneering research in using technology in the classroom to get students excited about learning.
For the past two years, CEHD has distributed iPads to incoming freshmen and about 30 instructors. We also conducted orientation sessions with a designated tech person to teach faculty and students how to use the iPad to facilitate classroom learning. We found that students weren’t afraid to try this new tool for learning. In fact many of them were already familiar with the iPad and experienced very few technical issues because of the ease of use of iPads. We’ve been gathering student reflections on using the iPad and distributing short surveys as part of our research, which we will share in the next few months. I’m proud to share that the University of Minnesota is one of the first and only major research universities that have brought the iPad into the classroom at this scale.
Technology Innovates Teaching and Learning Methods
The prevalence of electronic devices and Apple’s focus on education is revolutionizing the way teachers and students teach and learn. And not only at the college level. Apple is developing apps and products for pre-K and K-5 for younger students. No longer is a teacher the sole giver of information that’s supplemented with textbooks and discussions. Now students have all the information they need right at their fingertips, prompting a shift in a teacher’s role from giver to interpreter of information.
By integrating the iPad into classrooms, a more dynamic learning environment is created. For example, a teacher can facilitate a discussion in the classroom using the iPad by having students look up information about a given current event. Students can then share and discuss different perspectives they’ve found from liberal, conservative or moderate points of view. The inclusion of the camera in the newer versions of the iPad can also facilitate personal expression. One class was directed to go to our Weisman Art Museum to take pictures of artwork that influenced them and were then asked to share and write about it.
The new Apple iBooks Author app allows teachers to create course materials and textbooks enhanced with embedded images and videos to enhance the learning experience. Accessibility is built right in with enlarged print and VoiceOver technology that enable students with disabilities to read the text. With iBooks, students can take notes, highlight passages and take quizzes to reinforce learning. Teachers have the ability to track which students need help with the material, providing yet another way to improve learning.
Embracing the iPad and other innovative technologies in the classroom levels the playing field for students in a way that’s never been done before. Now every incoming CEHD student will have access to the resources they need to succeed in school. My goal for the college is to embrace new, innovative technology in education and improve the way we teach students. Next week, David Ernst, director of Academic Technology Services, will share information about our new, innovative open academics textbook catalog.
For more information about CEHD’s iPad initiative, visit our Mobile Learning website.
–Dean Jean Quam
College of Education and Human Development
University of Minnesota
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