By: Catherine Collins
All members of next year’s incoming freshman class will receive an iPad, due to the recent decision to extend the pilot program in order to more accurately assess the technology’s effectiveness, according to Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, provost and vice-president of academic affairs.
The provost announced the decision to lengthen the iPad program at a meeting of faculty department chairs on Oct. 5. The stated reason for continuing the program into the 2012 – 2013 school year is the need for a two-year assessment period.
According to the provost, there will not be enough information by the end of this semester or this year to know whether the iPad is effective in Hood’s classrooms.
“We just need the time,” Conway-Turner said. “We had been working so hard on implementation [last year] that we didn’t focus so much on assessment.”
Unlike the iPad program this year, which was funded by a grant from a late alumna, next year’s iPad program is currently unfunded.
“I don’t really know where the funding will be. That will be defined as we move ahead,” Conway-Turner said. “We don’t have it in our budget. But it will not come from instructional funds.”
Conway-Turner is currently working on ways to survey students and consult faculty members about the iPad.
At the end of this semester, all students who are in a class in which the iPad is being used will take a survey about what role the iPad played in their class. At the end of this academic year, all freshman students will be surveyed as to how the iPad has played into their college experience.
“There’s a whole range of ideas out there,” Conway-Turner said. “We’re interested in not only what happens in the classroom, but how students are using iPads in general.”
Information Technology is currently working on a Blackboard application that will allow faculty members to interact and discuss which applications they are using in various classes, according to the provost. Additionally, focus groups of professors will be convened at the end of the semester to discuss the iPad’s effectiveness.
Dr. Shannon Kundey, assistant professor of psychology, said that the iPad has been “interesting and fun” for her Psychology 101 class.
“It’s been an interesting experiment, but the data is not in yet,” she said.
Out of 32 students in Psychology 101, there are 20 freshmen. For the online activities that Kundey does in class, she lets students use whatever technology they happen to own – an iPad, a laptop, a netbook, etc.
“It’s not specific to the iPad,” Kundey said of the electronic approach she takes to certain assignment.
For Spanish professor Laura Cordova, though, some iPad applications are proving to be useful and good for creativity.
Cordova, who is teaching two sections of Spanish 101 this semester, has been using the iPad for speaking and writing exercises.
“It’s been wonderful, and students have been excited about the iPads in the classroom,” she said. “It makes the assignments more personal and creative, and hopefully more motivating.”
Only several of the students in each 101 section are not freshmen, and Cordova allows them different options on the computer to do the exercises.
“Some of the applications are unique to the iPad, but there are a few you can do on the computer,” she said.
All of the applications Cordova has used are free, with the exception of one that cost $0.99.