Forget books, more and more American educators are using Apple devices, like iPads, as predominant tools for learning and instruction at almost all academic levels. Ithaca College, for instance, has implemented a pilot program in which 40 iPads will be distributed to select faculty members to help aid classroom collaboration and instruction. One of the program’s goals is for faculty to find concrete apps that could be targeted toward different subject areas and help facilitate more focused learning.
Beth Rugg, assistant director of technology and instructional support services, said she believes the program will help the college gauge how it can better use portable devices to foster more in-depth instruction and learning. “Through this, I think we’ll gain a better institutional knowledge on how these devices can be implemented in the classroom, and as we work alongside the faculty with the technology, we’re hoping we can enable them to explore their discipline in a very specific way,” she said.
David Gondek, assistant professor of biology and one of the faculty applicants to receive an iPad, plans to use a lab management app developed by labguru.com as a research and teaching tool to help manage student projects and labs. He also said he is looking into an app called Molecules, which allows users to study biology at the molecular scale through 3-D molecules based on touch interaction. “One of the things we have an issue with is that, if we wanted to draw a structure that’s not flat in reality, we’d have to draw these ‘chair structures’ to demonstrate three dimensional structures on a two dimensional environment,” he said. “But with the iPad, we can display them on a 3-D scale.”
Rugg added that her greatest hope is that the iPad program will provide a template of ideas that faculty can build upon to look into new areas of education. “Maybe all we can do is learn,” Rugg said. “We hope it will help break down some of the barriers that prevent people from further exploring different educational topics.”