ACU’s alliance with Apple puts ACU in a position to be a major influence on digital publishing. But it’s not the prospect of replacing conventional textbooks that has Dan McGregor, assistant professor of art and design, excited about the iPad.
McGregor experiments with digital art, simulating the pen and brush on a computer. But he reverted to words to paint a picture of students using an iPad to look over a Roman ruin, pulling historical pictures from the Internet for reference as they sketched directly onto the screen of an iPad.
McGregor said he would jump at the opportunity to incorporate assignments on the iPad into his art classes, if it was capable of differentiating line thickness with the amount of pressure applied to the screen. But, from what he has heard, McGregor said the technology is not there yet.
“If Apple calls us for improvements, I’d ask for pressure sensitivity, like a drawing tablet,” McGregor said.
All faculty interested in this “big iPod” have been invited to share questions, suggestions and ideas at an interest meeting about the iPad and second-generation e-books Friday. George Saltsman, executive director of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning, sent an invitation that accented a focus on “ways in which future generations will interact with, publish and consume academic texts.”
ACU has been working with Bell Labs and Cambridge University Press to develop technologies and programs for digital publishing, according to Saltsman’s e-mail. But Brandon Young, assistant professor of art and design, is looking for advancements beyond publishing software.
“I want to see how the iPad aids the creative process,” Young said.
Young sees possibilities for architecture and interior design students to record site analysis notes on the iPad, record available materials and begin to physically sketch their ideas onto the screen display of the location. This would bring a level of immediacy and intuition to the design process.
Another of the iPad’s advantages is its size: bigger than an iPhone but less cumbersome than the digital drawing equipment Gentry Griffin, senior graphics design major from Athens, has to use.
“Right now, I need my computer and my tablet, and it’s just a big jumble of stuff,” Griffin said.
But the primary art and design computer programs, like Adobe and Corel, are not available on the iPad. Apple hasn’t even included a camera or stylus in its design, and these limitations hamper almost any creative application in art, design or architecture for the iPad, Griffin said.
Beyond the question of the iPad’s capabilities lies that of its accessibility.
“This opportunity is not intended to compete with or replace our existing mobile learning efforts but to leverage campuswide expertise in something equally exciting,” Saltsman said in his e-mail.
While ACU has made no announcement addressing the iPad’s place in the Mobile Learning Initiative, the e-mail referenced plans for market research and testing to “validate the overall feasibility of these tools in academic settings.”
Tyler Jarvis, graduate student in divinity from Dallas, said he thought the iPad would be a smarter investment for ACU than the iPhone.
“Instead of teachers printing 50 copies of a handout, they could just say, ‘Pull it up on you iPad,;” Jarvis said. “They’d be less of a distraction.”