The Honors College is piloting a program with this year’s honors freshmen to determine the effectiveness of using a tablet device in the classroom.
Like last year, new ACU students and rising juniors had the option of choosing from three mobile learning devices: an iPod Touch, an iPhone or an iPad, for which a discount voucher would be provided. Freshmen Honors students, however, were exclusively required to choose the iPad, and could receive the 16GB, Wi-Fi only, model for free.
Funds to pay for iPads came from a variety of sources, including the Honors College, the provost office and the mobile learning budget. There are approximately 135 freshmen in the Honors College.
The Honors College’s goal with this program Â is to create new ways that Honors can initiate mobile learning with the iPad in the classroom.
“We worked with our honors faculty who are teaching honors sections of Cornerstone and Bible in a workshop this summer about how they could utilize those devices to enhance and enrich their teaching,” said Dr. Stephen Johnson, dean of the Honors College. “It’s part of our own work as educators to improve what we’re doing for our students and to improve our teaching. This entering class provided us the opportunity to do that.”
Professors using the iPad in their honors sections created interactive syllabi for their respective classes, which included an overview of the course as well as additional class content, videos, photos and audio recordings of assignments that had been completed by students in previous years, delivered in the form of e-books.Â The Gospel According to Twilight by Elaine A. Heath, required reading for Honors Cornerstone sections, was handed out electronically in the form of an Amazon gift code, to be redeemed and used on the iPad.
“We think that the tablet device as a learning tool provides all of the kinds of benefits that an iPhone or iPod Touch does, plus it adds more,” said Dr. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson mentioned that the Honors College iPad program is not officially connected to the possible university-wide iPad mandate, which would require every student to have an iPad, but that it could serve as a learning experience for the university.
Grayson Hurst, a sophomore biochemistry major from Abilene, is a member of the Honors College who chose the iPad last year as his mobile learning device. While Hurst had to partially pay for his own iPad, he supports the use of the tablet in the classroom and the program being tested by the Honors College. Hurst believes that making the iPad more accessible to the freshmen was a positive step to take.
“I had to pay for it, but I still got it at about half price, so it wasn’t too expensive for what it was,” said Hurst. “It was worth the money for me because I use my iPad all the time.”
The Honors College plans to survey the value of using the iPad in the classroom, and determine if future freshman will be required to have an iPad.
“We want to continue to enrich and enhance student learning,” said Dr. Johnson. “We’re committed to that.”