All incoming freshmen students this semester are required to have either an iPad mini, iPad 2 or newer device.
“We’re treating it very similar to a textbook, in that it is not required to be a student, but it is required in certain courses,” said Dr. Susan Lewis, vice provost.
This year all the commitments for the original mobile learning initiative will be completed. Not wanting to lose the momentum that mobile learning has started on campus, the university wanted to continue building on to the next device, the iPad, said Lewis.
“We have had a long history with the iPad,” said Lewis. “And we’ve shifted our focus away from the iPhone to the iPad, now that it is the device of choice.”
At least six departments who teach freshmen level classes spent the spring and summer thinking of ways to incorporate the iPad into their courses.
“We’re not changing the content of the courses, but using this device and the technology as a means of teaching,” Lewis said.
Lewis said one of the hopes of the iPad initiative is to reduce costs of textbooks.
This spring, Dr. Kyle Dickson, associate professor of English and director of the Learning Studio, suggested the university publish an iBook for the Cornerstone class. This freshman level Core class did not formerly have a textbook but relied on class blogs to provide material.
“This is a model that could in the future provide the ability to create custom content on campus at a lower cost than traditional textbooks,” Dickson said.
Dickson said the iPad requirement allows for a common platform throughout campus.
“At least in the short term while the publishing companies are working out the new standards for interactive media resources, it’s been valuable for us to have the iPad platform across campus,” Dickson said.
When registering for classes, courses that require tablets are designated with a ‘T,’ similar to the way an ‘H’ designates honors courses.
If a non-freshman is taking a class that requires a tablet, they can either purchase an iPad, or rent one from Team55 for $100 a semester.
Candace Davis, freshman from Arlington, said none of her teachers acknowledge iPad use for any of her classes.
“Some teachers like it, some don’t. My professors don’t say much of it.”