Campus News News

The iPad iNitiative

Joe Brown
Editor in Chief



Finally, the recent influx of Springfield College professors carrying around fancy new iPads can be explained. These professors have not suddenly won the lottery or struck it rich, much to their chagrin. Instead, they are volunteering to participate in a faculty development initiative to decide upon the future use of iPads in the classroom at the college.

“We decided to embark upon an initiative with Apple to put iPads in the hands of faculty and see what they did with them,” Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Ann Coughlin said. “We’re constantly looking at ways in which to enhance the use of technology, not just so we can use cool tools, but to help students learn better.”

This iPad initiative originally began with a small group of faculty volunteers towards the end of last spring term. The group was tasked with experimenting with different kinds of devices, such as the NOOK, Samsung tablets, and the iPad to name a few. Their responses were overwhelmingly in favor of what the iPad had to offer for teaching in the classroom.

“The faculty that were involved in the process came back real energized,” Coughlin said. “So, we worked more with our Apple colleagues (Apple higher ed. Professional Development crew), and the college began to explore iPads in the classrooms and what that would involve.”

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the initial group of faculty volunteers, Coughlin – along with initiative co-head and Chief Information Officer Danny Davis – asked for a broader base of volunteers to participate in an academic yearlong initiative. The response they received was nothing short of impressive.

One hundred and twelve faculty, including at least one from every department, volunteered to participate in the initiative. That number includes representatives from School of Human Services sites and Academic Support staff. By receiving an iPad, the volunteers also agreed to participate in workshops and help evaluate the use of iPads in classrooms at Springfield.

“We’ve had an Apple Professional Development education specialist in to provide a series of workshops for faculty teaching them about different applications on the iPad, talking to them and engaging them about how they can be best used in a classroom setting.”

The initiative is designed for faculty to also present to other faculty how they are using the new technology in their courses. It is a constant evaluation and learning process to see if iPads are a worthwhile investment to improve students’ learning experience at Springfield.

“I think the whole initiative is really about getting a sense of, is this the right thing for Springfield College and our majors and our programs and the way our faculty teach?” Coughlin said. “We’re constantly looking at ways in which to enhance the use of technology, not just so we can use cool tools, but to help students learn better.”

Although there may have been rumors, there is no set timeline or immediate plans to give every student a personal iPad, according to Coughlin. The possibility is there, but the initiative is still in an early phase that makes it far too soon to decide. That scenario must be discussed and evaluated as the process continues to move forward. The question comes down to if iPads are the right tool to further every student’s learning experience at the college.

Still, the potential for the use of iPads at Springfield College for educational purposes is an exciting possibility to consider.

“I see lots of applications for it going down the road. I see potential for applications that are pretty exciting if both the faculty and the students have the iPad,” Coughlin said.

For now, the faculty development initiative will continue to progress. So, if you see your professor playing the latest gaming craze on their iPad, like past favorites Candy Crush or Angry Birds, instead of using it to enhance their teaching in the classroom, feel free to call them out.

After all, that iPad has been given to them for a purpose – to make the classroom a more interactive and engaging place to learn at Springfield College.

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