Follow up to last month's article on Seton Hill's well planned iPad rollout.
One of the breakout sessions I was most excited to attend at last month's Campus Technology conference was the one titled, “We All Have iPads … Now What?”. This session was offered by key participants in Seton Hill University's Griffin Technology Advantage project, which I had written about in this article earlier that month.
This iPad rollout struck me as an exemplary case of doing this sort of thing right in the higher education setting. This is a very well thought out project, with robust executive support, and clear directives.
In the conference breakout session, in addition to going over many of the details already covered in the Educause article where I first learned of this undertaking, Mary Ann Gawelek, Mary Sparato, Phil Komarny, and Quinto Martin offered further insights into measures Seton Hill took to help ensure the program's success.
Faculty Training, Support, and Commitment
Audience members were particularly interested in what was done to prepare faculty to use the iPads. Similarly, the question arose as to steps taken to ensure that faculty actually leveraged the iPads in their courses.
Faculty had to commit to training, which was offered over a wide variety of time slots. Training was supplemented with extensive material and media support, and the availability of one-on-one support sessions. Effort was also expended on tying training to pedagogy whenever possible.
Interactive/Assistive Technology Specialist Quinto Martin showed us some wonderful training and support media developed using Indesign from the Adobe Creative Suite, and delivered with Adobe Content Viewer (which is free). These materials created quite a buzz – they were very impressive in their professional appearance and appeared to be easy to use.
Faculty were strongly incentivized to participate in the program. For example, upgraded iPads were provided when they completed a leg of the process (I did not catch what sorts of upgrades, I'm not sure if this meant higher capacity, 3G, iPad to iPad2, or something else). Instructors were given a wide variety of application options to pick from – and allowed to use what they like. A program of faculty presentations was also put together, allowing teachers to share successes, innovative ideas, and so on.
I asked specifically about adjunct professors – did they all get iPads? With their limited time on campus, were they harder to get a commitment from? The team explained that adjuncts were given iPads as long as they committed to the required hours of professional development. As with all other faculty, there was a defined requirement for gradually increasing the integration of the iPads in their courses.
On the horizon
As they wrapped up their presentation, the team shared some of their thinking about how technology is changing the educational process, and how these changes may impact education in the years to come.
- Mobile tech is an extension of self:
Seton Hill has clearly embraced mobile computing and is committed to staying ahead of the curve in their adaptation of mobile technologies. Gawalek stated, “We're not going to get away from the mobility, so we should embrace it”.
- Facilitate how to find, evaluate, integrate and apply information:
This is often a topic of discussion in education today – the nature of learning is changing. It is less about memorizing information and more about knowing how to wade through the infinite streams of information now accessible to students, and being able to apply critical thinking skills to the evaluation and use of that information.
- Dismiss boundaries of learning – course, space, time:
Every day, mobile and distance technologies make learning anytime, anywhere more of a reality.
Thanks to Seton Hill University for sharing this inspiring project and their insights and lessons learned! We look forward to learning more over time, as they assess the program's impact and share their findings.
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
iPads In Education – How’s It Going So Far?
Someday students will carry a tablet computer instead of books (it’s just a matter of time)
10 Excellent iPad Applications for Teachers