September 21, 2014

Exploiting the affordances of the iPad at Lynn University

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Students at Lynn University

Tilsley, A. (2013) iPadU Inside Higher Education, January 15

This is a report about Lynn University, a private nonprofit university based in Boca Raton, Florida, moving its core curriculum  to the iPad. The significant point is that the university’s unique core curriculum is delivered through ‘challenged-based learning‘, a method developed by Apple ‘that focuses on using technology to apply course content to real-world problems‘, through the use of iPads.

In a pilot earlier this year students in a section using the iPads learned more than students who received the same curriculum content in more traditional methods – and were happier.

In fall 2013, all incoming students will be required to purchase an iPad mini, which will come loaded with the student’s summer reading and core curriculum texts, created by Lynn faculty. The iPad mini, at $495, will cost half as much as students were paying for print versions of their course readers, and they will get to keep the device.The iPad will be used across all classes.

All faculty have been given iPads and are receiving training on how to use them for teaching within the core curriculum. About 50% of the content will be common to courses, with faculty adding the remaining 50% themselves. Although there is a common framework for applications, faculty have considerable freedom to adapt their teaching as they (and the students) become more experienced in using the iPad.

The university had to spend approximately $1 million in upgrading its network and software (somewhat helped by the media requirements for the televised Presidential debate between Obama and Romney that was hosted at the university in October 2012.)

Other universities that have launched iPad initiatives include:

  • Seton Hill University
  • Dartmouth College School of Medicine
  • Ohio State University (biology)
  • University of Oklahoma (teacher education)
  • University of Western Sydney, Australia

The article contains more details and comments on the plan and is well worth reading in full.

Comment

Although over 125 universities are using materials from I Tunes U, the significant point here is that this is a purpose-built application aimed at exploiting the educational advantages or ‘affordances’ of the technology.

The second significant point is that the university is allowing a fair degree of flexibility for faculty to experiment and adapt as their experience with the technology grows.

The third significant point is that all faculty are receiving extensive training in how to use the technology in advance of the launch of the program.

Although I have some concerns about tying teaching to a single technology supplier and tool, Lynn University is to be applauded for taking such a bold step. I hope it succeeds and that it is carefully evaluated to identify the conditions that will enable the innovation to be migrated successfully to other learning contexts.

 

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