Piloting the iPad

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A growing number of colleges and universities have launched pilot projects to test how the iPad might be used to produce a positive impact on student learning and engagement. In this article, we visit Pepperdine University to find out what lessons could be gleaned from Pepperdine's own iPad pilot project.

We interviewed Dana Hoover, assistant CIO for communications and planning for IT, and Hong Kha, project manager for pedagogy development and special projects. Here's what we learned.

Initial Findings

Pepperdine University's iPad Research Initiative is a three-term study (consisting of classroom observations, surveys, and focus groups), and Pepperdine has just completed the first third of the study, looking at how students are actually using the iPad in class when given the opportunity. Future terms will assess effectiveness on teaching and learning. The preliminary findings from the first term suggests that students have found value in using the iPad because of its:

  • Ease of use (students noted its touch-screen and the fact that unlike a laptop, the iPad has no "boot up" time)
  • Mobility (students noted how easily the iPad could be passed around a group of students, making for smoother collaboration and group study)
  • The vast variety of apps available (students in Pepperdine's math course pilot praised the graphing calculator app and other programs that they perceived as having a positive impact on their learning)

One of the things Pepperdine University hoped to learn this term was how quickly students would adopt the iPad. Moving beyond the hype, would students actually adopt and use the device? Dana Hoover remarks, "Before assessing anything else, we needed to observe how students would use the iPad. At this early stage, it was like throwing a rock into the water and watching the ripple effect."

As it turned out, students had a lot of excitement about the iPad, and expressed that they hoped to use the apps they discovered for future math courses.

What Support Faculty Need

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