iPads enhance learning experience

ipadMSUM joined the wave of schools fully embracing the information age by providing each student in both the music industry major and school psychology graduate program with an iPad or iPad Mini for course work and personal use.

For the last three years, the school psychology graduate program had four iPads the students could rent out, but this is the first semester the programs provided all students with a device. The iPads take the place of textbooks and let the professor and students easily communicate questions via video, share notes though the Air Drop and distribute all other materials without ever having to print anything.

In the school psychology graduate program, students are using the iPads for classroom and course work means, as well as preparation for the real-world application of technology in the field.

“Currently we are using them in the classroom, kind of getting familiar with the technology,” said Hannah Korcuska, a second year school psychology graduate student. “There are actually a couple apps specifically for school psychology, such as how to do observations in the classroom, organizing when you’re going to assess a kid, things like that.”

The students in both the first and second years are using iPads but for somewhat different purposes. The second year students are preparing for real world functions of the technology when working with students. The apps that are available are specific for the school psychology programs are School Psychology Tools and Behavior Lens.

“We are training (students) to be professionals in the schools, and there are certain apps and uses of the iPads that we want them to be able to do,” said Lisa Stewart, school psychology professor.

School Psychology Tools provide the students with various tools to assist in the classroom when administering tests and various exercises, and Behavior Lens is an observation tool that allows users to time activities and take notes on how students conduct themselves.

“Since I get to practice right now what I will be doing in the schools, being able to transfer that over into my professional life, is going to be really cool,” Korcuska said. “Knowing that I am already familiar with this technology, and that I can use it when I’m out on practicum. Hopefully, when I’m out on internship there is an iPad I can use.”

First year students are mainly using the iPads for coursework and in-class learning, but they are being exposed to how the devices help in the professional world.

In the music industry program, the teaching and learning experiences have been overhauled since iPads made their way into the classroom. Now, if professor Ryan Jackson wants to distribute music clips or a highlighted section of notes to his students, he instantly shares them with everyone via iTunes University.

“Once I push (materials), everyone enrolled in the class gets it immediately,” Jackson said. “It’s faster than an email and you can’t get it lost in your listserv.”

Jackson has switched over to using eBooks for his classes and now can share everything electronically with classes. Similar to the school psychology program, some students were skeptical about using the iPads in the classroom.

“I just had my biggest skeptic in here,” Jackson said. “He wasn’t really quite sure if he wanted the iPad, wasn’t sure if he wanted the responsibility and didn’t really know how it was going to help. I just had him in here 10 minutes ago and I said, ‘So, you’re liking the iPad aren’t ya?’ He just shook his head and started laughing and was like ‘Ya, it’s, like, really awesome. It’s super beneficial.’”

Music students agree that the technology is positively impacting their classes and overall educational experience.

“Everything has become a lot more organized in the classes which have incorporated iPads into their classroom settings,” said Eric Jensen, music industry senior.

Students are now empowered to reach out and communicate effectively with professors, despite the sometimes-limited office hours. Hard-to-interpret email questions have been eliminated all together.

“I got a 38-second video from one of my upperclassmen that explained in full what problem he was having,” Jackson said. “I was able to respond right on the spot.”

iPads and new technology are only going to advance as times goes on, and both the school psychology program and music industry program are on the forefront of the education evolution. Jackson can record special notes over a presentation he sent out, drawing attention to specifics he wants students to pay attention to. The program is also in the process of linking up the iPad Minis with D2L.

“I just gave a midterm on the devices,” Jackson said. “Sixty percent of the students did all of the typing for essays on the iPad itself.”

Though the technology is only being used in the two programs as of now, the eventual goal is the spread its use department and, maybe even someday, campuswide.

“I don’t think we have even touched the surface of what the potential is,” Stewart said. “If the iPad initiative went away we would still do this, because it’s that important for our  students.”

BY MEREDITH WATHNE
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