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iPads at FHU: Not Just for Fun and Games

Faculty and students at FHU have received and been trained to use new iPads as instructional tools both inside and outside the classroom.

Approximately 400 new students at Freed-Hardeman University received iPads Saturday, Aug. 18, at Welcome Home. The mobile devices were delivered to 100 faculty members over the summer. University administrators and faculty say this is not about fun and games.

Students received initial support and training on PowerUp Day, Aug. 21, during freshman orientation. Training videos are accessible via tutorials on Blackboard. These include accessing Email on the iPad, using iCloud, downloading and installing Microsoft Office, and learning to use Blackboard. Students were also introduced to educational apps for the iPad.

Despite the undeniable appeal of iPads for entertainment purposes, “This is an academic initiative,” stresses Dr. C. J. Vires, vice president of academics at Freed-Hardeman. “Academically, we are positioned well to move in this direction thanks to the myriad of faculty who have participated in several pilot projects and are already effectively using the iPad as an instructional tool within the classroom.” Last year, the university ran a pilot program using iPads and digital textbooks.

Students are expected to use their iPads for presentations, note taking, podcasting, annotating documents, recording videos, and group collaboration. In addition, some classes will use digital textbooks from Kno and Inkling.

Faculty iPad training was conducted in March and April. Sessions focused on setting up and customizing the iPad, installing educational apps, and using the iPad in the classroom. Additional training now being offered shows how to make presentations with the iPad, how to use digital whiteboards and how to project digital textbooks on the screen.

Teachers in classes as diverse as Bible, theatre and mathematics are using the new technology. FHU theatre director Cliff Thompson said, “I especially like the iPad as a media consumption device. We'll look at You Tube videos, images from the web, etc, and combine the material in a collaborative, visual format that aids in understanding.”

Thompson uses the device to introduce students to various design styles. “After describing the elements that make up each style, I ask the students to find examples of set designs in each style,” he said. They then share their findings with annotations using Corkulous. Finally, these "cork board" style projects are shown to the class using the Apple TVs in the classroom. “I like the iPad's ability to capture visual content and arrange that content in ways that are pedagogically useful,” Thompson said.

Jamie Holtin uses the iPad in her Fundamental Concepts of Mathematics class to digitally display handwritten notes she takes in class. Students are provided pdf note outlines in advance. They may use a stylus and their iPad to take a personal set of notes. If a particular type of problem needs to have additional examples worked, the iPad allows for pages to be inserted into the appropriate place in the notes. “This benefits students whether they learn by listening, reading, or writing. Students are able to focus on the problem-solving while still having an accurate set of definitions, terms, and formulas,” she said.

Justin Rogers uses the iPad to control and annotate PowerPoint slides in his Bible classes. He is using AirServer to run his iPad through his MacBook. “This gives me the flexibility of toggling between PowerPoints and a "white board" application (as well as any other application),” he said. “I will also be able to record everything with Screenflow so students can hear the audio, see the PowerPoints and anything I write on the board through one video file on Blackboard.”

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