As the academic year kicks into high gear, many students have heard of the buzz surrounding the “iPad class.” Inside of Corey Angst’s project management class, the use of Apple’s popular gadget allows students to take advantage of the iPad’s capabilities in a unique way.
The seven-week course is the first of several pilot classes that will use 50 University-owned iPads as means to determine the role e-publishing technology should play in the classroom, Angst, assistant professor of management, said.
These classes are the result of Notre Dame’s e-publishing working group, which formed in March as a partnership between the Office of Information Technologies’ Academic Technologies, Hesburgh Libraries, the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, the Office of Institutional Equity, the Office of Sustainability, the Mendoza College of Business (MCOB), the Law School and the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC).
Academic technologies consultant Jon Crutchfield said the group’s main goal is to determine what an “e-publishing ecosystem” would look like at Notre Dame.
“All these groups had seen the transition from printed text to digital texts for years,” Crutchfield said. “We knew the iPad was coming out last April which would help increase acceptance of e-readers and e-books, and the iPad is multifunctional enough to justify its cost.”
The $499 iPads were funded by OIT, Hesburgh Libraries, MCOB, the Law School and the CSLC, allowing students to use them at no personal cost.
Angst and Crutchfield said the iPad’s color display, multimedia capabilities and Internet accessibility give it an advantage over other black-and-white e-readers that have been unsuccessfully piloted at other universities.
In contrast with those failed pilots, Angst has received virtually no complaints about the iPads and their role in the class.
“Students work on real-world projects in this team-based course,” Angst said. “Besides using the iPad as an e-reader, they are probably using shared calendars to coordinate their schedules and about half the students type notes on their iPads during class.”
Angst’s students also responded positively to the transition to a paperless, iPad-based course.
“I’m actually surprised how much I like reading our textbook from the iPad,” senior Jordan Rockwell said. “Another awesome feature is an app called ‘Dropbox’ that syncs your files added from any computer to the iPad so you can instantly access your own files or Professor Angst’s.”
Angst is heading a research project that will assess the effectiveness of e-readers as classroom resources and incorporate data from his class and future pilot courses.
“This is still a project management course,” Angst said. “But it’s the first part of a project that we’ll continue to study as iPads are distributed to different students.”
Crutchfield said that after Angst’s class concludes, another pilot class from either First Year of Studies, the Law School or the CSLC will begin using iPads in their instruction.
“The other courses will try to replicate Professor Angst’s research methodology in order to provide him with a rich data set from a diverse group of students of different majors and age groups,” Crutchfield said.
The iPads may be tested in the future in different settings at Notre Dame, such as making iPads available in the library for class-related videos, Crutchfield said.
“We are interested in finding out how e-publishing technology will impact how people create, distribute, read and share content in terms of courses, library loans and the bookstore,” Crutchfield said.
Crutchfield said the sustainability of e-reader technology would be assessed in terms of savings from e-books, energy efficiency and the recyclability of iPads.
“You can make educated guesses about how the technology will work out, but until you get it in the hands of real people, in real courses you don’t know the full capabilities and limitations of it,” Crutchfield said.