Notre Dame's iPad Experiment

The students enrolled in the Project Management class at the University of Notre Dame are carrying one less heavy book this semester. They'll still have to read the usual textbook, Project Management in Practice, but only after the electronic version has been downloaded to their new iPads. The university has loaned the iPads to the entire class, and in return the students will provide feedback on the usefulness of the devices, inside and outside the classroom, with regard to their studies. Professor Corey Angst is leading the class in this experiment in new technology, and he's writing about the experience on his blog. He hopes that students will use some of the recommended apps to help them study, and even come up with some of their own. The college produced a video, below, to describe the expectations for this new venture.

I look forward to reading more about the students' reactions and wonder if the enthusiasm for the device as a study tool will remain once the novelty wears off. I imagine iPads will introduce some truly innovative ways for the students to study and learn. I also imagine it's very tempting to close out an e-book and log onto Facebook. Still, Angst said he's only noticed a few students using the iPad for something other than class-related activites during class time, thus far. It seems to me that the iPad has the potential both to enhance the experience of dedicated students and to entice less-enthusiastic students to spend a few moments clicking through the pages of the e-book, if only to try out the new technology. The experienment is an interesting one, and the paperless class might even be the norm someday. I'm interested to hear your reactions. Is this something you'd embrace as a student today? Do you think the iPad would have been a help to your studies had it been available during your college years?



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Beth Cioffoletti
8 years ago
As one who graduated BEFORE calculators became affordable - yes, I used a slide rule - I am JEALOUS!  I was born about 20 years before my time.  I'm sure I would have thrived on a computer immersed college campus, and found my niche a lot sooner.
David Nickol
8 years ago
It seems to me it's students who can't afford to go to Notre Dame and can't afford an iPad that are the ones who need to be prepared for the digital world. I think that students at elite universities are probably, in general, more qualified to teach the faculty about this kind of technology than the faculty is qualified to teach the students. 

Right now the iPad is a luxury item. Of course it's a good thing that people are pioneering educational uses, since in all probability the iPad (or something like it) will be as ubiquitous as the cellphone. But I can't get that excited about a classroom of students at a $50,000-a-year university showing off their iPads.

(I can't believe I'm being such a grouch!)

Even with all the complaints about the high cost of textbooks, the vast majority of students are opting for conventional printed books rather than on-line ebooks at half the price. It will be interesting to see if the iPad or the Kindle will make the ebook more attractive to students. 
we vnornm
8 years ago

As a "learner" I embrace techology, had my first laptop 22 years ago! The range of material you can access, email, discussion groups, etc. is nearly infinite. But when I use it, it's me and the machine.

As a teacher I have used eLearning frequenlty for communicating with students, posting readings, setting up group discussions, giving links for audio/visual. But it's on their time.

In class I still prefer to try to have the "I-Thou" relationship. If students are playing with electronic stuff, it's hard for me to tell if I'm getting through. I am lucky, though, to have full a-v stuff in the rom and can immediately access anything and play it on the big screen, use powerpoint, etc. etc.

Some research shows you can't read as fast on a tablet, and you can't skim over large amounts of material like you can in a book. For this reason, I prefer a book for me.

Is there a moral issue here? Is a large corporation (Apple), creating a need for their product, over other companies? (Do we really need so many cars, use so much oil...this came about, in part, because the industry kept creating a need) If this takes off, are the poor kids in the poor districts going to get them as quickly as those on track for ND and similar places?

So, mixed feelings. But the iPad is neat, almost bought one on impulse...

A very important topic you bring up..bill

Brendan McGrath
8 years ago
I'm a 2005 graduate of Georgetown, and went to Notre Dame for my Master of Theological Studies (2006-2008); I mention the years to show that I'm young, in case that makes me more credible on this.  I'm also a high school Theology teacher.  I really think the whole having-laptops/tablets/etc.-in-the-classroom thing is overrated.  You certainly need them outside the classroom, but inside I think is very problematic.  I think it becomes obtrusive, and takes the user out of the immediacy of the classroom.  I also think that there simply is no substitute for having something there on paper in front of you, being able to physically turn pages, writing notes in the margins, underlining something - yes, tablets can have a pen thing that lets you do that, but it simply is not the same.  Can you really study from a screen in the same way you can study from a page?  Moreover, at the grade school and high school level, you WILL have kids surfing the net, on Facebook, etc.  They will find a way around any blocks you put up.  It is one thing to have a student in class who's not paying attention; it's another thing to have a student in class who can pay attention to all sorts of other things entirely on the internet, chat on Facebook or Instant Messenger or whatever with other kids in and outside the class, etc.

Look at all the intellectual giants throughout history - somehow they managed to learn without a laptop in the classroom.


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