Samantha (Sam) Birk is the Associate Director for Instructional Technologies at Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne. She was the first associate faculty member to earn honors faculty status at IPFW and was honored as Associate Faculty of the year in 2000. Sam is leading an iPad pilot program called Project #mobileEdu where faculty are given the opportunity to enhance the learning experience with mobile apps.
If your institution is anything like Indiana University-Purdue Fort Wayne, then you know mobile devices are everywhere. Walking around campus, I see students glued to their phones with those white ear buds? and I think, "These students are on their phones 24/7, how can IPFW use mobile to enhance the student experience?"
The question was, How can mobile devices support and transform teaching and learning?
I truly believe that the learning experience can be reshaped with mobility. So, late last spring a team and I created a Cohort of about 60 or so faculty members asking them to think about this challenge.
The first cohort started in August, 2011 and we were blown away by the creativity exhibited by our faculty. Professors including Dr. Joyce Lazier experimented with various iPad apps including iThoughtsHD which allowed her student to collaborate on mind maps to come up with a collective, self-discovered response to problems and questions. Other faculty started using GoodReader, which allows them easily mark-up, comment, return and archive student papers when saved as a PDF, which they report is an easier process that traditional pen and paper. They are coming up with new ways to change what goes on in and outside the classroom almost every day.
Students saw this as a chance to revolutionize their classroom experience as well. Speaking about using her iPad when it was integrated into the course experience, one student mentioned the combination of audio, visual, and tactile learning styles made for the most engaged learning experience.
The excitement that our iPad initiative has lead to 3 departments purchasing iPads for their faculty members and the start of our second Cohort with 78 new faculty members. We have almost 1/3 of our faculty taking a critical look at how this technology can reshape the classroom, transform learning, and support research.
With the Spring 2012 Cohort kicking off a few weeks ago, we are already seeing creative ways these newest members are thinking about and using this technology. Look for a mid-term review, when I will sharing the success and future of iPad initiative as well as how we are using Blackboard Mobile Learn in our classroom.