Tablets Lead Charge in Classroom Innovation

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jul. 16, 2012 12:00 am  

Apple Inc.'s iPads, above, and Apple Learning Labs are showing up in Arkansas' K-12 classrooms. (Photo by Apple)

Gina Hogue, director of the history department, said the school outgrew its Mac lab in fall 2010. At that point, Chief Information Officer Mark Hoeting offered to run a pilot study using iPads in the teaching program.

"We were experimenting," Hogue said. "This was a new technology with new applications for us. The students responded very positively."

The main program, Hogue said, has students learning to create multimedia presentations using iPad apps and then using the school-provided tablets in their own student teaching.

"And what is so exciting is we've started using FaceTime to supervise interns," Hogue said, referring to a popular app that provides video for phone calls. "Instead of physically visiting their classroom, we can connect remotely and observe just as if we were in the classroom. They don't know they're being observed; it's a more authentic observation."

Some students use their own iPads, Hogue said, but there are enough to allow everyone in the classes to rent one.

A 30-unit iPad cart in the history department has allowed students faster connections to the school's Wi-Fi network, giving them constant access to their digital sources, Hogue said. The students can then put their research together into visual presentations.

"Then they're able to present in class to their peers," Hogue said. "It has really created a very engaging learning environment."

The iPads beat out personal computers, Hogue said, because of their ease of use and ability to instantly connect with modular systems like QR codes. Plus, they're cheaper than regular laptops. "It's very convenient," Hogue said.

At Hendrix College in Conway, it's a different story.

"We are currently not using tablets in existing faculty classes," said David Hinson, the school's chief information officer.

But that doesn't meant the school isn't using tablets: For example, the school created an app that shows proper evacuation techniques for school emergencies, as well as provides updated lists of emergency and media contacts.

Meanwhile, the school recently hired Tim Lepczyk to help bring mobile technology to the forefront in classrooms. Lepczyk said he's in a planning stage, trying to understand the faculty needs and requirements.

 

 

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